I’m sitting here with my mind in a whirl and I just can’t sleep and have to write this down, whatever it is.
Today I finished a book, “Half of a Yellow Sun” by Chimamanda Adichie. It was about the Nigerian/Biafran Civil War of the late 60’s, which I knew nothing about. It was a wonderful, difficult story to read, and I’m having trouble with it being finished because I want to continue to be a part of the character’s lives. In it she talks about something called “kwashiorkor” afflicting the children in the refugee camps. I wasn’t sure what it was, I thought it was like dysentery, so I looked it up. It is this:
Those famine pictures you see, of children suffering from severe protein deficiency due to malnutrition and starvation. The images that popped up in the Google search have haunted me all day long.
Then I took 2 of my kids for a hike and picnic in a state park. It was gorgeous and warm and sunny and breezy. We picked up lichen and sparkly rocks and a stick that looked like bamboo. We just meandered up and down the rocky trail. We saw a mother deer and her 3 fawns dash across the trail in front of us and then watch us warily, tails twitching, from the trees until they dashed off again. It was a beautiful, perfect summer day.
I took my oldest to her 6th grade orientation. It was a flood of information and new things to figure out, to get used to. It was overwhelming and an overload of things to remember. It was exciting to see her new school, meet her teachers, imagine all the new and exciting things coming her way this year. She was reassured by finding many people she knows in her homeroom class and on her team. I left feeling great anticipation for the year and years ahead, knowing this is a huge step in her growing up, her becoming the young woman she is going to be some day. My head was spinning with all the things I need to remember.
I read Jamie The Very Worst Missionary’s blog today, where she talks about how activism requires action, and how most of us are “passivists”, in that we passively talk about, share, pass along information about horrible and desperate situations, without actually doing anything about any of them. Kind of exactly like this blog here.
I started and finished another book, “If I Stay”, by Gayle Forman (I know, I know. But you know I am a notorious Devourer of Books. And this one was very short.). It was about an 18 year old girl who is in a terrible car accident that kills her parents and little brother. She has survived but is in grave condition, and the story is told from her point of view as she contemplates whether to stay or go…to live or die. It is heart-wrenching, even though it is a fictional story, because you can’t help but wonder if you were in that situation, if that choice were even possible, what would you do. If everyone you loved was lost. I don’t think I could stay. It made me feel very sad and melancholy.
So here I am just thinking about how odd this life is. The juxtaposition of pain and beauty. That this is a world where
Thousands, maybe millions, of children, suffer from kwashiorkor, look like that photo, live in that reality, and worse, every day.
That somewhere a little girl is being raped by a man who paid to have sex with her.
That little boys are being conscripted to fight in a war they don’t understand.
That someone is losing someone in an unthinkable tragedy.
That you can go from being intimate friends to total strangers in less than a year because of a stupid misunderstanding.
That you can go outside and see something incredibly beautiful, probably right outside your front door.
That you can see the potential and the future in the eyes of your child.
That you can dream about the possibilities of your own future, as you think about the things you are passionate about.
And at the same time as all of these things, you
plot and strategize how to get through the list of things you have to do tomorrow.
try and remember to call or write to friends and people important to you.
wonder how the $300 to fix the dryer is going to affect the bank balance.
think about the random things you want to do to the house.
wonder why you spent all your birthday money on locker organizers and gym shirts and PTA memberships.
sit and write another silly blog.
This life. It’s kind of insane. It’s exhausting to think about.
So why aren’t I tired yet?