Monday, September 9, 2013

July 25/26, Before the break, Part 1.

Before our two nights away, this is part one of my last evening of journaling in Pommern - after the first full week. I may be repeating myself a bit here, but it's as-written, knowing the next day I'd work a half day on the septic and then go... on a safari! 

I find that having secure shelter, safe food, clean water and English speaking friends means I can remain in a heightened state of observation more often than not. There's nothing rote here; there's no single unconscious action, from food to sleep.

Also: the showers that Joe and Marie and their family brought might be the greatest possession ever and I vaguely feel like I OUGHT to be ashamed of the daily 3 minutes of waist-height better-than-lukewarm water. But it's one thing I'm not embarrassed about. it's too powerfully restorative to feel guilty.

So during my peek into Lutheran choir practice today, and then hearing "Hey Ho" on Mamatony's battery-powered tinny kitchen radio - both bring me to tears. It's that heightened state, and I write this after working, after showering, feeling reborn. The tears come for scope of Africa's problems that I can't help - like how these women, their girls, and their girls' girls will live almost this exact life. I know I won't be able to fix anything of consequence for them, the ones right in front of me, even. Tears for the health, their hopes, for how they get smitten and fall in love but it probably does not make life much better. Again and again the beauty continues to pain me - more literally at times when I see this gorgeous place, with vibrant life humming in the very air, as also the source of their pain - geographically isolated from the power, but rich in natural resources ripe for the thieving.

And it becomes, over these days, apparent how we'll each divvy up the personal resources when they get scarce. Fellow volunteer Joe is wildly generous - having brought not just the sun showers for us all to use, but thousand (truly) of dollars in medical supplies. But when they are sorted and divided to take half to the clinic near us, and half to the Roman Catholic clinic across the village, he comes back harshly certain it was not only done wrong - ah, our attachment to literally giving the gift, to seeing the joy or appreciation or the reverence for the plenty we bring, the plenty we think we innately are - but that even more importantly, his personal medications were accidentally given away.

Now, look, I don't want to lose my Ciproflaxin either! But the pure possessiveness is both funny and part of the constant state of high alert I'm in, this constant open wound I am.

I see suddenly, my God, exactly what you would do with two servings of porridge and three kids.

And perhaps, at some point, what you would do with those two servings when one child becomes ill. And then gravely ill.

How Joe - and all of us - love our little things, things, things - and how our fresh-showered good humor and ability to poke fun at ourselves is there - until a very genuine threat arises. Someone gave away my pills, vitamins, medications. Then the entitlement to OUR items flares like Bilbo Baggins clutching after his ring, baring his fangs at a dear nephew.

And with that - Mamatony says dinner is served. I peel myself off the back deck and away from my rumination, away from my imagining of scarce, scarce food and what it would do - to me.

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