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30 Sep

From A Distance

lesotho 2010 288I’ve been home, now, for a few of days, and I think – I think – that I’ve recovered from travel fatigue – 28 hours it took me to get home from Lesotho – and jet-lag and the brain fog that comes from traveling halfway around the world and back in less than a week. But I haven’t quite recovered from what I can only describe as soul-lag: the existential exhaustion that settles upon you when you’ve experienced something that changes you so profoundly that your psyche has trouble catching up to your transformed heart and soul.

I have soul lag. It’s getting in the way of writing anything meaningful or informative about everything that I saw, everything that I learned, everything that changed me last week. It’s clouding my mind and tangling my thoughts and every time that I sit down to write I am faced with a screen that demands, now, something better than before, something worthy of the stories that I heard and the stories that I was part of, and as I stare at that screen something inside me sags and crumples. I tell myself that it will all come, in time, as my heart and soul and psyche reconcile themselves to each other and to the clock of my here and now, and as I find the words to do those stories justice, but my self is not entirely convinced. My self is also not a very good listener, but that’s not really the problem here.

I wrote last week about being confronted by my own privilege, and in particular by the privileged character of my discourse, of our discourse, and I remain confronted, and so I am unable to simply slip back in to the easy flow of the narrative that puts me first, that sets my anxieties and issues and concerns as the driving action, that, among other things, establishes my experience of motherhood – my very privileged experience of motherhood – as the conditio sine qua non for understanding the condition of motherhood and womanhood and fulfillment and happiness and life. I lived for a very short while in a different experience, I was exposed to a different experience, and now my own experience seems so very, very partial, and my view of it so partial, not to say, in some ways and at some times, distorted. And I’m not sure, yet, how to accommodate the broader view, how to address the distortion, how to make sense of my (privileged) stories and my impulse to (privileged) storytelling and my expectation that those stories will get heard within the context of a world in which those stories are, really, in so many ways, so insignificant.

Blogging, now, feels like self-indulgence – which, of course, it is: what greater expression and active assertion of privilege than to narrate one’s own privileged experience and to share it and debate it and dissect it in the public sphere? – and so I’ve fought the urge, the very real and in some moments very pressing urge, to just bag it all in, chuck the blog, forget social media, cut the electronic cord and be done with it. I’ve fought the urge because I still believe that there’s still something very important about what we do here, about sharing our lives and our experiences and our stories, privileged or otherwise, and because this medium allows me – allowed me, this past week – to share stories that might not, that would not, otherwise get told.

But the urge was there, is there, and it’s taking some effort to process it, because although I don’t want to give in to it, I don’t want to lose sight of it, either. I don’t want to take for granted my voice and this medium, and I don’t want to forget that my ability to exercise and make use of both is a privilege and so should be put to the best possible use. Which doesn’t necessarily mean never bitching about lack of sleep or bad hair days or debating the ridiculousness of the term ‘helicopter parenting,’ but it does mean always keeping those things in the proper perspective, and making sure that there’s more, much more, to what I’m doing here than just that.

We’ll see how that goes.

(Yes, I’m still hoping that you’ll read and sign and support. Donor countries are still pledging, so the show of support still matters.)

(There’s a Flickr group and Facebook page with more photos from and information about the trip, and links to updates about the cause. You should check these out, because I said so.)

(If you’re local, and you’re interested in more frivolous things – I’m still interested in frivolous things, even though I feel guilty about it – check out the contest that we have going at the Bad Moms Club. It’s for a fun thing, and I promise that I won’t say a word about Africa or HIV or saving the world if you win it. Unless you ask, then all bets are off.)