Sunday, January 17, 2010

Star gazing.

Haiti's apocalypse. I hear the updates on NPR and I see flashes of pictures on TV, but mostly it's tuned out of my daily life. We still went to the pool today with the kids. We still made fajitas for dinner like I planned last Wednesday.

Still, I do think about what the people of Haiti are experiencing. I try to picture and feel what it is like to have your world and the people in it crumble to dust, but I can't really even conjure up that image. Not to an extent that changes what I am doing today (beyond clicking a PayPal button), and presumably, not what I'll be doing a year from now.

I have never personally experienced a large scale tragedy.  I do not know the pull of survival, the adrenaline the pushes a person to work day and night, seemingly without end, to actually save another's life. The kind of necessity that would require use of all the moral judgment that my parents instilled in me, brick by brick, one highly dramatic, but not earth shattering, life experience at a time. The kind of necessity that would force me to gather all my moxie, all that "potential" teachers talked about, and really get my hands dirty to dig one person, but maybe not another, out of a concrete grave.

Really, at this point in my life, contemplating my role in Haiti's trajedy is like contemplating the universe. There are zillions of  lights out there, both sparkling and dusty, and I don't know where it begins, or where it ends.

While I have lived in Louisiana, I was long gone before Katrina. While attending college in the Midwest, I never helped place sand bags to hold back a bulging river in South Dakota, even though I could have joined a student group who hopped on a bus to do it. I did not feel the heavy weight of the ashes of buildings and lost souls float over me as I made the long road home on 9-11, nor have I have ever been to Ground Zero.

Even without those experiences, a catastrophe like Haiti's earthquake likely causes many of us to consider, at least for a little while, about what is lost, what was missing in the first place, and what we know to be ours. Unfortunately, however, every crisis I've witnessed from the boob tube has not motivated me much beyond that. Sometimes I give money. And generally I think I've been a little nicer to strangers in the immediate term thereafter. Like waving more people into my merge lane.

This time I did give some money, and maybe you did too. It was a drop in the bucket relative to my household income and arguably, my last Hanna Andersson clothing purchase. I feel okay about that and I think it is because, short of my humanity, I am not personally connected to Haiti.

But there is a big difference this time, one that motivated me to give at all:  A grounded friendship here at home with a woman and her daughter who are forever tied to a tiny place that rests over tenuous fault lines and blazes with poverty. I am lucky enough to know and care for Any Mommy, the adoptive mother of her Haitian born child, Ess. Giving to the relief efforts in Haiti somehow makes me feel like I am doing something for Stacey and Ess.  Somehow, with these real live, all mine, lovely people in mind, I can see the constellations among the stars and draw lines from dot to dot to form a picture that makes sense. I see it now - the Seven Sisters that any of us can be - Stacey, Ess, Haitians, you...and me (and two more).  (:



11 comments:

Amy said...

Wow. Awesome post, Kristina. Thanks for sharing.

~Laura said...

That was amazing. I love the honesty and your last paragraph. You should consider yourself blessed to have lived a life free of such baggage. For this, give thanks.

phulmaya said...

I too have been thinking and wondering - what exactly does it take to have it "really" hit you? Do you have to be there? Have a personal connection? Why does the knowledge itself (along with pictures and video) not do it?

mom2three said...

Thank you for posting this. I can't even watch the news anymore because it just makes me unbelievably sad. My hardest issue is the children. I adopted my middle son from Guatemala a few years ago but if Haiti had been open for adopting through the agency we went through I would have adopted from there. Like you I donated some money. I think many people are helping in anyway they can, donating some money is what I could do to help.

anymommy said...

I love you and your huge heart. Thank you for the imagery of stars and constellations, I have been struggling with my tenuous connection to the horror, with my detached grief. You've put some of it into words for me.

Autumn said...

Hey there--I, too, adore anymommy but I adore her from afar and have never met her. Thanks for commenting on my food posting--we are not at the vegetarian stage yet (although my dad has been for 30 or more years), although I've tried to cut down to 2 times a week for the carnivores. Also, my 4 year old has a dinosaur obsession as well with all the hard plastic dinosaurs in his bed, in the bathroom, in the backyard, etc. On MLK Day, he was playing in the backyard and came in saying he found a troodon bone. Sort of cracked me up. Hang in there with what sounds like a new baby thing. My kids are 15 and 19 months apart, so I have been where you are. It gets tons and tons better with more and more sleep! PS--Upon re-reading this, it is a random assortment of comments. Enjoy.

Autumn said...

PS--Love me some hanna anderson.

Ann's Rants said...

I agree with this. Wanting to feel connected, but not being able to relate.

Then putting yourself there for a moment and feeling it so intensely you immediately retract from it.

Nice post.

Ruth Branson said...

Your post really spoke to my heart, Kristina. I've been stewing on the Haiti situation since I first heard about it and am so troubled by it. I've written two posts about it that I haven't yet published on my blog - primarily because I'm still thinking it through and wondering the age old question of 'why.'

Anyway, thank you for this post. You write so beautifully!

Ruth

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