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). (: