Destruction

454215595254It’s been a long month.  Nepal was hit by a massive earthquake…twice.  Many of the sacred building sites and monuments, that I was so privileged to visit, have been destroyed. Nearly 9000 lives were lost.  Survivors are crowded into tent cities.  It’s monsoon season. Corruption is rampant within the government.  Entire villages are gone.  Young children and women are in danger of sexual assault, and being kidnapped by sex traffickers.  There is a very real danger of an epidemic of communicable diseases due to overcrowding, malnourishment, exposure to the elements, and lack of sanitation and vaccines.  There’s so much that is wrong.  It’s hard to not be overwhelmed by such stacked circumstances.  And being back in the States, my efforts to help seem insignificant…and laughable even.

Then there’s my personal life: Mother’s Day, my birthday, and a breakdown of another sort, my relationship with D.  I’ve been learning the incredibly difficult lesson of not being able to make anyone be ready, let alone do anything.  D is not ready to heal, and he is not committed to his recovery.  And there’s nothing that I can do about it.  I’ve started my journey inward and I’m not willing to go back to blindness.  We are at an impasse.  And this makes me so angry and so fearful.  I’m angry that I am here yet again, and that I’ve allowed myself to become so blind and so deaf to his patterns of destruction.  I’m weary of all the attacks and attempts at manipulation.  I’m tired of being told my feelings are not acceptable.

I do think that D would not do the things he does and not say the things he says, if he could help it.  But he can’t, and without the willingness to do the work, and the vulnerability and humility to he honest with himself, I don’t hold much hope that he ever will.

And did I tell you, we’re moving to Georgia in a week!  And just a few days ago, Selah and I got back from a two week trip back home to San Diego.  All this upheaval is hard for me.  I like things to be constant so that I can predict and control everything, of course.  I’m having a really hard time trusting God and the process, much of the time.  There are moments of serenity when I know that everything will be ok.  Yes, things are pretty unpleasant at the moment and I cry constantly.  But this will not be forever and it is so important for me to feel all the feelings of anger, frustration, sorrow, and grief so that I don’t stay stuck in it.

You know, that’s the best advice I have ever gotten, that I can be as angry as I want to be for as long as I need to be.  Obviously, don’t act on the anger, but go right ahead and feel it. Before that it was always, ok you’re angry, stop it.  So, I was angry.  And with so much back log of anger, I was angry for a solid two weeks.  It was miserable.  I thought it would never end.  But it did, and it didn’t kill me.  It didn’t kill anyone else either.  And with the passing of my anger came forgiveness, understanding, and awareness.  This was the first time ever, that I had been able to just sit with the super uncomfortable feeling of anger.  It made me realize that I can do this.  Struggling, kicking and screaming, raging, crying, praying, begging, going around and around, and ultimately coming through to the other end of it with acceptance for what is.

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Nepal Earthquake 2015

The earth moved in Nepal on the 25th of April, 2015.  It rolled, and it pitched, and it shook.  And it took with it almost 7000 lives.  It’s only a few days later and already the dead number at almost 7000.  7000.  That number is likely to double, as more and more bodies are uncovered, especially in the rural areas of Nepal, where aid has not yet been provided.

The government does not have the capacity to handle a tragedy of this magnitude, nor does it have the needed focus.  Let us be honest.  Governments have priorities, and so often those priorities do not lie with the most vulnerable and disadvantaged of society, and in Nepal these include: the poor, rural, Dalit, and the women and children.  Many governments have pledged funds as well as rescue teams to help how they can.  The Nepali government recently turned down an offer of aid from Taiwan.  It is not for the Nepali government to refuse any help based on politics, on behalf of their people.  It is easy to be proud and refuse help when you yourself are not lying beneath the rubble, or if your own family is safe.  Thousands have died, and many more will die in the coming weeks without the aid that is so desperately needed.

The situation is dire, and in need of immediate attention and action.  People are sleeping unprotected, out in the open for fear of another earthquake.  They are without proper sanitation.  There is no electricity, and communication systems are down or overloaded.  Aftershocks, lack of clean water and food, dwindling supplies, heavy thunderstorms, lack of safe shelter, damaged or no roads into and out of rural areas, decaying bodies-the survivors will begin to suffer the very real consequences of the aftermath of this massive earthquake: sickness and more death, exposure to the elements, starvation, assault and/or rape.

In previous natural disasters that required foreign aid, a study released by the World Health Organization found that it takes days, if not weeks for foreign aid to make a difference. “The norm is more like five to 10 days for damage and security assessments to be made, for funds to be released, for stuff to start piling up at a forward air base somewhere, for chains of command and distribution to be established, and for people and supplies to start making their way outward to where they’re needed.  In the meantime, the situation is left to “local resilience and response mechanisms.” In other words: whatever local infrastructure and personnel happen to have survived the disaster.”  Local resilience and response mechanisms like Action Works Nepal.

Action Works Nepal has long championed the rights of the people of Nepal that the government ignores, the ones who are most in need. These Nepali people, the ones who have borne the brunt of this horrific earthquake, those who are working tirelessly to save as many as they can, the ones sharing what little they have with those who have nothing, these people are the ones that AWON seeks to help.  Members of AWON know what is needed, they know how to help.  They’ve walked from rural village to rural village, establishing trusting relationships, providing funds and humanitarian aid long before this horrific disaster.

Many of you have reached out and asked how you can help.  Please help AWON do what it does best, to help the survivors who are on the bottom of a very long list of those in need at this time.  AWON is focusing on providing clean water, food, and warm shelter for orphans, women and men, and for those who are injured.  Funds are desperately needed to mobilize help, to purchase and gather needed supplies, and for transportation.  People are still being pulled from the rubble alive.  Time is of the essence.  Yes, almost 7000 people died, and that number is likely to climb higher as more bodies are recovered, but it is the living that need our help now. Please, please give what you can.  Share this on every media platform that you belong to, and please continue to pray for Nepal and for her people.

To Donate:  https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=JV22P6LF2RLAS

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Chhaupadi

It’s been over a year since we got back from Nepal…a long time. I never imagined that writing about Nepal would take me this long.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written this post, how many versions I have stored in my computer.

I never expected to feel so lost, so bereft of a part of my soul upon returning.  I didn’t know that I would grieve.  And I certainly never had it in my mind that I would travel down into the depths of my psyche, to know more fully the person that I am, to begin the process of healing.  It has been a long time, and yet, there are things that stand out to me, still.  And what stand out to me, are the stories.  At my core, I’m a storyteller, and these are some of the stories of Jumla.

Kashab

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Kashab is the volunteer coordinator for Action Works Nepal (AWON).   He’s only 24 years old, and he’s the primary source of financial support for his mother and younger siblings. His father died when Kashab was 21, leaving him as the head of the family.  Kashab and his family are of a higher caste, but when his father died, no one wanted to hire him.

When I first met him, it seemed odd that a young man from such a remote and rural area would work for an organization that championed women’s rights.  He grew up enjoying the privileges that come with being male and of a higher caste.  Why was he walking the trails of the Himalayas talking to women about their menstrual cycles?  When I asked him how he got involved with AWON, and how he came to work for the advancement of women,  Kashab told me of his father’s death and of the trouble he had finding work. Radha, of Action Works Nepal, was the only one who would give him work.  So, at first, it was only a job he was hired to do.  Then, he said, he began to listen to the message that Radha was trying to send.

Kashab and I generally spoke at night with Radha as an interpreter.  We would all be huddled under thick blankets, with only our faces poking out, lest we freeze a finger, or maybe a toe or two.  Nepal has no heating system for homes.  People in the larger cities, who can afford it, use electric heaters and even they can be insufficient against the cold nights.  Many of the homes are made out of concrete, or cinder blocks, and there are many ways in which the outside becomes the inside.  The first night together, Radha wanted to share a bed with me.  There was only one small bed which consisted of a carpet placed on top of some plywood.  The rest of us would have to sleep on the floor.  I thought that she was trying to be nice and share the bed with me because maybe she thought I was not used to “roughing” it.  I tried to refuse and take a pallet on the floor, not only to give Radha more room on the bed, but also to help Kalpana feel more comfortable.  Kalpana was another AWON member of only 17 years, and I thought she would feel uncomfortable sleeping next to just Kashab.  Radha insisted, and so we shared the bed.  Kashab got kicked out to another room by himself.  A few minutes into the night, I knew why Radha had insisted so hard.  Maybe it was because we were staying by the river, I don’t fully know, but to say that it was freezing would be grossly insufficient.  The narrowness of the bed was a blessing as it made cuddling mandatory.  I felt bad that I had pressed so hard for Kalpana to sleep alone, thinking that she would be more comfortable.  Truth be told, I don’t think she nor Kashab would have cared who they were sleeping next to, as long as they were a warm body.  We all slept together in the same room after that first night.

We talked of many things, but the one thing I was most curious about was Chhaupadi. Chhaupadi is the practice of shunning girls and women during menstruation and childbirth due to the erroneous belief that their blood is unclean.  Many of the women are treated like animals, oftentimes worse.  They’re not allowed to share food, or use water from the same source.  They’re shut up and segregated from the community.  At night, they’re forced to sleep in the cowshed, or if one is unavailable, then any shack or make shift shelter suffices.  These girls and women risk exposure to the elements, snake bites, kidnapping, and sexual assault.  Their “impurity” is somehow forgotten or irrelevant to the men who come to rape them when they are without the protection of the community and vulnerable.  Chaaupadi exacts a heavy toll on a girl’s physical, emotional, and psychological well being.

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Chhaupadi was made illegal in Nepal in 2005, but many women still hold to the tradition, particularly in rural villages.  Kashab told me how as a young boy, he would join his mother in the cowshed to sleep.  Being the only son, he was allowed to stay with his mother, even after weaning.  (Mothers are sometimes allowed to take breastfeeding babies into the cowsheds with them.) He told me about the scratchy hay, the filth, the absolute darkness, the bitter cold, and the stench.  As he grew older, his mother went by herself.  I asked if he ever felt sorry for her, and if he thought that it was right for her to be banished for menstruating.   He said that it was normal.  Every menstruating girl and woman practiced Chauupadi. Still…he didn’t want his mother to go.  He knew what it was like to be hidden away, to be shamed, and sleep exposed on the filthy dung laced straw.  Working with Radha, knowing of the injustices firsthand, and seeing countless women subjected to the same brutal, and sometimes violent treatment, Kashab now speaks against the practice of Chhaupadi.  He keeps his mother and younger sisters from participating.  He does also discourage his older sisters from practicing, but has less of an impact as they’re married and their families expect them to follow tradition.

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Radha, with a shack built specifically for the practice of Chhaupadi

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Inside

Having a man speak against Chhaupadi is huge.  Educating men, like Kashab, and involving them in the eradication of this archaic practice is crucial to garnering support for these girls and women.  The problems these women face, simply because of menstruation, filter into every part of their lives:

Half of the people on the planet are female, most of whom begin their cycles between 9-17 years of age.

Despite menstruation being a natural process that is part of nearly every girl and woman’s life, it is still treated as a taboo in countless cultures and societies across the globe. A profound silence around the topic, combined with a lack of access to information, results in girls and women possessing very little understanding of their own bodies. Many are managing their periods in an unsafe and unhygienic manner, using old rags or other unhygienic and ineffective materials. These problems are exacerbated by limited access to and affordability of hygienic products, safe and private sanitation facilities, inconsistent supplies of water for personal hygiene, and inadequate disposal options.

As a result of the above, menstruating girls and women often feel ashamed and embarrassed about themselves, excarbating the silence because they would rather keep it a secret than talk about it. Facing health problems and socio-cultural taboos surrounding their periods, they become isolated from family, school, and their communities. Women and girls miss school and productive work days, thus falling behind their male counterparts.-Menstrual Hygiene Day

Education, physical, emotional, and psychological health, finances, family dynamics and subsequent dysfunction: the list goes on and on.  It is not a simple matter of bleeding women staying to themselves.  My conversations with Kashab made it clear that this is a violation of fundamental human rights and dignity.  But more on that later…

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Battle Weary

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How do you go from a lifetime of dodging and hiding, trying to stay safe, to letting go of all the harmful coping mechanisms you learned to use to protect yourself with, that no longer serve a purpose?  This facing your demons stuff sounds all well and good, and I have to believe that it will be beneficial in the end, but the process is excruciatingly painful…mostly, I think, because I still feel the need to fight rather than to accept and surrender.

This work that I’m doing is showing me things that I just didn’t know, and while I think I am glad to know, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t painful too.  Trying to name, extract, and embrace each demon without reengaging is confusing, exhausting, time consuming, and yes…ultimately rewarding.  It’s hard for me to remember the sense of peace, acceptance, love, freedom, and gratefulness that I feel when I do this work.  Sometimes, the darkness wins for a while and I am once again lost in despair.  Which, because I have opened the door, is so much worse, not because the demons are free, but because I know now what freedom from them feels like.  And to not feel that freedom is searingly painful.

Emotions…feelings…are hard for me.  I am a cerebral person.  If you asked me what my greatest asset was even a year ago, I would have said my brain.  My brain: my ability to figure things out, to understand, my thoughts…this was my safe haven, the one thing that I could trust and rely upon; me, I was the only person that I could count on, that I could believe.  And to find out that the person that I thought I was, is not really who I am, is unsettling.  One of my many dysfunctional coping mechanisms is that of control.  I try to control others’ reactions and treatment of me by anticipating their needs and wants, and fulling them.  I mirror back what I think they would want me to be.  If you like me, if I’m being the perfect version of me that you want, then you won’t hurt me, you won’t reject me, you won’t abandon me.  I do this whether or not the person asks for this, consciously or subconsciously.  I don’t know that I have ever had an honest interaction with any one person where I was truly myself.  Because I have no idea who that would be.  I was so busy learning how to be the perfect version of me of everyone else, that I didn’t listen to what I wanted my self to be.  I don’t even know how to listen to my self.  No wonder people think my inner child is dead.

Even my parents, the very people who I swore would have no influence in my life, have great influence.  I hated so much of what they were, the things that they did, the things that they said.  I never wanted to be like them.  So I sought to be not them.  But you know what?  That’s still not me.  That’s, not them.  Every decision I’ve made, every turn I took in life has been touched by what I don’t want to be: my parents, unloved, abandoned, rejected, hated, shamed, ridiculed, lost.  But I am exactly that.  I don’t know who or what I am. The one person that I trusted, is nothing more than a mirror.  And that’s a frightening place to be.  Or maybe that’s the exact place I need to be to take the leap from the lion’s head to find out once and for all, who I am, and finally be secure in that knowledge so that I can have a solid foundation upon which I can build genuine, lasting, loving, honest, and fulfilling relationships.

(And as a side note: I know that I am so behind on the posts of Nepal that I promised.  They will come, eventually.  Right now, I am overwhelmed with the task of cleaning house and I can’t give the attention needed to do right by the awesome journey that Nepal was for me.)

 

 

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Revelations

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Did you know that depression can be an insidious thing?  That it sits there waiting, like ha ha, just kidding.  You really thought I went somewhere??  For me, depression makes everything so difficult.  It makes me hide away from everything and everyone.  My mind suffocates with fear, and tells me what my parents told me: I’ll never be good enough, that no matter how hard I try, no matter how much I accomplish, I won’t ever be good enough…ever.  I don’t understand.  I look at my daughter.  I see how wonderful she is, how amazing, and I can’t wrap my head around how my parents didn’t feel the same way about me.  What is it about me that is so wrong?  And it angers me that it still matters to me, after all this time.  That it will keep mattering until I shine a light on the shit that was my childhood, and accept that my parents did the best that they could.  On my good days, I do believe that to be true.  My parents had horrible childhoods as well.  It didn’t start with them.  I guess I just wish that they had been strong enough to make it stop with them.

Being back in Philadelphia with Daniel and Selah has been predictably up and down.  On the one hand, it’s wonderful to be a family again.  Every time I see Selah loving her dad, needing him, enjoying her life with him and with me, I know we both made the right decision to come back together.  On the other hand, we may both be quite perfect for each other  in terms of triggering exactly what we need to look at and work on.  And I guess it depends on how you look at it, but sometimes, it’s hard to see it as anything other than annoying and abrasive.  Cause c’mon!  Sometimes, I’d like to just be happy in my ignorance.  (Not really.)  And the break that we had, living without the other, testing out our own individual strengths, I believe has made it possible for us to be together.  Before, it was more: I can always leave if things are bad.  Now, it’s: ok, how do we fix this? Because there is much to be fixed.

Remember how I wrote about not understanding why my brain keeps engaging my ego and replaying all the god awful tapes of my past?  Well, I think I’ve figured it out, and the answer isn’t pretty…or rather, the solution isn’t pretty.  All that energy I’ve spent trying to keep the demons at bay, stamping down those terrible feelings of shame, anger, and hatred, all those countless hours I’ve spent fighting for control…I need to refocus.  Instead of fighting and trying to hide my horrors, I need to listen.  I need to do for myself, what I would do for my daughter if she were feeling this way.  I wouldn’t tell her she’s weak, that she just needs to try harder.  I wouldn’t tell her to get over it, or that it doesn’t matter.  I would hold that safe place for her to be, think, and feel whatever she wants, so that she herself could finally let it go.  But one of the biggest problems I’m having is that I only know how to talk to and treat my inner child the way my parents did.  Is it any wonder that she’s screaming, and raging at me, hell bent on acknowledgement?  People say that it takes a lot more time and energy to hold back your demons than it does to face them.  It doesn’t seem that way when you first open the door.

 

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The Work of Peace and Spiders, Part 2

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By way of food and drink around a table, the old world is suspended momentarily.  A new world is entered.  At the very least, the portal process is transcended: at best, people move beyond the blockage of exchanged demands.  Something new, something unexpected emerges.  It is as if, when a space is created that incites the broader use of sensuous faculties, people become more human- John Paul Lederach

I moved half a world away, young daughter in tow, to enter a world which I essentially knew nothing of, to work in a field I knew nothing of.  Even the woman I went to work for, Radha Paudel, I knew only as the woman peacemaker who had made such amazing things happen for her country and for her people.  Being back home in the States, I feel such an odd disconnect.  I’m home…and yet I don’t feel home.  It goes beyond missing Nepal, something which I thought I would never do, at least not in the first few months I was there.  I didn’t expect to create a home for my daughter and myself in Nepal.  I didn’t expect to find an extended family in Radha and her family, or friends among my fellow colleagues at Action Works Nepal, or in the international community of expats.  But I did. I moved beyond my experience of discomfort at something new to curiosity…to like…and even to love.  And yes, it started with a meal.

Homemade veg momos with a spicy tomato chutney, and cinnamon rolls from the secret bakery.  It was with this meal that Radha moved from Radha, the woman peacemaker, to Radha, my friend.  We did not talk about work, nor did we speak of peace.  We instead shared stories from our lives and got to know each other as fellow human beings.  And though we are two women from very different backgrounds and upbringings, living in two very different parts of the world…we share so much.  It was in this space that I began to understand and listen to how Radha needed my help, rather than thinking I already knew how to help.  I went from frustration and wanting to leave Nepal, to passion and thinking my time was far too short.  My last couple of months in Nepal were nothing short of amazing, a true once in a lifetime experience.  I am just so grateful that I got the chance to change the mindset I was in, to really see and experience Nepal, her people, her beauty, and be the help that I came to be.

In my last month in Nepal, I was able to go with Radha on one of her many trips to Jumla. Jumla is one of the five districts of Karnali zone, one of the poorest and most remote locations in Nepal.  It was a short trip, only 6 days, but Jumla has a part of me; it is an amazing place.

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In those 6 days, we traveled extensively from village to village to meet with the local women.  It’s one thing to read or hear about the poverty, harsh conditions, and life circumstances of the girls and women in Nepal.  It’s quite another to see it directly for yourself: to feel the cold, walk the dusty, difficult terrain, see the injustices the women and girls live through everyday, and personally experience gender based prejudice and ignorance.  There is so much to be done to advance the equality and dignity of women. And Radha is fearless and seemingly inexhaustible in her fight for peace and social justice. I could not have asked for a better teacher to show me what it means to give of myself, to have humility, generosity, gratitude, and always, to have hope.

Being stateside once more has been a difficult transition and my mother tells me that this is normal, and that it took her months before she felt herself again after she came back from Tanzania.  But…I hope to share my experience of Jumla with you in the coming months so that you too, can know of its beauty, and darkness.

Namasté.

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The Work of Peace and Spiders, Part 1

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Our journey to, and stay in Nepal has and is unfolding very differently than how it did in my mind.  I thought that I would come and do so many things.  I would help Radha and her beloved Action Works Nepal, and further her dreams, her aims, her reach.  I would have a direct effect on the lives of the people that Radha is so dedicated to helping, the most marginalized of Nepali society: the women, Dalit or the untouchables, rural families most especially in Jumla, and the poverty stricken.  I would tackle head on the issues of rape, domestic violence, and gender based violence.  I would utilize what I know to help better people’s lives.

Then I got here, and nothing was what I thought it would be.  I knew enough to not have any expectations, other than for the work I would do.  I didn’t want to come with all these expectations only to be frustrated and angry when inevitably, things would be different.  I just didn’t know how different they would be.  I had done some research.  I read books, I scoured the internet, I talked to people, I asked the questions.  I thought I had done my homework in terms of educating myself about the culture, the people, the environment I would be in. But really, there was no way I could have known beforehand.  It’s something that must be experienced to be known.

When we first got here and faced week after week of sickness, I could only see the differences.  I was out of my mind with worry for Selah.  I was alone in a developing country with a toddler that could not get well, for months.  My support system was half a world away and with spotty internet, I felt horribly alone; I cried nearly everyday.  I didn’t know the language, I didn’t know the people, I didn’t know anything.  I felt powerless.  If you’ve been reading for a while, you know the desperate need for control that I fight against.  And in this world where almost everything I encountered was different and therefore unknowable and uncontrollable, I sought out anything that was familiar.  Even the seemingly simple act of finding eucalyptus trees by the British School soothed my ragged psyche and took me back home to California.

I didn’t want to be in Nepal.  I fought hard against it and all the differences it presented me with.  My resentment and frustration grew with each passing day.  But I couldn’t give up.  I wouldn’t give up.  By sheer will alone, I would make this work somehow.  People were counting on me: Radha, my mom and dad, all my supporters back home, everyone!! I couldn’t fail.  But…I found that it wasn’t my choice to make.  If you’ve been keeping tabs on us, you’ll know that I did ultimately decide to come home in January, months earlier than originally planned.  This rigid stance that I took of not accepting failure broke against wave after wave of my daughter’s ill health.  I did everything that I knew and it still wasn’t enough.  I wasn’t enough.  I was forced to let go. And it was in the letting go that I could finally be still…and listen.  Listen to my daughter…listen to me.

I thought that I knew who I was, what I wanted.  I thought those things came from me, not from other people.  I thought that I was above the influence of outside chatter but that turned out to be not true.  For me, it isn’t so much the influence of media or society. For me, it is the people I cannot bear to let down.  It is the people that I place my self worth on.  If I am not doing, then I am not worthy.  I cannot just…be.  My whole life, I’ve had to do.  And for my biological parents, nothing I could do was enough, and it was never a question of if I could do it.  It was a, “You’d better do it, or else.”

My biological mom worked as a seamstress.  She did piecework in a factory owned by her sister.  Someone had sewn a stack of clothes the wrong way and it was a waste of time and money to have an employee undo each stitch.  My aunt had me come in to help out.  My mom told me to find a way to undo the work quickly as opposed to cutting each stitch and pulling out the resulting mess of thread.  It wasn’t hard.  I just had to understand how the stitches were made in the first place and pulling on the right thread undid all the work without cutting.  I showed this to my mom and aunt.  My mom said, “Now, do it faster.” It seems so simple, so mundane!  But this incident sticks out among the many times when I was told, and took into my self, the notion that I was not good enough…that, I never would be.  My straight A’s since Jr. High, glowing teacher reports, status as salutatorian, help at church, cooking, cleaning, looking after my younger brother, everything I did for them: none of it was ever good enough.  I was not good enough.

Growing up and living in an abusive environment, you learn really quickly, that to avoid punishment, you need to be perfect.  You have to anticipate what they want, what they’ll need from you.  And you give it to them…or you’ll be sorry.  Though I left my biological parents’ home at 16, I still carried with me my shamed self.   The one that could only be worth something, as long as I was excelling, as long as I was doing perfect.  And though she expressly stated the opposite, I believed my real mom would be so disappointed in me for leaving Nepal early, for not doing the work that both she and I thought I would do. I thought that Radha would think less of me, that she would be angry that I wasted her time.  I thought my mom would be ashamed of me.  I thought so many of the people who supported me and helped me to get here, would feel let down and think their money wasted.

When I was forced to let go of my trip to Nepal as I thought it would be, I found not only freedom from these thoughts, but also that most, if not all were…untrue.  I also found that it was the stillness that I needed to even begin any sort of meaningful peace work.  It was only with the stillness that I was able to begin to see, to listen…to feel.

Web watching requires deep observation.  It can only be done with patience and time.  You must imagine the whole even when it is not visibly present, and you must follow the strands that you touch.  Web watching leaves us with perhaps two of the most important questions peace builders must keep present early and often: What exists?  And how are we in relationship to it?  Web watchers propose a simple idea: Relational spaces create and hold the center of social change.  Finding, understanding, and relating to the webs that exist require stillness, humility, and our full senses.  Web watching, the zen of going nowhere, attends to whole universes with gentle movement.  It touches the soul of a place. – John Paul Lederach

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