“We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom.
We lived in the gaps between the stories.”
― Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
There are over 7 billion people in the world. I often wonder how many are sick, capable, dying, bound, working, starving, healthy or hurt. Living in this very free and rich country, which we stole, is what affords me the freedom to sit and think; raising the child we’ve beaten into much nothing. I mostly don’t have to worry about what I’ll eat or where I’ll sleep now, which leaves me with all this time to consider the how, who, what, when and why’s. Maybe? It’s freedom that gives me the space to consider the unmet needs on the counter, the space to observe and yearn them, the disrupted sleep and unrelentingly nightmares every day of being infiltrated with awareness of the past and presentations. What future? It might not be the self-actualization I’ve read about, all this contemplating but again. I’m wearing clothes, there’s a roof over my head. A twin bed. No one’s attacking me. So I have this space to think, pause, breathe and be with marginalization. Margarine. Butter. What could be better? What could be whole? Foods. Tired of being a side salad so I’ve shrunken to shrimps and am gratefully losing.
I watch us; people clamoring, hitting, biting, performing, posting, strutting, clawing, swaggering, hiding in unhiddenness, hiding with intentional intention, proselytizing in bus stops alongside busy roads, literally begging, holding signs that beg for it…us, begging for food, attention, mattering, counting, for recognition, sheltering, mother and fathering, for money, scheming, screaming ‘count me, see me, eye me, I me, aye me.‘. I stop my vehicle of priviledge at the stop sign because you insist with your eyes and hips, your carriage and walker, your child and affect, that I, eye, take notice of your existence and count it, and stop for you, watch as you cross your entire life’s history in front of the head lights. WAKE UP! Your body and being ask, don’t tell, to take, not give, notice. The sign on the bum of your pants, the sign on your t-shirt, the sign on your bumper sticker, tattoo, infant’s onesie all saying the same thing essentially, ‘ I matter. I’m matter. I’m madder. I’m sadder, better, beaten, bested, in desperate need of rest, arrest me! I dare you! Cuff me and stuff me in a cage and watch me pace and watch, through my behavior, with my own subconscious purpose, watch! what someone else has done to me.’ Maybe we’re not all so aware of the desperate need to have someone care and for sure some of us are simply here in the gaps and margins wondering what it’ll take to help them know there’s a way out of the addiction to count. You cannot stay 12 forever 21. You might not want to spend every night being stitched up from self-inflicted wounding. At some point it does become our own. Maybe you were 9, 2 or 40, but at some point you pick up the pieces and right the story.
There are little pockets of the world where no one has a photograph of their own face, let alone a book collection of self-reflections and yet these souls know they’re alive. A man I once met spent his childhood on the riverbank of the Ganges and said he didn’t know the true concept of death and loss of freedom till he came to America and learned about money.
In America people with handicap placards cut off people walking with grossery baggage to pull into their spot of reservation. RESERVATIONS! and yet we say, ‘This is mine! It belongs to me! I stake claim. I lay blame. Move out of MY way.’ Our anger is visceral. Our emptiness cavernous. Did you notice me yet?
I remember being small and watching other children swimming in the lake at Breezy Acres, turning in the black pond water flipping and dripping with anticipation, need, (can a child possess greed? At what point do we cut us off and say we’ve gotten enough?) MOM! LOOK! Watch ME! Watch ME! Watch ME! Did you see my trick? Am I real? Am I good? Do you love me? Am I better than my brother? My sister? My friend? Am I best? Am I best? Am I best?” How much do we need to feel filled up? Content? Rested? Secure? Attached? Unproving?
What are we priding, praising, raising here? Inside the micro it becomes a personal conversation between two ego-points, a shallow shell that loses credence as soon as you utter the words, In my experience… Stick to the facts. Give me data or give me death. Ok. Last year child abuse cost the taxpayers $94 billion dollars. Condoms are free at Planned Parenthood. Condemn who? No snowflake in an avalanche feels responsible. Did your goldfish die?
Two young girls had just come off a flight and were in the bathroom with their mother fighting about who had the more chapped lips of the two. The mother paused from her own lipstick application to intently observe her children. Finally, after a brief eternity she pointed to one. The chosen child celebrated her more chapped status. In that moment, hurt meant loved. The end.