Tuesday, October 7, 2008

reconciling (part 5)

i am both intelligent and informed. sometimes to my detriment. i've have spent most of my life in isolation, despite the number of great people i have been lucky enough with whom to surround myself. somewhere inside me there is a disconnect that appears constant and confusing. i am intelligent and informed enough to know what happened to me is not my fault. but i can't help but feel otherwise. the conflicts of emotion and knowledge can be so destructive. they become this mobius strip of introversion. even now there are times where i get so stuck inside my own head, i go through most of the day without realizing i haven't eaten. this has, of course, over time and since my trip, gotten better. but, still.

our days in cambodia were both fantastic and mired with a kind of suffering none of has had ever seen or dreamed of seeing. we are informed and intelligent, and it puts our own turmoils into perspective. it always will. the sights we saw we could never forget; we will never forget. and because i am intelligent i try to force my own turmoils to shrink so far down they can barely be seen or felt or heard. i've read the books, and so i know this is something we do. this is part of coping. i am intelligent and so i know life is so much bigger than me. that our individual problems are so much smaller than global pain and suffering. in the grand scheme of things, they mean nothing. how can i cry over hiv? how can i cry over so many little things, when faced with so much grief there in siem reap? but, still.

on our third day, we rode an elephant to a temple atop a hill in angkor. the views were spectacular. we marveled over the great tonle sap and the numerous temple tops rising up from the jungles below. it was impossible to look around without wanting to stay a hundred more days. it was impossible to reconcile all the pain and beauty below us. we slowly walked about the uneven rock walkways, the uprooted floor below, the carvings so intricate and precise. stories. the stories of achievement and strife and effort and time. mostly of time. how could you not feel so small, so surrounded by the evidence of time?

we could have spent another $10 a piece taking an elephant back down the hill, but opted to walk instead. the dirt trail to the ground wound back and forth across the hillside. as we made our way down, we came upon a slow and sullen huddle of people. we approached to find a young mother, barefoot and bone thin, cradling her baby. monique and i were overcome by our own tears. the boy's head easily rivaled his body in size. and from behind his eye bulged what i can only assume is a tennis ball sized tumor. his eyes were completely rolled into the back of his head. and his mother wept with such heartbreak, i felt my breath momentarily retreat from me. and all i could think was, that boy has maybe a week or two. and then what? i'll be gone. all these tourists, crying, will be gone. we'll be safely in our homes or hotels. we'll be poolside or watching television or eating out. and that woman's child will be dead. and no one will know or care. no one will ever know. and she'll be alone.

and there we found ourselves, again, returning to our hotel in silence. my own heartbreaks were suddenly so small. but, still.

we returned to the hotel, showered and changed, then headed to a nearby bar for beers and cheap eats. it felt so cold. it felt so foreign. it felt so unfair. how do we do? what were we supposed to do? what do i do now?

1 comment:

Molly said...

molly.auf at gmail.com. i'd love to chat if you're up for it.