Friday, July 18, 2014

A Sad Welcome

Has anyone been brave enough to follow the news lately? To be honest, I haven't, although it's obviously impossible to avoid hearing about the awful shit that is happening out there. When I was a teacher, I followed the news like it was my job, probably because I felt like it was. I taught World History and one of our longest units was the Israeli-Palestinian confict. I knew my history of that region like the back of my twenty-something hand. I'm rusty on it now, but if there's one thing I do remember is that the issues are centuries old, engrained in people at a celluar level, and complicated beyond belief. 

I'm not proud to admit that these days, my knowledge of world news comes largely from social media, John Oliver, or I know, it's very provincial of me. But for a second, I want to explain. 

In the last few days, I have seen several Facebook posts and Twitter tweets, and even heard comments on the street and on the train along the lines of "the world being on the brink of disaster." When I hear comments like this, an ugly voice inside me says something, well, really ugly. And it always says the same thing. 

"Welcome to my world." 

I am aware of how selfish and stupid it may sound for me to compare my life to the lives of people in war-torn parts of the world. In most ways, the comparison is completely ridiculous. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to write about my ugly voice because sometimes even ugly voices need to be heard. 

I recently learned via a Facebook post by a woman I very much admire that in Israel, people subscribe to a "Red Alert" app on their phone. The app warns them of where bombs are being sent so that they have time to take shelter. Apparently the Red Alert is so active that if you have it on and try to sleep at night, you'll be up every hour. It's tragic beyond words and I cannot begin to imagine how scary that is for people there. 

Or maybe, just maybe, a little tiny part of me can. 

Because often, when I feel a pain, any pain, it's like my own little Red Alert. Is this it? I wonder. Is this the pain that will kill me? And then, my craziness overpowers my anxiety medication and for a minute or two, my world falls into disaster. I start to think about how I would tell people, what I would do, what I would write, and how I'd ever pull myself together. In those few minutes, my whole world teeters on the brink of destruction; my own tiny (and huge), insignificant (yet so very significant) world comes under attack. And I desperately try to find shelter.

So next time that I hear someone say that they feel like the world is about to fall apart, I'm going to try to silence my ugly voice's "Welcome to my world." Instead, I'll try to get my kinder voice to speak up. But what should she say? Wait, I know. 

Maybe she'll say something like, "Welcome to our world." How very sad. 

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