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Sporadic photos and notes from a Psyche-midwife, cheerleader, anthropologist--aka clinical social worker in therapy practice. Photos are usually mine except for those of historical events/famous people. Music relevant to the daily topic is often included in a web video embedded below the blog. Click on highlighted links in the copy to get to source or supplemental material. For contact information, see my website @ janasvoboda.com or click on the button to the right below. Join in the conversation.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

this life of mud and miracles

It's been a horrific week on the planet, hasn't it?
A woman asked me tonight how I was "processing the events in Boston."  An honest question-- the quotes aren't meant to imply less.  And my answer, like my process, was not very articulate.  I was in horror that day.  I had been sucked for a time into a familiar narrative about inhumanity.  And later in the day, I felt collapsed to read about the dozens killed in bombings in Iraq, and then worried about friends on the Iran/Pakistan border who'd suffered through a major earthquake, and the dozen or more my own government had killed via video-game-like drone strikes.  Such suffering exists!  And ours no less real than those of our brethren in a dozen other countries.

I look at the faces of the young men, one younger than my own son, who apparently caused this great suffering.  I feel such sorrow, and yes, compassion.  What could drive someone to see life as so meaningless, to be able to make another human-- someone's sister, daughter, father, son?-- so anonymous?

 It's easy to hate.  And lazy.  We want to see ourselves as different, above-- and this arrogance leads us to cheapen the lives of others.

A long story led me to a more worldly understanding.  After losing one of my senses, I worked hard to develop another that was lagging.  I joined a world photo diary coordinated by artist Wolf Nkolze Helzle of Germany.  Through it, I "met" friends from far away-- from Pakistan, Finland, Iraq, Indonesia.  The world became smaller, and foreigners-- less foreign.   An earthquake in Karachi, terrorism in Iraq, relentless winter in Germany became as unsettling as random violence in the US.  Good, or bad, this extra kinship?  Well, both, of course.  More love equals more responsibility.  We all are in this (little planet) together.  And through these friendships it's even clearer that we are all so much more alike than different.  We love, we suffer, we get defended and weary.  We try to simplify the complications that mark each human journey by applying false formulas of "us" and "them", and then, if we can bear being open and suffering with (com-passion),  we see that we are just-- we. 

It's easier to shut down.  To not care, to not look or see, to pretend that somehow our pain or longings or love is more real than someone who lives far away, and thanks a different or no God.  Can we sit with that desire without succumbing to it?  Forgive ourselves for our smallness and still find the energy to enlarge? 

Chekhov said " Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." I don't buy it.  If we feel, we feel it all, suffering and happiness.  Pretending a divide lessens us all.

As a closing note:  I am thinking so much about the terrible losses and deaths in West, TX this week, many of whom were first responders to an industrial fire that became an explosion.  Their story was lost in the wake of the Boston bombings and aftermath.  If you know a first responder-- a firefighter, EMT, police officer etc--  let them know you appreciate their service.

Now go out there and drown hate with your love.

PS:  The title is taken from a beautiful song by Richard Buckner.  "How this life from mud to miracles/It's the prettiest little burden isn't it?"

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