My mate and uber–blogger Eden has been in Niger very recently as part of an initiative by World Vision to help spread the word about the impeding food crisis… I won’t go into all the details here. You know the drill. And if you don’t, educate thyself. Start by reading the last few posts Eden has written, and go from there.
Reading the first post she wrote from there, the sense of shell shock was palpable. Not even the deeper emotions of gratitude and wonder and sadness and all those other things– they came up later, they’re still coming up now, I guess, as she makes her way home- she may in fact be home by the time this is published, and I hope she is, safe and sound and filled with a thousand more things to tell the world.
But in that first post….it was total culture shock; the complete, brutal contrast from her life– our lives– to the lives of the people she was now immersed in.
Shell shock. Horror. Fear. Terror. But Eden is the bravest of the brave– so brave I bet she doesn’t even see it anymore, it’s ingrained and she can’t remember what it was like to shy away from things. She still feels that fear, for sure, but it never occurs to her to pander to it anymore– she’s kicked it’s arse too many times before.
|Eden and I, circa sometime last year….|
The bravest of the brave, and that’s a good thing. World Vision picked the right person– Eden knows what’s it’s like to be terrified, and keep on going.
I found myself afraid for her. Reading about security briefings, bad food (seriously, Lori?) and the ferocity of what she was experiencing– the realness of it, where you can’t switch off the TV or x the screen or hop into your comfy, warm bed and sleep and forget that side of life exists at all.
So I sat there, reading Eden’s first post from Africa, and I’m feeling genuinely frightened for her. And at the same time I’m feeling like a total dick again.
Here I am, so afraid for Eden, because it’s Eden– Eden of the skulls and cowboy boots, Eden who is not too cool to admit she was intimidated in LA Ink; Eden who laid a ritual of flowers in a temple in Bali, placing them in the shape of my husbands name… a ritualistic act of prayer that I’ve never expressed the importance of, properly.
But what makes Eden so different from any other woman in Niger, except for that the fact that I know her, that she lives in my over-privileged society too, were it’s possible to be friends with woman who live hours away because we just can; were we’re so granted with stuff we don’t even know we know we have it?
Not a damn thing. Except that while it’s so easy to make the people of entire continent faceless, to not even consider that, except for a slip of fate that had me born into a body that was located here and not there…. I know things about Eden that make her real. And having her there, seeing her amongst it, someone I know and have hugged and cried on her shoulder (hey, I’ve cried on most Aussie bloggers shoulder’s at one point or another, either across wifi or in person), seeing her against a backdrop of the world’s community I normally prefer not to think about it… it makes it very, very real.
These women, these men, these children…. they all have favorite music and smells and foods and colors too. They have nights where they can’t sleep too, but for reasons far more mortal and elemental than mine.
I’m sitting, right now, on a lounge suite that I think needs replacing soon. It’s got a bit of wear and tear and, really, we could do with a new one.
It’s worth more, in it’s current soiled, used state, that an entire family in Niger would earn in a year.
Once again, that sense of privileged entitlement– so disgustingly ingrained and base in my psyche– smacks me in the face with itself. And suddenly, amongst a whole huge planet of people, I feel very, very small.