Restlessness is something I’m familiar with. I’ve moved 10 times in 5 years… But this time, it’s hitting me a bit differently. Partly because every time I glance at the news, I have to double check that it’s not an Onion article (eg. US issues Worldwide travel alerts??). I mean, these are some headlines over the last couple of days…
“Sweden slams shut its open-door policy towards refugees.” –The Guardian
“Food prices rise sharply after fighting disrupts Afghan harvest.” –Irin
“Standoff over government climate study provokes national uproar by scientists.” –Reuters
Awesome. It’s like raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…
When a Scandinavian country is slamming anything other than poetry you just know something is seriously wrong. I’m not even going to get into some of the headlines that happened after the Paris Attacks. It’s all just completely counterproductive to the way we need to be approaching this absurd global threat that’s completely fuelled by hatred of the “other.”
Anyway, I digress. Restlessness. It’s also partly attributed to the fact that I’m having so much trouble integrating myself into my current “community.” At work I’m meant to be contributing to some sort of global “good” but mostly I feel like I’m watching a slow-motion reel of the world falling apart as antibiotic resistance becomes terrifying enough to deserve a horror movie trailer, climate change and the kindle of greed work together to literally burn down entire forests (thanks palm oil), and there’s just no food ever- for more reasons than I can list off without making this a systematic review. Meanwhile I write papers. And reports. And make presentations that nicely tell the story of papers and reports that have set goals and targets to mitigate our collective descent into disaster.
My usual solution to feeling this level of futility at work is to start volunteering. I was raised by a woman who can’t stand still. Ever since I can remember she’s been desperate to do something-anything- to make someone else’s life suck just a little less. My subconscious is her voice telling me that my reach doesn’t end at my hands and feet and that there’s always more I could do. In most of the places I’ve lived, I’ve been able to channel this into some level of mildly productive activity. But now… now, I’m stuck and feel like a high school chemistry experiment gone wrong. It’s as if half of my energy doesn’t know where to go and ends up tuning into the recesses of my mind where the bizarre thrive. And no, I’m not artistic enough to wrangle out a Picasso from whatever those nooks and crannies hold.
On the plus side, this dip in the peaks and troughs of my past few months has shed some light on a misconception I’d had about community. I’ve generally discounted the whole idea, being mostly annoyed at small communities and preferring the ability to melt into the backdrop of anonymity whenever I wanted to, only to pop out in Technicolor as needed and on my own terms. What I hadn’t fully appreciated was that at every stage, I had still been connecting to elements of a “place” without realizing it and creating a custom community if you will. This time around, the process is taking longer than usual and I feel desperate to fix something- anything for someone- anyone. Altruism is “selfless” by definition… does it count if it’s for selfish reasons. Is that the altruist’s paradox? IS THAT WHAT’S WRONG WITH EVERYTHING.
Hopefully there’s a part 2 to this post that makes a bit more sense and sounds less… lost. Unless I get completely disheartened by the world falling apart again -_-
I’ll just leave this here: