Revisiting

I often think about how Haiti is "settling" itself more into who I am on a gradual, continual basis as time goes on.  The constant sharp, urgent, and almost frantic feeling that used to accompany my convoluted  and contradictory thoughts about this country is slowly eroding to be replaced by the recognition of what Haiti has brought to my life and the acceptance that I am part of a "club" of people whose journeys have intersected with Haiti in some way.  I welcome the transition from desperate grasping at what Haiti means to me towards acknowledgement and acceptance of how it has changed my life.

This smoothing-out of feelings isn't perfect; I sometimes get a pang of the almost violent feeling, especially when I am torn between loving a country almost desperately and at the same time hating so much about the corruption, suffering, and slow progress towards recovery.  But I'm getting to the point where I am able to be angry and impatient about the politics/injustice/desolation as well as some of the frustrating cultural differences that make my own experience with Haiti less-than-ideal, and at the same time separate out my gratitude for what my experience with Haiti has brought to my life, in many ways enriching my experience and giving me direction and meaning.  

This "settling"- this acceptance - sometimes means that I am less frantic about absorbing everything about Haiti and obsessing about reading each news bite.  It means that lately, I'm a bit less informed, a bit less of an expert on the current situation. There are pros and cons to this, and while I may have been more successful at nurturing my normal life without constantly throwing Haiti into it, I still do want to take time to acknowledge, remember, and inform myself.  This is a constant process and a constant battle; this vacillation between nurturing my separate self and nurturing the huge part of me that belongs to Haiti.  But I'm getting there.


This week I revisited a poem by Annie Dillard that is almost too perfect, especially the first line:

I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world,
but I am getting along.
I am aging and eaten
and have done my share of eating too.
I am not washed and beautiful,
in control of a shining world
in which everything fits,
but instead am wondering, awed about
on a splintered wreck I've come to care for,
whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air,
whose bloodied and scarred creatures
are my dearest companions,
and whose beauty bats and shines
not in its imperfections
but overwhelmingly in spite of them...
Haiti is:
 my fallen world
 the splintered wreck I've come to care for;
its inhabitants the bloodied and scarred creatures:
my dearest companions.

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