Monday, April 11, 2011
She's Got the Whole World in Her Heart
This turning forty is going to be a lot harder than I was thinking, and planning on it to be. I was watching my favorite "Globetrekker" with the trekker in Antarctica, when I just started crying. It was when a whale began following the boat, seemingly showing itself to the crew. Not only was I in awe, I just became so sad, knowing that I will never go whale watching. I will never hug a Redwood Tree. I will never go to Paris. I cried such greedy tears, comparing all that I haven't done to what others have. I know that these things will never happen in my life. It is not being negative, it is a reality. I struggle every month to make sure I have toilet paper and food. Which to some, in comparison, are veritable luxuries.
I was knocked back to this reality when after an hour or so of fidgeting and staring, I watched the documentary "A Walk to Beautiful" about women in Ethiopia with obstetric fistulas. These women, often married off at the ages of 8 and 10, have such complicated pregnancies that labor lasts so long (days, even a week) the child not only dies but the woman is left incontinent of urine and sometimes feces as well. They are pariahs, left to live in tiny huts, shacks, away from society and family. In some of these villages the nearest road is a six hour walk and after that a seventeen hour bus ride to the nearest city. These women are so ostracized, and without aid that the ride on the bus is such a horror. I was ashamed of my greed of wanting after watching this. I have wondered for years, why does it take witnessing the misfortune of others to remind a person to be grateful? Does being grateful mean not wanting? I'm not clear on this. I'm not clear on anything.
Last month when my Mother turned sixty, I asked her what she knows now that she didn't when she was younger and her answer was that she knew less. I think this is such an important and profound distinction between youth and experience. With the more you know, things aren't as clear. With more experience comes more understanding that there is so much more to understand and so many more possibilities that everything you were once so certain of, vanishes. Certainty is no longer so certain. I am not so certain how I am going to handle being forty. But I have said, better than not.