So, as the saying goes "(insert your belief) does not give you more than you can handle", but that saying is bullshit. There are times that you get a plateful of circumstance and you just can't stomache it all. You try but it's just too much...you know you cannot handle it. You know, but you blindly try anyway. You put on a happy face even though your blasted soul wants to run away. Run away to a safe happy place. A place well within your comfort zone. Floating freely in the shallow sissy-ass surf instead of fighting for your sanity amongst the deep pounding waves.
You put it in your head that you've had enough, that you are certainly on the wrong path...that even though all the signs in your past led you to this place, this place where you supposedly are meant to be, maybe, just maybe you read one of the signs wrong. That one sign -while you were in a foreign country- that sign that was in a strange language, perhaps. You know you don't always like to admit it when you are confused, when you are lost...maybe that is what happened. You didn't know the meaning of the sign, but you pretended you did and it led you down the wrong path. The wrong way, but you kept going because like a wedding engagement that wasn't meant to be, you know it feels amiss, but it's extremely difficult to stop that fucking white lacy ball from rolling and it is rolling so fast.
Rolling so fast along the wrong path. Oh wait...you recognize this scenario You know you have been here before. You stop everything and move to the side of the road. In the grass and weeds you stop, close your eyes, hands on knees you take in full deep breaths, then open your eyes and examine the path you just stepped from, the path that for so long was smooth and easy is now full of rocks, potholes, twists and turns. What the hell! How did it get so rough?
Then you see an innocent face connected to a tiny body lying helpless in the path and unlike your young engagement (which you knew for months was wrong), your heart pulls you back to that damn path that you were sure was leading you in the wrong direction.
For 25 years, you have learned to listen to every core of your being and know what you need to do. Listen to your caring heart, your existence: You know now is not the time to turn back and run.
In the past you ran, not out of fear, not because you gave up, but because you knew deep down that that rocky road would lead you towards disaster not away from. You look at the path in front of you and wipe your eyes, you notice the small flowers poking up through the rocks as well as the twists and turns which now appear not as sharp as you initially percieved.
You take another sip of your $3.00 coffee and you breathe. You feel the coffee's warmth and smoothness as it flows into your body. You -with subconscious fluidity- place your glasses on the top of your head, and now with able access, rub your eyes deeply, then commence rubbing your whole face, feel your energy level rise, your mind dismisses the tossing and turning painful sleeplessness remembrance of the night before.
You look at the beautiful life next to you, that tiny life lying directly in your path. The life that is ridiculously burdened with anemia, HIV, TB and the recently detected hole in her heart.
You remember the 50+ innocent lives dependent upon your care, the small and the tall all carrying their individual suitcases filled with past helplessness, despair, abuse, neglect and vulnerability. You bundle them all up in your arms and relish in their sheer weight. With a semi-clear mind, you struggle to get back on the path whilst slipping a few times; "How did you allow your mind to wander so far off?" you ask yourself. You shift the weight around, Is it your imagination... or is the load getting lighter?
You get back on the path, you look left and you look right. The shallow end is calling you, ahh...floating freely alone, not a care in the world...but with a confident smile and the 'I want' line creasing firmly on your forehead, you head in the opposite direction.
This post spewed forth redicuously fast, (faster than I could write with a pen and paper -a skill I had long since dismissed) after walking the long hospital corridor as I cared for our sickest child. Through out the days, I walked past a corridor lined with beds. Beds filled with infants and their family members. A mother and father sitting in a bed holding a tiny sick infant. A grandmother with her sickly grandchild, the beds went on and on. Not in rooms, but in the hallway, in beds, to fill the overflow.
I walked until I reached the doors to freedom, to the outside. As I walked past more families in peril, who were stationed outside, I finally reached the outskirts of the hospital grounds. Coming upon the main road, I turned left. Destination programed in Google maps on my iPhone -Brown Coffee. A place where I was to buy my $3.00 latte.
Once inside the modern air-conditioned cafe, I dropped down about $8.00 for a large double-shot latte and banana muffin for me and and iced chocolate for my teen helper, Srey Nak. As I waited for the order to be prepared, I was overcome with remorse. How could I -without even thinking about it- drop down so much money so easily? For the poorest of the poor, $8.00 is more than a week's wage. Minutes in my world.
People die for lack of $8 worth of antibiotic for an infection. How could I be so careless?
I remember my life's balance...my life's balance. It cannot be changed where I was born, where my parent's (who also had no control over their parents lovemaking) love produced a newborn girl in the wee hours of 25 February, 1968. Thank goodness the birth control pill made my mom sick!
The struggle is real for many expatriates (a person who lives outside their native country) all over the world. How do we balance our previous lifestyle while living in a country with so many destitute. How do I not feel guilty paying for luxuries? (and they are luxuries, -no one anywhere needs a $3.00 cup of coffee with steamed milk.)
I am almost 50 years old, regardless of how I feel or appear to be, and I have live over 40 of those years in luxurious comfort. Once upon a time (was that this lifetime?), I flew to vacationland in private planes for god sakes with the destination to miscellaneous 5 star hotels and an unlimited budget. But for whatever reason, my path has led me to live a life opposite of what I used to work in. It's not easy to change and, for the vast majority it's not desirable, to give up life as we know it and live in a similar financial status as those around us. "How does an expat exactly live on $1.00USD a day, much less $10 or $15, or even $20.00USD a day?" Why would they try?
This is a question that cannot be easily answered. For myself, that is the balance, how to live in rural Cambodia, to fit in the best a blue-eyed, light skinned American woman can, within a village of beautiful multi-colored skinned, brown eyed humans. How to find that balance without feeling guilt, without feeling the burden of privilege (and yes, privilege can be an emotional burden) without feeling that the Universe has given up on me, or laughed in my face.
Balance...realization...the ability to 'handle it'.
In reality, I have given up nothing, I have received everything.