“We throw our parties; we abandon our families to live alone in other countries; we struggle to write things that do not change the world, despite our extravagant hopes. We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep. It’s as simple and ordinary as that.”
I wrote this in an email to a friend several months ago. It’s not a depressing or negative reflection for me now, but just a reality and something that I smile at, because it’s true. At least for me, it feels pretty on point. It feels good to have gained some more humility about the flawed nature of aid work, and still be able to recognize the good that’s in there somewhere. To be able to accept that reality, but still look with awe at the things I’ve been able to do and experience here and in past positions. I think if you are at the point where you can’t do that, where everything is shadowed in a bitter, jaded light, then you’ve been in it too long. Being just a newb, that’s thankfully not me yet, but I’ve come across a few individuals whose dispositions make it pretty clear that a tipping point has been reached. The ironic thing is that they’re always in-country, and seem completely incapable of going home, probably because they don’t have something that really feels like ‘home’ to go back to. Their strange, paradoxical lived reality in the field has become home, and despite the misery it causes them, it also draws them to stay.
So, maybe I’m dodging a bullet there.