It was declared to me who you were: it is declared to me that you are seeking to escape from the lot God has laid upon you. You wish your true name and your true place in life to be hidden, that you may choose for yourself a new name and a new place, and have no rule but your own will. And I have a command to call you back.
George Eliot -- Romola
recent continued response to the cornwall diary gave me to think. and i want to respond again. it's a different sort of response than the last one which was more or less a general missive of gratitude.
i am somewhat astonished about people writing me. i didn't expect that sort of resonance. i thought i just write this down and nothing happens like normal, because often tend to assume i am not being listened to when in fact i am actually being listened to only that hasn't sunk in yet (or generally: that sometimes people think they are not listened to, but they are only not in ways that they expected). and i have to think about what to make of it. suddenly people listen and what i say has some kind of impact.
and that i feel responsible in some way - to react in some way, to say something. it's a special sort of responsibility and some grave reasons why i feel i cannot leave those responses unanswered. and to those who wrote: don't feel you made me do it - i don't want to leave this unanswered. but then again... there are limits to one's strength and to what one can do. and i thought: how am i going to do this, what am i going to say.
the nature of the responses were twofold: people who know me and wrote to me and then - and this is the ones that wrote somewhat later - the ones that are afflicted themselves. and when i was reading that there were things i have noticed: i am the older one now. and i need to be careful about this, what does it mean, the older one. first, being the older one i don't mean to claim any kind of superiority, and on the contrary i want to say: it's not that. i don't have answers. caution also, because the pain can flare up any time again. there's a reasons why i abstain from reading the newspapers most of the time. i am not on the other side to wave back and be the shining beacon of "the happy life." so there is no superiority of how to do it in it.
but being the older one means also feeling responsible as well. i read of some suffering and thought: i was feeling that horrid too. but not anymore.
maybe being the older one means one is in a different stage of pain. one just has lived longer, got accustomed to one's emotional responses (or maybe not). the duration, the occasional persistence do things to oneself. the familiarity to one's own suckitude constitute maybe the being the older one... one has tried for some time longer to live something down. and this means things are a bit different. than when one is younger. not much maybe, in some instances it may not matter, in others maybe it does.
maybe it's like this. you think you're young and strong and maybe it's a shitty time now, but soon life will be ok, in a few months or so, ok make that years. ok make that decades. ok make that the rest of your life. it's not going away so you have to live with it all somehow. so there is acceptance. not that acceptance necessarily makes things easier. acceptance sometimes is also a response to tiredness. it's not the same as resignation though.
so the older one. bit like being the oldest sibling. one looks out for the younger ones. not because of some kind of - obligation, but because it just feels the normal, decent thing to do.
that in a way i owe it to people that helped me to help others, as much as i can (which may not be very much).
which leads back to the grave reasons why i feel i need to respond in some way. hose grave reasons are of course silence and the lack of words, alluded to by the dworkin quote below. why i feel that it is really important maybe to not even to respond, but to say something in order to not to add to that tyranny of silence and to make things worse:
There is a tyranny that preordains not only who can say what but what women especially can say. There is a tyranny that determines who cannot say anything, a tyranny in which people are kept from being able to say the most important things about what life is like for them. That is the kind of tyranny I mean.
and what people wrote to me was precisely out of this - i don't want to say spirit - but out of this very common impasse, or better: suffocating force - of not being able to say the most important things about what life is like for them. for many reasons, the horridness as such is difficult to comprehend and to put into words and people/society don't make it any easier.
and that was - what actually set me to think: what's going on here. this sort of thing when you read and you wonder why the author knows what you think, how on earth do they know what's going on in my soul. etc. except it was the other way round, i expressed something and people said it was important to them that it was expressed because they themselves couldn't do it. in the same way i have read things by others and wondered: how are they able to articulate this... anyway.
words are not really easy and i am not really sure i got round to say what i wanted to say. what i wanted to say was that i treasure those responses very much. what i also wanted to say - and this leads to the responsibility bit (and i am not really sure i can live up to that idea of responsibility, or whether i can do justice to it, am not having something smart to say and feel my helplessness in the face of some of the gruesome stuff people live through) - don't mock the suffering. don't leave them. don't tell them that their pain is too big. help them to say the most important things about their life.