Archive for April, 2009

It’s necessary

April 25, 2009

There was a time in my life when I employed the ideas of others to express my own.  A time when I had no voice, and spoke in the voice provided, repeating, in the words provided, the ideas conceived by others.

I read poems for love, repeating phrases popularized by popular people, looking for the meaning of life or the moment in books and songs that came into my hands by chance.

And when it came to elevated and solemn things, I would always have at hand a slogan, an oath, an insult to the Enemy, to shout with fervor in the square crowded with others like myself.

The years have made me suspicious of this searching for life in books and songs.  This search for the meaning of life in the by-products that fall off the production line of life.  This always looking somewhere else for life, somewhere outside of life itself.

And although suspicious of them, my books no longer confused me.  Life confused me, when I was faced with the unexpected, that I hadn’t lived, that I hadn’t read.  Life confused me, to spare me the confusion if sometimes the scene repeated itself.  To make me believe in my own strength.  To force me to grow.

There was a time in my life when I would laugh at those who argued very seriously that they had to write a book because they couldn’t find one that satisfied them.  Today I know that to grow we must speak in our own voice and write our own book.  It’s necessary to risk.  And to create.

The Life of Sisyphus – Part 4

April 3, 2009

She enters her apartment and sits in front of the fan trying desperately to stop her sweating, her body just not breathing through her clothes. She looks for her hose and begins filling the water tank in the kitchen and, after, the one on the balcony. Although the pump howls as if it were going to break down along with the buildings that surround it, the water pressure is so low there isn’t even enough to fill two tanks at the same time. Also, she must watch the tanks as they are filling to ensure the water doesn’t overflow and flood the apartment below, for this would cause terrible grief with her neighbors. A few months ago, overwhelmed by never-ending problems, she left for work leaving the valve open and two apartments were flooded. Already feeling so much shame, never had she so wished for the ground to open and swallow her as when she came home that evening and found the neighbors below waiting for her with looks that could kill and mattresses drying off in the sun. She of course accepts the responsibility for being careless but she cannot suppress the thought that if only water was available 24 hours a day, it would be impossible to accidentally leave the pump going and she wouldn’t have to fill all the buckets and tanks crammed into her already narrow apartment.

Water has always been a problem. Or rather, the problem. Fifteen years ago, when she arrived, a bride to this newly constructed building in a clearing without trees or sidewalks on the outskirts of town, they had water on alternate days.  Now there are twice the number of buildings and they only have access to water every three days, and the problem with the water is always a topic of discussion amongst the neighbors and the delegates and council members. The planning continues, almost out of sight and out of mind, but occasionally they issue encouraging words: the finances have already been approved, the new system will be ready by the middle of next year, we’re waiting for the materials to arrive… and so on and so on. Today, ‘the water problem’ remains the same, as does so much in her life and so she no longer goes to the meetings.  She no longer understands those who are consoled thinking there are worse places, places with water only once a week, instead of trying to find ways to solve the problem. But ‘progress continues’, as the corporate catch phrase goes.  Tired of waiting for a solution to arise, people simply find band-aid solutions. Those more fortunate have hung their tanks on the outside of the building giving it a multi-colored make-over. Others, the less lucky, fill the space inside their apartments with water tanks. So many tanks filled to make up for the delayed arrival of the water have upped the danger of leaks and the risk of flood, a flood like hers.

After that horrible incident with the neighbors, she has now made it a part of her early-morning routine to verify that the water valves are closed and everything electrical in her kitchen is turned off. And that is what she does now, and one more time, in the warm morning, she leaves her apartment.