Monday, May 9, 2011

A Cure for the Common Apathy

It feels a little wrong to be focused on what’s happening inside my body, at a time when there's so much going on outside of it. Between the political and geological forces rocking the world these past few months, it seems as if the globe is going through some serious cosmic transformation. (Indeed, travel writer Jan Morris agrees, and is certain that we’re about to be visited by aliens. She gets around, so if anyone would know, it would probably be her.)
In case you’ve been asleep, I’m referencing things like: 
  • Cataclysmic tsunamis (and the nuclear meltdowns, environmental and human consequences that follow them)
  •  Apocalyptic floods and tornados (and accompanying human suffering they cause)
  • Democratic uprisings (and human rights abuses by despotic political regimes in reaction to them)
  •  Dead notorious terrorists (and terrorists that remain alive and very angry as a result)
  •  The dissolution of collective bargaining rights (and the ballooning corporatocracy ahead)
  •  Donald Trump (or, more specifically, the shallow, racist, self-interested masses that think he’s real neat)
  •   ...Etc.
I recognize that that at this particular moment, when I’m 10+ months pregnant and about to give birth at any second, I have a legitimate excuse for not being deeply engaged in current affairs, even if they are super-important. Instead, it’s normal that I would be distracted by the:

  • Aches (carpel tunnel syndrome is apparently fairly common in late pregnancy. Who knew?);
  • Pains (the regular sort that come with trying to function normally with a bowling ball inside of one’s abdomen);
  • Insomnia (bladder = extremely squished);
  • Fascination (ok, did I mention that I'm actually growing a *human* inside me? That is weird);
  • Angst (no explanation necessary), and yes, buried somewhere deep in my psyche... 
  • Excitement (again, no explanation necessary)
... that are often associated with pregnancy.

But even with my current focus on what's happening in my own body, I can’t help but want to be more engaged in what’s happening in the wider world. 

I would be lying to say that my lack of engagement is only a result of 10+ months pregnant. In reality, I’ve been predominantly complacent/apathetic since my rabblerousing  early-mid-20s days. Sure, I read the news. I vote. I furrow my brow. I occasionally forward articles to my friends. I txt $10 to the Red Cross. But mostly, I stand by and complain about how bad/scary/idiotic things are, and hope that people with more time on their hands will deal with them very soon.

Laundry: A common
distraction from saving the world
And would it be wrong for me to suggest that you may be leaving things to those people, too?  After all, you and I are busy, right? We’ve got laundry to do. Sick kids to tend to. Dinner to make. Dogs to walk. Reports to write. Paperwork to file. Houses to clean. Family members to argue with. Parties to plan. Cars to take to the shop. We're waiting to get our stuff done. We’re waiting for the sun to come out. We're waiting for tomorrow, next week. 

And yet, we have stakes in the outcomes of today’s big events as much as anyone, don’t we? Do we really have less free time than the people who are out there rallying troops, risking their lives, rebuilding cities, helping those in need, writing editorials, and storming their capitals? Don't those people have bills to pay and appliances to fix and kids and jobs and other responsibilities, too? Why do we get to sit by and let them do the work? What makes us so special?

I hate to break it to you, but we are not special. We’re just paralyzed by the mundane, mesmerized by the mildly entertaining, and daunted by the prospect of inconvenience. And that is what keeps us tethered to our couches, passive observers of right now.

You might argue that I’m experiencing a hormonally-induced frenzy, and you might be right.

But I suspect that my sudden burst of inspiration/frustration could actually be a rational response to the realization that I'm about to bring another person into a place that needs some serious attention. That is, this thing going on inside me might actually be the spark I’ve needed to become part of the things going on outside.

I’m not committing to moving mountains after I deliver the baby in the next few days, but I am declaring my intention to get off the couch. And to get ready to fight the aliens when they arrive. 

P.S. For those who have been waiting on the edge of your seats since my last post, the sock never showed up. It's one of the great mysteries of the world.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome post Vanessa! I hope that it galvanizes more people into action as well! Collectively, what we do together, can make a HUGE difference! Good luck with your special delivery (hopefully soon!)!! xoxo from the UK