Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Spider and the Broom

It's been seven months since I've written and there are a lot of confused, joyful, stressful, perfect moments in that gap. For awhile I was busy adapting to being back in the US.  It takes a long time; maybe more so for me because a close family member passed away right before I came back. The process feels more complete now as I write up my Master's project -- every day the maps and data seem to chisel some new splinter of memory off into my new (old) life.

When my mind wanders to my experience in Guatemala, I think of sweeping the dusty corners of my house in my last days in town. Grandma had just passed away, and sweeping was a welcome respite from thinking.  There was one stairwell corner that had been particularly neglected, and in my sweep of the house I battered it hastily, sending a spider skittering out of her web and into a hole in the corner.

I remembered her then; that spider had lived there for nearly a year. In that moment my power to upend an entire existence with a thoughtless broom-sweep seemed really profound. I bore no malicious intention -- I had just come along doing what I thought I needed to do.

It was clear in that moment that we share more with the spider than I thought. Some days will be ours to tend our webs in peace, with the flies cursing us. Some days will be ours to scurry from the sweeper, cursing the broom, while the flies move on in peace. As we go about our business, we're all vulnerable to a variety of forces, and any appearance to the contrary is a question of scale and magnitude. While scale and magnitude are highly significant, I think a lot of the injustice in the world is born of denial of the simple reality that we are all vulnerable.

Some day I would like come back to this blog and fill in the substantial holes left here by my experience. I think in some ways I didn't do much justice to the general panorama of Peace Corps, or development, or especially the stories of the people I met in the highlands of Guatemala. For now I'll leave it at that, though: the spider and the broom.

1 comment:

  1. Good morning how are you?

    My name is Emilio, I am a Spanish boy and I live in a town near to Madrid. I am a very interested person in knowing things so different as the culture, the way of life of the inhabitants of our planet, the fauna, the flora, and the landscapes of all the countries of the world etc. in summary, I am a person that enjoys traveling, learning and respecting people's diversity from all over the world.

    I would love to travel and meet in person all the aspects above mentioned, but unfortunately as this is very expensive and my purchasing power is quite small, so I devised a way to travel with the imagination in every corner of our planet. A few years ago I started a collection of used stamps because trough them, you can see pictures about fauna, flora, monuments, landscapes etc. from all the countries. As every day is more and more difficult to get stamps, some years ago I started a new collection in order to get traditional letters addressed to me in which my goal was to get at least 1 letter from each country in the world. This modest goal is feasible to reach in the most part of countries, but unfortunately it’s impossible to achieve in other various territories for several reasons, either because they are countries at war, either because they are countries with extreme poverty or because for whatever reason the postal system is not functioning properly.

    For all this I would ask you one small favor:
    Would you be so kind as to send me a letter by traditional mail from Guatemala? I understand perfectly that you think that your blog is not the appropriate place to ask this, and even, is very probably that you ignore my letter, but I would call your attention to the difficulty involved in getting a letter from that country, and also I don’t know anyone neither where to write in Guatemala in order to increase my collection. a letter for me is like a little souvenir, like if I have had visited that territory with my imagination and at same time, the arrival of the letters from a country is a sign of peace and normality and an original way to promote a country in the world. My postal address is the following one:

    Emilio Fernandez Esteban
    Avenida Juan de la Cierva, 44
    28902 Getafe (Madrid)

    If you wish, you can visit my blog where you can see the pictures of all the letters that I have received from whole World.

    Finally I would like to thank the attention given to this letter, and whether you can help me or not, I send my best wishes for peace, health and happiness for you, your family and all your dear beings.

    Yours Sincerely

    Emilio Fernandez