I have been here about five full days, and I have adjusted well enough. I have learned how to fill my days adequately and reject the distractions of the internet and communication. I don’t even feel terribly close to Greg anymore; the umbilical cord has been weakened as if too little of the essence of life was being shared between entities. I’ve gotten used to his absence in a world so diametrically opposed to the one in which I am accustomed to seeing him; perhaps that is the reason. I don’t feel like doing my SAT work at all either; it seems so dull in comparison to the customary chaos and the drama of life here. Teaching the special-needs children is actually quite arduous; as they so clearly belong to a world separate from the present reality. Its frustrating how difficult it is for me to write lately, words used to come to me so naturally. Perhaps this is God’s punishment to me for my sin; or maybe Greg has simply hijacked my brain by clogging it with memories of him.
Every single moment is important, and so far I have been using my time well, although it can always be better. I am still struggling with how I can actually develop a permanent solution or lasting framework for the ills at hand. It is a difficult job and I am discouraged so easily. I feel trapped in my feelings of impotence and threatened by the “pantheon of heroes” that have come before me. I’ve been in a strange mood lately, easily irritable probably due to hormones. Hopefully this issue will resolve itself and I can return to my full mental and emotional capacity. I despise feeling impotent and incapable of translating my life experience into words and sentences with the force of an image. My inspiration has left me, and I am resentful. I am paralyzed by a fear of wasting time, yet paradoxically bent on either enjoying myself or wallowing. I think the best thing to do is pray about it, continue to read, and continue to write, letting the atmosphere reveal itself. I find the bathetic that continues to creep into my writing repugnant, and so the curse of repeated words. I am nothing besides my verbal prowess and my ability to correlate multifarious media; criticism on these counts is chilling.
Greg is enjoying his time with his cousin in Oklahoma. He really is such a boy, a young, naive, American boy, who is bound, inevitably to become a yet naive and tentative American man. The sincerity is there but it is so overshadowed by trepidation and the limitations of familiarity that I can only pause with fear and pity. It is not superiority that one feels, exactly, when exposed to an environment like this, but I hate to reduce the effervescent life around me to the narrow context of my life experience. I exist-like any person who has felt deeply the different worlds in which they have lived- in part as a product of the disparity between the two cultures.
Sometimes in order for one to deal with overwhelming misery or sadness one feels some kind of primal need to take refuge in superficiality in order to dull the commanding reality of pain. “The soul must be hollowed out and then filled, hollowed out and then filled.” I don’t know exactly why this is; maybe because superficiality is ubiquitous and it is relaxing to plunge again into the matter, the substance that makes up, and is found in, all the hollow world.
~ I worked with the special-needs children today. They are all differently handicapped but they are grouped together in the same room like a motley traveling circus. They are sweet children. I haven’t seen any tantrums so far or any crying so perhaps the members of this group are either carefree by nature or simply bottle up their frustration. The teachers are clearly devoted to the children, which is something by which I’m relieved.
There is a sort active “component” or edge to the gratitude experienced sometimes by people here; they feel compelled to return and give back. The children themselves are similar to all mentally deficient everywhere. There is that permanent childishness, that stubborn innocence that doesn’t seem to relinquish them from its grip as they continue to fumble with sentence fragments and proper punctuation. What has struck me so profoundly however are their eyes. Their eyes seem to be the only true outlet for expression, that enduring state of wonder from which they subsist in a world so disillusioned by the numinous. There is one boy with great big eyes and an expression that reminds me of Gavin’s, the full lips faintly parted in concentration. It catches me unawares at times when I am waiting for him to answer a question, and I can feel it transcend the caverns of my heart.
The hesitation, the restlessness, the yearning for affirmation that is present in so many of these children is present in so many of us, who have greater control over our faculties. Are these children like a foil for the character of others? Do they exist to reveal the nature of those who interact with them? Will someone, even one who is most strongly convinced of the immutability of the human dignity be able to treat these children with equal respect every single day without fail? In the general context of purpose; when one writes about one’s “purpose of life” and making an impact, what does it mean in the drama of their lives? Eugenicists of the past and even the present were intent on the perfection of the human race, even worshipping a distinct ideal. With the progress of science, human beings will carry on happily with their tiresome quest for the best, the most conventional and the most beautiful. I by no means wish to idealize or praise “mistakes” or an indifference to suffering or even escalating scientific progress as a whole. However, fallible humans must never exalt themselves so high as to believe what is starkly in contrast with their nature; namely, that those who are severely disabled are somehow “subhuman,” but this is a complicated thing to grasp.
Unconditional altruism is not always a perennial flower; there are some months during which it does not grow. And sometimes it is uprooted altogether. Not everybody has the time to meditate on the idiosyncrasies and logistics of individuality… The dirt-baked, weather-beaten farmers who walk with calloused feet to pick up their ill sons and daughters have no lofty notions of “purpose”…that is the luxury of the fittest.