Car ornament, Ghor, 2007
21 September is International Peace Day. The United Nations has focused it's activities this year on Afghanistan. Shit - I just heard an enormous explosion. Perfect. It's the day of peace and I was about to write a post about all about peace and how it is not just a pretty word, how it is the result of a whole lot of hard work and the resolution of conflicts. About how the women who told us on Sunday that they would kill anyone who tried to take their land from them are not blood thirsty warriors but mothers and wives who know that without the land they all die anyway so they might as well fight for it. I had all sorts of thoughts about peace, development, security and human rights today. Instead I hear an enormous explosion.
While on the subject of peace, and my view that it cannot be expected to flower until fundamental human rights are respected and conflicts are resolved. Over at Laila's blog she posted this week about new restrictions placed on civilians in the Gaza Strip. Read it and weep. The PR term for these restrictions is apparently "civilian levers". Civilian levers? How can they say this stuff with a straight face?
For some reason the spin has always been what makes me the maddest. If you are going to cut off the water, fuel, food and electricity supply to men, women and children who are trying to live a life of some minimum quality under unbearable circumstances then at least have the balls to call a spade a spade. These are not "civilian levers" this is a classic, text book example of collective punishment, and there is a reason it is prohibited under the Geneva Conventions. Maybe we should suggest that someone sits down and watchs "The Pianist" to remind themselves of where, when, how and why the Geneva Conventions were developed.
Aside from rants, I'm so full of thoughts and ideas and inspiration today. I can't quite get it all into order in my head to share it here. So this may be a little disjointed.
The lessons in letting go continue. This past two weeks the key theme has been letting go of "unrelenting standards". It's a phrase I picked up on a pop-psychology magazine and I can't get it out of my head. I guess it spoke to me. Little by little and with many relapses I am learning to let go of standards that don't help me, standards that used to hold me back by telling me that everything I did should be done well.
This week I read Keri Smith's post about her dust bunnies and smiled in recognition. It is so good that as well as linking I'm going to go right ahead and quote her here.
my house is never as clean as I would like, but I much prefer to spend time writing reading and making things than cleaning. i keep it at a point which it doesn't depress me, tidy but a bit dusty.
these are truths that a few years ago I would not wanted to have anyone know about. I would try and make people think that everything was pretty and funky and well functioning all the time. I am perfect and you should want my life.
at some point i became extremely wary and suspicious of the notion that people teach in self-help books that we should all aspire to a fully self-actualized high functioning life. this life and all it's messiness is what makes life interesting and intensely creative. i think often that's how creativity arises, in having to deal with things in the moment. the fact that some plans you have don't work out the way you wanted or "planned" forces you into a new way of seeing and operating.
in need of fixing is a perfectly good place to be. at times this is exactly who I am. sometimes life is uncomfortable and I no longer feel the urge to run from that. most importantly i no longer feel the need to live up to someone else's ideal. i can breathe deeper because I am not spending any energy hiding the truth from people.
because everyone else is messy too and has dust bunnies in the corners of their rooms.
some just hide it better than others.
Amen, Keri. My new friend Swirly was full of the same brand of goodness and wisdom this week.
It seems my stranglehold on my own life, demanding only the very best at all times, may have taken a little too long to overcome under normal circumstances so I led myself to Afghanistan. Here, I couldn't pick one day when I measure up to the standards I once thought were inviolable.
I too now miss deadlines, and hand over papers that I once would have never allowed to see the light of day, I drop balls and fail over and over again and - lo and behold - through it all I am still making a positive difference. I am still doing a good job.
I miss yoga sessions and haven't been for a run in three months, I eat what I can get which is sometimes the kind of food I would never have allowed past my lips in a past life. Yet, my health is good, my body has not collapsed or transformed into an unrecognisable blob. I still think that striving for excellence is great, that taking care of my body and meeting my committments to others are important. But in learning to survive here I've learned that nothing is more important than letting go a little bit. Letting go of my unrelenting standards and of my expectations of myself and others.
This week I'm also feeling closer and closer to realising my own power to make my dreams come true. Both Laini and Denise wrote about dreams this week, and I realised that I still have dreams that haven't yet had their day in the sun. I've never really lost my belief that, if I put my mind to something I can make it happen. As a little girl I dreamed of working for the United Nations, travelling to remote and troubled places and fighting for justice. A big dream for a farmer's daughter from small town New Zealand. Yet, here I am. I have more dreams, and now it is time to let some of them out to play. I'm pretty excited about that.