What started as an awareness raising and ethnographic styled walk through Sierra Leone, this site now details the encounters of a not so academic academic who spends more time occupying Wall Street and squats than a university...

Monday, November 12, 2012

Individualizing Desperation

It is amazing how the human psyche works.  I am continually working and acting in cooperative and communal ways.  The work I do, the volunteer stuff, my Africa project, academically and intellectually, everything is team focused, egalitarian, and about working together.  But it is amazing how when times are tough and a longstanding at that, that your body and mind enter into a survival mode that is tough to work through sometimes.

My situation is well chronicled here on this website.  Lots of education and experience, a keen analytical capacity, hard working, whatever.. but no professional place to use it right now.  It is tough.  But beyond just the remorse of not being in the place I'd like to be, there is a desperation that comes with poverty and the basic human struggles for food and shelter.  What I'm referring to is a selfishness that comes about.  A selfishness that would drive the starving to snatch food out of a child's hand, or knock an old lady down to get to a loaf of bread.  Now obviously I am not there, and would like to think I could always overcome something like this.  But I can feel and see subtle moments of it seeping into my conscious awareness and attacking my subconscious on many levels.  The instinctive self medicating that so many of us do when we are hurting such as rushing to "comfort foods" (I ate a bunch of doughnuts yesterday, which I have no business eating with my allergies), or to liquor, or risky things, sports.  Things that make us feel rebellious  alive, viral, whatever.  We all do this stuff at some point.  Act out in individualistic ways that inject enzymes, adrenaline and such, into our world and brains that make us feel "better", if even for a moment.

What I am talking about right now though is an overlooking of others and even perhaps sometimes basic protocols of human interaction and attention based on immediate feelings of personal desperation.  Not taking the time to say thank you, somehow feeling it is implied, not responding to a call or text, not paying attention to someone else's efforts to help you with or care of their ideas and works in respect to what you are so desperately trying to do.  I am finding myself doing these things.  Just so desperately focused on trying to change my situation that I am pushing myself internally, working to market myself, survive myself, that I lose track of those surrounding me and the attention they deserve.

I have been speaking in "we" terms for years, and have really struggled focusing on the proverbial "I" - marketing myself.  But that is where I have to be right now.  My resume needs to make me sound like King Kong, my writing projects need to sound like I am the smartest thing ever, my PhD prospectus like I thought of all this shit myself.  At times I lose track of the care for others that has been the cornerstone of my adult existence   I've rescinded into home-life more and more, and am not paying attention to others in the way I am accustomed to.  Not saying thank you, not working with someone in a way that expresses a team effort....  sad.  I know I am better than this.  I know I will be back there some day.  But I am worried that some of these situations and ways of life may become bad habits.  Since I left Europe I have gone in the wrong direction.  I've been training myself in desperation ever since I got back to this country over three years ago.  I definitely don't like these desperation and individualistic habits I'm picking up here.  But what can you do?  I just want to get back to being stable - if such a thing ever existed.  

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