Questioning Privilege

Once in a while I am forced to accept that one of my superpowers is that of creating comfortable spaces for people to be. To laugh, cry, vent and/or just pour their hearts out. Of course I do consider this a privilege bestowed on me.

However, there are days when this privilege weighs on me. This happens on days when all I have to offer the world is a strong exterior to shield my ever soft interior. Officially these are the days, which the best decision to make would be to stay in bed, and if I really must be optimist, hope to cry into my company a loved one to just hold me.

Recently I had one such day. Against all odds I got out of bed and went to work, where later in the day I also had to avail my superpowers. I felt like crap because I had to acknowledge there was a reason for not staying in bed, but also because I didn’t feel entitled to the sombre feelings that made it difficult to get out of bed.

In part, because of the conversation I had while availing my superpowers, I felt exactly how I felt when my mother was in hospital and I was called to question my love for her. I saw no problems with her being in a public hospital, despite its poor reputation of care. One of the reasons was that I trusted with all my being that she will have the best care—given she was part of the health sector and also a health professional in the very hospital in question. So unabashedly, I held on to that trust despite everything else and in full knowledge that some other families had no such trust. For me, it was the latter that was more problematic to my being. It really was battling with privilege at a whole new level: privilege only by extreme comparison.

In what world should one have to feel comfortable by the idea that their own loved one will receive the best care on the basis of who they are? Is this really a fair and a just world?

The above questions asked from a vantage point of privilege can be tormenting. More so, on the dark days when one shouldn’t be dealing with the complexities of life. And it is simply not kosher to ask: do I, as a being, have the right to want to feel, just for a day, vulnerable? That is, suspend the long term view on life and simply focus on the short term needs that make me human…why does a sense of privilege make this a tall order to ask?

Hopefully, one day I will have the answers to my questions. Today, I shall simply take comfort in knowing that my ability to question privilege may just be what I need to live a properly examined life, where each day the battle becomes one of being while also letting others to be.

Journey, Lessons and Reflection

Last night, like I have done many times before, I sat in solitude to reflect and take stock of my life and my journey thus far. I cried, laughed and sighed in absolute despair as I attempted to answer the question: Am I any closer to becoming the Mathe I truly want to be?

I acknowledged with gratitude how far I have come to where I am today. Then, I went on to ask myself the question: how does one truly measure the proverbial journey of a “thousand miles”? Is it by the distance travelled or the distance to be travelled?

I am not sure if there are simple answers but at the same time I wanted to know what emotion was legitimate for me to feel. Sadly, I am not very close to where I want to be.

I want to be at a place of contentment filled with inner and outer peace even when the hand dealt to me is less than ideal. A place where material possessions, money, fear etc play minimal or no role at all in making decisions! A place which in few words affords me the “arrogance of choice” i.e. choice that is driven by my priorities and truth about this journey called life.

Any lessons learnt from the journey travelled thus far?

Arrived or not to where I want to be, it is certainly important to reflect on the lessons learnt. While it is fair to say, I have had many lessons from different varying sources, I have learnt two very valuable lessons from attending “mekete”- ceremonial festivities. I have learnt:

  1. It takes hard work and perseverance to get to the ‘feeding stage of the masses’. One my wake up early to see to it that the cooking fire is burning, but there are no guarantees that all will go well. One may be faced with the task to tell off those acting as obstacles to get out of the way or get in line. One may also have to take shit from others but instead of being humiliated by it choose to take it as a humbling act.
  2. How to recognise and appreciate what privilege means. It is privilege if one can have a single person come to offer assistance of any kind. It is also privilege if uninvited guests can come and simply join in with the festivities, be it there are about celebrating a life that has passed on or a union of a new life to be. In a nutshell, privilege is having at least one person walk with you for the entire or part of the journey.

With lessons learnt thus far, I hope as I forge forward to where I want to be, I have the strength and courage to hold on to my faith, trusting that He and only He who knows the desires of our hearts will help me to my destination. I hope also that I may continue to remember words of wisdom from those who privilege me by walking this beautiful journey with me. I am truly grateful for all the words of kindness, support and encouragement I have received. Words such as as this from Carla Tsampiras: “…  remember that shit and rubbish can also make good compost, especially if balanced with nurturing rain and the warm sunlight of those who do believe in you“!