Monday, December 19, 2011

the first twitch of the itch

Yesterday I was catching up on the news, as I tend to do over the weekends - how people stay on top of the news everyday is beyond me! I need to schedule time on the weekends to catch up.

Anyway, being December, there were a lot... A LOT... of "year in review" kinds of articles out there. Here is how I read them:

One year anniversary of Arab Spring... already? It's been a year? I was there for part of that.
A new country was born this year... I was sitting around with the Northern Sudanese fretting in resignation about the referendum.
Famine in Somalia... yeah, this has been intense indeed for my colleagues.
Flooding in Thailand... I wonder if I'd be there today if I were still in the Asia programme.
Syria's ongoing struggle beginning to be dubbed a 'civil war'... Oh how I wish I could have seen my friends in Syria one last time before going back wasn't an option anymore.
End of the war in Iraq... a million memories of my work with Iraqi refugees flooded back to me.

And so on and so forth.

As I read, it slowly dawned on me that world events will likely cease to be as personally relevant to me as I begin to settle into my more geographically defined life. My friendships with Egyptians, Timorese, Sudanese, and Syrians will always be there, but they will fade a little bit in my consciousness. I won't read the news with as much personal investment as I have for the last several years.

And so I felt the first twitch of the itch. I don't want to give that up. Yes, I do want to give up the instability, rootlessness and emotional fall-out. But I don't want to give up the sense that I am somehow connected, albeit in a distant manner, from the challenges facing humankind around the world. Reading the news and receiving the odd email from a friend out there isn't going to feel as intimate to me as being there myself. I'm escaping and they can't escape.

I know it's different on too many levels to compare, and I think my reaction is part-guilt, part-adventurer and only part-solidarity. For all three of these motivations, there's something very tantalising about re-subjecting myself to the whims of a major international relief agency. I'm not going to do it, but I've got to brace myself against the itch which is unlikely to calm over the course of the coming months.

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