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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

ready or not

Each time I meet with a client, it grabs a part of me. So much so that I worry I will have nothing left when I leave this job. This morning I met with a man who has struggled with drug addiction but wants so much to better his life. I had to bear down to keep the tears from coming. I don't know why it moves me so much.
Maybe I'm tired.
Or maybe I feel his struggle and see his pain and sense how much he needs help and wonder if at all I can give him that. And I cry for his past and his sense of rootlessness and the emptiness he must feel. I feel the void that he must leave in his children's life and how much that pain must weigh on him at times. He lives in a shelter. Shelter life is like a warzone. I don't speak from experience, only from the stories I hear. People in them just want to get out of them but there don't seem to be any clear paths.
In addition, for those that have felony records they are met by a constant barrage of stop signs and dead ends. Lacking little support, they resign to a sense of worthlessness and despair. A hell that very few have the resiliency to emerge from.
I want so much to help him, our office to assist him but I know the limits of what I can do and I wonder what will the others that are on his path contribute to his movement forward. Every life has worth, even if the one living it realizes that very late in life. How can we contribute to the success and growth of all the people I encounter.
In a way I try to stay detached from my emotions, they only serve to do me harm. I tend to get so passionate and absorbed and face only resistance if I refuse to take things as they are. But that way seems like a death. Sometimes you have to get angry and be upset and cry and feel the pain that others feel. Moving through this world unscathed by its atrocities only perpetuates them. I sat there as he poured himself out to me, so unabashed at what he might lose by being so vulnerable. And I felt him and in my naivety responded that I understood, but I don't, I don't have any clue.

Listening to Obama last night, I had this renewed sense of hope at what our government and country can do to bring opportunities to those that sit at the periphery of our existence, and now I feel that, although a little less. Maybe now with a little bit more grounding in the reality of the many lives that get overlooked and under appreciated. I feel it is my duty in some way to contribute to a change. Even if I only begin the ripple, I can't leave this world without contributing to the end of what suffering that I see. But I don't know what the best way is. I can see the ways more effective government structures could bring broader changes for all but inevitably people fall through the cracks of policies, even the best ones. It is then up to all of us, or for those that feel the sense of responsibility, to encourage individuals, to make a way for them. I just know that we can.

Make a difference
Use this degree which you
have earned to increase
virtue in your world

your people, all people
are hoping that you are
the ones to do so

the order is large
the need immense
but you can take heart
for you know that you

have already shown courage
and keep in mind
one person, with good purpose
can, constitute the majority
since life is our most precious gift
and since it is given to us to live but once
let us so live that we will not regret
years of uselessness and inertia
you will be surprised that these years of
sleepless nights and months of uneasy
days will be rolled into
and altering event called the
'good old days.' and you will not
be able to visit them even with an invitation
since that is so you must face your presence
you are prepared
go out and transform your world

Maya Angelou "Letter to my Daughter"

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