A friend of mine is drawn for some incredible, mysterious, complicated reason to go to Afghanistan. She is a she, what’s more. I don’t know…seems like a rough place for anyone, but a woman in particular. That place is hard (and by “hard” I mean all the meanings of the word: rocky and mountainous, dry and mud-cracked, as well as difficult and challenging) and it is violent, since they usually go hand in hand. And it’s violently hard for women, especially fancy American women who go around with their hair and faces showing, opening their mouths to say what they mean.
She is drawn to go, she says, to see if she can. To test herself. Her values. To find out what is really important to her. And she wants to be of service. She can go there and help the local people, who are eating dirt, by the way, because things are so messed up over there. She grew up on a farm, you see, and did 4-H, so she can be of use. She can help them figure out how to grow crops out of the dusty mountains. How to raise livestock in the crevices, and arrange for delivery of sets and rudimentary equipment and supplies. Help the people unravel the giant twine ball they have for a government and try to help them stop eating dirt. Or bugs, or whatever people eat when they are really poor with no other options.
She will live in a concrete building, which will be shared with a bunch of other people, and have uncertain opportunities to bathe. She will explain things like farm tools and basics of animal husbandry, and why Americans are there to help when they made a lot of what’s going on there possible in the first place. She will be quite hot, and perhaps very cold. And the food will suck, every single day for 400 of them. She will get frustrated with all the stuff that just doesn’t work over there, especially because that stuff doesn’t even rank as an afterthought here.
But still she is drawn. Or I should say, because of this she is drawn. Lured by the thought of being challenged. Having to deal with discomfort, with no respite other than a calm mind can provide. Beckoned by the strange, the unknown, the adventure of BEing someplace completely devoid of one’s identity. Naked again and learning. And humbled by people who live this way every single day their whole lives, and she is there to help them.
What’s your Afghanistan?
For Ann, with love and admiration.