This year, I have been so fortunate as to hear Anna Maria Tremonti and Stephen Puddicombe. I don't know exactly what I'm going to do out of school - whether it will be law or social work or international aid - but I will find a way to change people's worlds.
I will never be able to do what Puddicombe does but the feeling that I felt last night was something I never want to forget. I was devastated about what he spoke about, overjoyed that I'm safe and content and unbelievably proud of the glimmer of hope in humanity when men and women stepped up and helped their fellow person.
Okay, so this may be a bit rambling so I'll back up. As I write this, getting ready for bed, finally slowing down, I realize two things: I'm in tears and my jaw hurts from clenching it so much.
The keynote speaker last night was Stephen Puddicombe, an amazing man who has a resume a mile long and honestly, if I tried to describe him, I'd fail. He looks like a clean-cut, handsome person, kind of plan faced, average build - but striking eyes.
He paces...constantly moves. His animations are sometimes soothing and sometimes, jarring. They said what he was going to talk about before he stared speaking. His voice is that of a radio reporters - soothing, calming - and yet, was so agitated and full of grief sometimes. I don't even know how to begin describing it except that his voice is a paintbrush in the hands of a master. He spoke and the air formed different colours and everyone saw what he was seeing. We were looking through his eyes.
So as I sit here, in my comfortable room with the Internet, a mug of tea in front of me and a cell phone going off, my brain is slowly shutting down for the night but that little voice, the one I always listen to says 'write because otherwise, you won't stop crying'...so I'm writing.
I wasn't overly uncomfortable last night but I was angry. I was angry that I waited so long to do my degree. I was angry that the most I've protested over is quiet study space or a stupid student government. I was angry that I haven't changed the world - and as immature as that sounds, I'm still angry. I'm angry that we complain about the tax costs of medicare - and children die over an insect bite...
The emotion that I'm feeling isn't 'real' anger - it's not a simmering rage but a "what can I do?" Right now, I can write. Tomorrow, I can learn more about these issues. The day after, I can continue learning and start to figure out how I can make my university degree work to stop being angry.
Hearing about gang rape in the Congo shook me. He says "I can't imagine"...I say, "I don't want too"...I don't want to try to imagine something that horrible - I want to pretend it doesn't exist, sweep it away, pretend it doesn't happen.
I've always believed that education is what will change society - and this is partly why. Because as much of a firm believer in social activism as I am, I wanted to pretend the world was different than it was. I was happier with fiction than believing the real world. And now I can't and I think, after I stop crying - I'll be better for it. Welcome to education - it makes you aware of your own stupidity and the fiction you've created to make your life that much better.
I'm not describing his stories because it seems like I'm glorifying it and I can't do it justice. It doesn't feel right. Google his stories, Google the people he talks about, listen to every podcast you can...just learn about it. It's not fun, it's not a good time...last night is the first time I ever said "I need a drink"...Not "I want", "I'd like" but "I need"...
Last night, I was perfectly fine drinking myself into a happy place and then keeping that healthy level of alcohol in my system for the night.
Tonight, I'm sober and the reality is, I'm so glad I didn't see the pictures that were graphic because I don't need to right now. Maybe I need to look into international law and international human rights a little longer while I'm doing a social work degree.
I don't know how to end this on a positive note except for saying this - thank you. I might not have looked at the pictures, but I got the message.