Tuesday, March 13, 2007
I now have the happy and rare prospect of fourteen days of paid vacation – fourteen days during which I have no obligations, no pressures, no imperative burdens to carry around. I can let life unfold in its own sweet way and time. The hours will arrive like ships loaded with prized goods just for me, and I don’t even have to do the unloading. For the next two weeks, I can serenely sit on the dock of life and see what shows up. In the first sentence, I used the word “rare” because, in the big picture of the human race, such a vacation is extremely rare. The great majority of my fellow humans don’t ever get a vacation, not even for one one day or one hour. I don’t imagine the people in Darfur ever get a chance to put their feet up and peacefully follow the flight of a bird. Nor do I think the billions of hungry people across the globe ever find themselves with a free day in which to sit back and see what joys the world brings them. Most people on earth, by far, spend all their waking hours in nonstop labor, looking to simply survive the next few hours. A vacation like I’m enjoying would be an astonishing miracle to them. They would believe the gates of paradise had suddenly opened. I write this not so I will feel guilty about having fourteen days of freedom, but simply so I can keep in mind the simple truth of the way things are. While I’m lolling about in the park, the people in Darfur will be bending under disheartening burdens. When I’m reading George Eliot by soft lamplight, poor people the world over will be wondering why their lives are so dark day after day after day.