”It is in times of great cultural clashes when world views collide and old vested beliefs are challenged by new perceptions that people actually realise what their own heritage encompass”
I’ve been touched. Touched in that undeniably persistent breath-taking kind of way that tends to leave you raw and open and grasping for something equally intense and vulnerable.
Accompanied by something as innocent as lullabies I have just seen how ignorant a world that wants truly can be of one that needs. I come from an unfulfilled, greedy and self-absorbed world. I am a child of it, bred with the same ailments and deficiencies and lusts. I see that now. Things are not what I thought they were. They are simpler. Humans are simpler. I am simpler. And somehow it makes it easier to accept. So, this isn’t about being down on myself or anyone else. It’s about a play. A play called Hush little baby, performed by CampX in Copenhagen.
It sounds very cryptic, I know… and perhaps this – finding meaning and sense in impressions derived from a socio-dramatic play – is the modern equivalent of deciphering the babbling of some fume-intoxicated greek priestess on the top of some remote mountain…
… we hear what we want to hear and find what we want to find.
Or in other words, we make up our own answers.
Still, there is a part of me that wants to believe that every now and then we stumble on something we didn’t and couldn’t have expected or sought. Every so often our eyes are, I think, open and honest enough to not blatantly deceive us for the sake of comfort and convenience. And then we see. Really see.
What I saw was my own awkwardness when I was faced with people whose lives I couldn’t imagine myself living. I saw them and the wonder and sincerity they held within them and felt ashamed to find my own life so hard and unjust at times. I batted a big red balloon three times the size of my own head to an unseen stranger behind me in the audience all the while trying to keep my eyes on the girl on stage who’d stolen my heart. I couldn’t help but watch her. I couldn’t help but to feel for her and be attracted to what she represented. Yet I knew that in doing so I was belittling both who she was and what she does. She wasn’t looking for my pity – or for my guilty conscience. She was just… living her life as it urged her to… and without intending to in the process held a mirror up to my face, showing me the frown I’d been wearing for so long because I’d wanted … something different. Something more. Or better.
It was a play. It was pretence. Her broken English accent was fake and so was the way she came to brush up against my life…. But her story was real. Hers and the others’ with her. And too it was real when they all pretended to strive to be like me… like us… here in this part of the world… be like us and be nothing like us at the same time. From the outside it isn’t so hard to see what is so easily missed when you’re right in the middle of it every day. And it’s not so hard to see it for what it really is.
Did she pity me? I don’t want to think so. I want to hold her better than that… but I think part of her did. I could see it in her eyes when they caught mine, while she was asking if I wanted to help her by exploiting her. She didn’t quite phrase it like that… but it was implied. That is the reality of it. We both knew that.
How do you answer a question like that?
How do you justify helping someone because it helps yourself? It’s like that damn buy-a-goat concept that made “Christmas present of the year” the year before last. Good intentions for the wrong reasons… still, it helps. Right? So, it’s good…. Right?
How do you justify it when you know that in doing it you risk turning her into what you just realised you don’t like about yourself?
Do you say “no, I don’t want to help because you’re better off without… even if it doesn’t feel like it?”
Who am I to make such a judgment? Who am I to decide what is best for anyone else? Who am I to hold anyone too good or too pure or too precious to be soiled by my way of life? Or to deem the way I live unsuitable for others? Who am I to know better?
So, instead … do you say “yes, I will take advantage of the fact that I happen to be born in a more enabling, better equipped and more liberal place than you, so that I can have even more of it and you can have… more than you do. Even if it means that it will make you aspire to what I have… and I can see in your eyes that you in this moment know that what I have isn’t all that desirable but I think you will forget and get blinded just like I am”?
Is that a better answer?
No matter how much I searched within me for the right expression, the right look in my eyes and the right words to say I couldn’t find anything… save quiet humble gratitude and a sudden deep appreciation and fascination for a Philippino song with lyrics I don’t even come close to grasping.
“Hush little baby” is about those who have… lacking. And those who haven’t… giving. It’s about ego and desperation and sacrifice. It’s about the cost and consequence of aspiring and exploitation.
But most of all, it is about the human condition. About how when we are distant from ourselves, we are removed from everyone else around us as well… and that loneliness depreciates the value of everything we have.
Hush, little baby, don’t you cry…