The Search for Hope

I have sat down to write over the past six months countless times. I have sat down to write with agony, painfully writing words that surprise me with their bite. I have sat down to write with sadness, a sadness that eventually shifts my finger to the backspace button. I have sat down to write with brazen hope, a hope I can’t identify within myself anymore.

The accumulation of these efforts have resulted in sub-par writing I have been hesitant to release to the world. My usual writing has a glimmer to it. I’ve prided myself on writing about the atrocities of the world while expressing my hope in humanity simultaneously. Writing has been a dangerous labour for me these days as the hopefulness of my writing has all but disappeared.

Search for the word ‘travel’ online or mention it to your friends and you will be inundated with magical responses filled with shimmery new experiences naively categorized as simple wanderlust. After the endless new worlds and self-identities travel allowed me, my collection of experiences have broken open the seams of the backpack that accompanied me on my journey around the world to here.

The memories I had packed away are now scattered around my room. The memories of love, hope, generosity and kindness gleam in the sunlight while the memories of violence, death, starvation, apartheid, and war feed on the night. Time has become the weigh-scale for my accumulated memories and I never can tell what will seep out of my mind when I’m alone.

The truth is, I haven’t been able to write because the memories that come at night have all but erased the faith I have carried with me around the world. Coming home, surrounded by all the love I could, and have, ever wanted, I find myself fighting the world with a mixture of awe and bitter sadness.

Ever since I can remember, I have been a voracious reader. From a young age, I devoured books that told me of the pain of the world - beginning with a novel series based around a young girl’s plight under the Taliban in Afghanistan and moving towards memoirs of people who lived a life I thought I wanted - a life of truth seeking, of fighting for humanity, and trying to save lives.

Naively, in 2011, I began my own search for truth, following in the footsteps of the amazing men and women I had met in my books. This search brought me to over forty countries, most of them you would never find on a suggested travel list. I have watched riots in Islamabad, witnessed the velocity with which violence can rip apart society with poverty as it’s catalyst. I’ve seen a country where separate laws for different groups of people rip apart families and futures. I have seen militants defy all faith I had in humanity, slaughtering children and indoctrinating anyone along the way. I have seen good people do unthinkable things.

I’ve seen the way car bombs rip through a city’s serenity and a child’s sense of security. I have seen the way government can use unthinkable violence to promote it’s own skewed sense of morality and silence those who dissent. I have seen my own friends hold onto their ideas of humanity with the strongest clenched hands I’ve ever encountered. Coming home, I have seen an entire privileged society pay to watch a couple hours of these atrocities I know to be real in movie theatres for entertainment. I have seen an entire society turn a blind eye and I have seen our government easily breed hatred for an ‘other’ that I have fallen in love with.

These memories, these thoughts and these experiences make my mind a leaking faucet I don’t have the tools to fix. I am the embodiment of nerves on the brink. Sleepless nights, an unfocused mind and an anger with as much strength as any happiness I’ve ever encountered. A friend insists that the universe keeps giving you the same lesson over and over until you can prove that you have learned it - by this philosophy, I might be a bad learner.

Yet, here I am, despite myself, breathing fully. I am home. And being home, I am finally submitting to the the epiphany that this is happening, and will affect me for the rest of my life. My books and the heroes I met within them tell me to follow the atlas of my heart, despite how stained with the drops of water accumulated by time and memory it may be. But I know, I cannot move onto the next story until I tell this one - of a girl let down and disillusioned by the world - so I must tell this one. Call it a last act of desperate hope, that if I can be honest about the moments-in-between without obscuring them with insincerity, that the slate will clear and I may find my hope in the world again.

“The world needs more anger. The world often continues to allow evil because it isn't angry enough.”
― Bede Jarrett