Saturday, January 14, 2006

Living in the Present

Saturday morning I walked to the cultural center to meet Luli and Besim for a seminar with youth regarding advocacy, and how to solve Mitrovica's myriad of problems. As I tend to dwell (obsess) on the past, or focus on plans for my amazing future, I fear I never live fully in the present. I was just resolving to appreciate the present moment, noting how cold my hands were inside my gloves, when I saw a man bending over a figure prostrate on the ground. I picked up my pace to help, and saw he was trying to lift an elderly woman to her feet. She had slipped on the ice and fallen face first into a puddle of icy water.

Another young man ran to help and took her arm from me. A few other men gathered, one was apparently trying to call the police to find help for the woman. She was moaning and crying. I held a tissue to her nose to stop the blood that covered most of her face. She held my hand and blew her nose, a mixture of mucus and blood. In between her crying she repeated “Falemenderit,” (thank you).

We were outside a small market, and lowered the woman down to sit on an overturned plastic box. I held her hand and continued to hold tissue to her nose. Her eyes above her bloodied nose were full of fear. I felt so helpless, not being able to reassure her in her own language. In a few minutes a car arrived and two of the men formed a human chair and picked her up. I watched as they squeezed her into the back seat. The driver looked at me and asked “Mater?” I shook my head and said “Jo.”

Unsure if I should ride with her, unable to communicate or ask any questions, I shut the door, leaving her with a handful of bloody tissues, her blood on my hands.

As I walked away, I realized how I was completely in the present moment the entire time I was with that woman. The immediacy of a crisis is not how I had planned to appreciate the present moment, but it worked. I feel for the poor woman who the universe used to offer me the gift of the present.

As I debate whether to cut my time from 5 months to 3, based on putting pressure on myself to interview and write more, as well as the lack of funds to stay the extra two months, I feel frustration, and fear depression and perfectionism will overwhelm me again. Looking through my pictures of my time here, I know when I get back to the States I will miss this place and the people, and forget all the hard times.
Again! Living in the past and the future. What is the gift of the present today? I met more Serbs on the north side and had interesting conversations, ate the best burger in the world back on the south side. The owner of the café remembered me as the girl who wants the burger “pa buk” (without bread). While I waited, I sat with a macchiato (on the house), by myself in a café writing in my journal. While this is a common if not daily event for me in the States, I stand out in a culture where the café is the main stage for socialization. After I walked home, my “to-go” burger warming my hands, I played with Skippy in the yard. Energized from play, I broke the ice off of the outdoor faucet. Coming inside, I cleaned up for my host Maria’s homecoming from a month in the states and prepared her room so she can fall into bed. It was – IS a good day.


Isaac said...

Great post…I feel like I was there…with rubber gloves on of course.

What a great story…that woman and those around the scene saw someone “loving their neighbor”…a testimony that goes beyond words…

Keep up the good work…and keep thinking about staying as long as you can…you won’t regret it! And…selfishly, it would mean our trips should overlap once again.

I was thinking you could even pick me up at the airport…giving you the opportunity for some revenge! I find taking the dirt road to Peja to be a safer and much more scenic route…

Christi said...

Rebecca, you and I don't know each other, but we share a friend - JJ. I clicked from his blog and read your "living in the present" post. Thank you for writing it and sharing your thoughts/feelings.

Living in the present/past/future is something I have been thinking on quite a bit lately. I don't have all my thoughts gelled yet, but appreciated finding some direction in your post.

Thank you!