Today the New Year Told Me to Wake Up

Whenever anyone approaches me with lamentations over the inability to write his or her essay, I typically suggest writing whatever comes to mind. Like turning on the tap just to get the water flowing, until the dirt disappears and gives way to the desired clear water. But I’ve been less inclined to put pen to paper of late. I look back on field notes only to find sparse and tired scribbles. Much has happened in the past few months, and nothing has happened, my mental and physical exhaustion as proof of this (in)activity. Where is the passion, the will, the focus, and the self-discipline to stave off fatigue at the end of the day so that I may record my reflections earnestly in so many words?

Meanwhile the thinking never stops, and it finds its way in my photos, my daydreams, my nightmares, and in the confines of my mind. The more photographs I take, the less I write. Perhaps words just seem inadequate. Sometimes I wonder if the occupation academic endeavor of the anthropologist, absorbed as s/he is in multiple communities crossing national, ethnic, gender, tribal, age boundaries, tied up in various networks and interpersonal relationships, is one of the most isolating fields out there. And in my head, John Denver’s Looking for Space plays quietly.

Quiet moments are never silent, and rest never quite that rejuvenating.

Oh, I just did it! The water may be murky, but at least it’s flowing, and at least I’m awake this year.

music: paul simon – quiet

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