A while back I was sitting in my living room one morning stealing some time for myself to read and write and this is what came out on the page.

Morning sun bounces around the clumps of leaves on a bougenvilla vine and through my window. Sun and shade pattern themselves on my journal page. I trace the splotches of black and white, thinking I will paint the pattern and sell it to an art gallery for lots of money.

Instead, I read my magazine.

A young woman in Zimbabwe, it reports, has been raped daily. Now pregnant with the child of an unknown one of her tormentors, she looks out at me from the page, starving, clinging to survival in a war torn country.

I turn the page – before I get to her name.

Next page. An ad for a $2000 handbag perched on the arm of a young woman, an ad placed next to an article reviewing the best spas for facials and botox.

I turn the page – before I get to the name of the woman extolling the facial she just got.

The juxtaposition gums up my mind. I feel, well, ashamed.

Ashamed at my relief that I am not the woman in Zimbabwe.

Ashamed at my regret that I cannot afford the handbag and the botox.

Ashamed that I cannot seem to be content with my own spot on the range of human experience. One so far removed from the woman in Zimbabwe and only a few spots removed from the woman with the handbag or the facial.

Ashamed that I cannot bring myself to know either of their names – for fear that bringing the contradiction so close may cause my mind’s wires to cross and self-combust.


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