Today I got rather distracted from various work for clients, including some of the nicer ones, because I got a letter from Uganda.
It was just an email, one in a long series of ‘travel letters’ from an old friend – a de facto ex-friend, but we still have some contact.
Anyway, she is a doctor, saving lives. HIV patients and others. She loves Africa. So she saves them mostly there.
But she is also living in her own tower. She posts pictures on Facebook and writes letters and never answers neither. It all seems to be there for everyone else to admire and be awed by, in some way. Or at the very least feel … something for that she needs. Like she wants to receive a form of attention she lacks, which is necessary – aside from the satisfaction of saving lives.
For example, all my bells go off when she writes something like: “Today I saw the most brutal things, but I will not send you pictures of it, not yet anyway.”
Really? Why don’t you put up or shut up then, I wonder? Why even mention it, then? Have you seen a corpse being chewed by rats in a makeshift hospital you visited? What? Do you need to unload that?
Or do you need help? Perhaps a contribution to the project you are supporting with your time and skills, so they can hire more doctors after you have gone home?
None of the above, it appears.
Apparently, she just wrote that – and then added a kaleidoscopic travel and work description of the cruel and the beautiful Rest that she also witnessed and took part in that day.
So that was just another way of calling attention to herself, and then jumping 10 feet backwards because we are not allowed to share further, or act on, that issue – that “brutal thing” – that so moved her. We are just teased in the most childish way possible.
Yes, I’m angry. And I know I shouldn’t be, because I should not care, and we are, as said, not really friends any longer. I shouldn’t even be receiving these letters but have been too cowardly to ask to be removed from the mailing list.
The conclusion is that there is a reason we are not really friends any longer and this is one of them.
Like she, the most unselfish person in the world is, after all, preoccupied with attention – with all the hidden cameras that follow her around (like a good, still-friend once wrote in a novella).
So there must be some lack in her, like there has been in me for years, which makes her reach out for the kind of attention which seems not really to be about helping other people, more like helping herself … to something. And it is pissing me off.
But I can let go of it after a few days, not just because I see the same attention-seeker in myself from years back.
But because the other side of the story is that she is down there, saving lives. And it is certainly that which she wants as well. I’m up here and so are many others.
She is down there, doing the hard work. Sacrificing time, money and security, and a bit of family as well – to do it. And she will go again and again. For the rest of her life.
I know it. I know her. We’ve known each other, on and off, for 25 years.
But that doesn’t matter. What matter is, as said, that she is there. For others. In the most unselfish way possible.
Maybe that makes her need the cameras. Maybe something else, something from childhood. Doesn’t matter either.
She is there.
She is doing the hard, difficult and dirty work of saving people nobody cares about.
That gives her the right to a few cameras, and I should remind myself of that whenever possible.