Speechless. Do you ever feel speechless?
I’ve started writing blogposts about my weekend in Berlin (raising awareness on human trafficking), about my 2-days-conference in Lisbon (on human trafficking), about the days I’m spending near Hamburg right now (on accountability)… and I just can’t seem to finish them.
I can’t find the words.
Paul Valéry, a french author said:
“Un écrivain véritable est quelqu’un qui ne trouve pas ses mots. Alors il les cherche et trouve mieux.”
“A real writer is someone who can’t find the words. So he looks for them and finds better ones.” I don’t consider myself a writer, but the past few days, every time I tried writing I couldn’t find the words, so I looked for them and…I think I found better ones. So once more, I started with an idea and the end result has nothing to do with it.
I firmly believe that the soul takes more time to travel from A to B than the body. That’s why I love walking, I accept travelling by train or by car and hate travelling by plane.
Sunday afternoon I got out of the plane in Hamburg and felt a hole in me.
My soul was still stuck in Lisbon.
There are topics that are intertwined with feelings. Some feelings are hard to shake off.
Fighting human trafficking and exploitation is one of those topics. The feelings related to it stick on you like glue. Closing your notebook, your luggage, leaving the conference room and the city where a conference on human trafficking took place isn’t enough to leave the topic behind. Leaving the red-light district, going home, switching your TV on to fill your apartment with happy voices isn’t enough to leave the topic behind. Coming off stage, sitting down again, stopping your hands from trembling isn’t enough to leave the topic behind (oh the terrible question, did they get it? or will my words be like feathers floating around the room for a while until they reach the floor are walked on and forgotten?)
The topic of human trafficking and exploitation. It follows you around or better,
it forces your soul to “splinch” (you know, Ron’s arm in Harry Potter and the deathly hallows). It gets stuck behind. At least for a while.
It still sits there, in the room where you sat for two days talking about trafficking.
It still waits in that dark and dirty apartment where you just heard some of the most terrifying things you ever heard.
It lingers around the places you went physically and mentally.
Talking about how you feel in those moments isn’t easy. You feel that everything gets lost in translation. How can you even start to put into words a feeling that is so draining and loud and unfathomable and persistent? You can’t.
Sunday night someone asked me if I was tired from all this traveling. And all I could think of was, I feel jetlaged. The person was surprised since one hour time difference isn’t such a big deal. The thing is, I felt jetlaged coming back from Berlin too and there was no time difference involved.
Do you know the feeling you have when you go to the movies in the middle of the afternoon and after more than two hours you come out of the darkness of the cinema and the sun blinds you, everything you see and touch looks weird and you just feel completely out of place? Jetlaged. It takes time to settle into normality again. It takes time to leave the movie behind.
I feel like that, but the movie I saw wasn’t a movie.
I regularly come out of the darkness of dealing with the subject of trafficking and exploitation and the sun blinds me, everything I see and touch looks weird and I just feel completely out of place.
How dare I or other people laugh and go about my/their life/s when people near to me/them are being trafficked, when women are forced to have sex with too many men to count, when little boys are destroyed by greedy hands and little girls face things not even adult man could survive? I get mad at myself, at others. I feel sick.
How dare we move, breathe, live, love, laugh when so many people are robbed of those very things that make them human?
I feel lost in translation. I live in two world, one made of darkness and one made of fake sunshine causing that very darkness. I move from one to the other and my soul gets stuck in the darkness for a while and I feel lost.
Those are the tiny moments where I think “ma chi me lo fa fare!” something like “why on earth do I put myself through that!?”
Do you know those seconds while running when you think you can’t anymore, every tiny bit of your body pleads for you to stop, your face is red, every one of your muscles aches, breathing hurts your lungs, the sound of your heart beating is deafening. You just want to stop running.
Stop seeing a darkness that’s too hard to bear.
Stop being hunted by faces, voices, stories.
Empty eyes. Have you ever seen empty eyes?
Burns. Have you ever seen cigarette burns on the body of a young girl?
White knuckles. A little bit of fight left in a tiny body.
But you must keep on running.
Because if you survive that moment, your lungs will fill with air again, your heart will finds its normal pace again.
You will find your words again, your feet will stand on solid ground again, your soul will find its place back into your body. And you will find it is ok to breathe again, to laugh, to live. Many don’t have the chance to, you will do it in their honour. Your freedom won’t make you sick to your stomach anymore, your freedom will move you to do everything you can to bring freedom to others.
It’s ok to feel lost in translation. It means you care. It’s ok to lose your words but make sure that when you find them again you use them in the best way any human being could use the words given to him: speak up for those whose words are taken from them.
Make their unspoken or unheard words yours. Don’t allow them to get lost in translation.
That’s the word.