Monday, November 10, 2014

Stand Down

This time last year, I attended the Veterans Day Stand Down in San Antonio, an event for homeless veterans.  I took the lead in the Tuberculosis Control Program's participation in it.  We had a table with educational materials on TB, a tri-fold poster, and fruit to giveaway.  I should have brought more fruit and I wished that we could have done more.  Many other tables were giving away necessities, offering services or providing health screenings.  And all we could give were information sheets and apples (TB testing is only recommended if you're a contact to someone with TB and usually required if you work in a healthcare facility).

I heard stories of struggle and hope, words and expressions of gratitude.  And as a life-long people watcher, I observed every one who visited our table.  The life in their faces, their clothes, visible disabilities, mannerisms.  All that I saw that day spurred some thoughts once I got home after work.  I had recently started this blog and given in to my slight obsession with clothes and style and stuff.  One year ago, I typed out these thoughts and they've been trapped in a blog post draft ever since.  
I have clothes for the basic necessity.  I'm able to think beyond that and think about clothes for the design, for the look, the style.  And not for the function.

There's something about fashion that feels so trivial to me.  To talk about this shoe or this on-trend color, or how to wear an embellished's such a eye-opener to privilege.  It also introduces levels of fortune.  The phrase is to think of others "less fortunate."  You're so fortunate to be alive.  You're so fortunate to have a roof over your head and food to eat.  You're so fortunate to have a loving family.  You're so fortunate to go to college, to that Ivy League school, to study abroad.  You're so fortunate to live in that mansion, to fly first-class, to own those cars. [Other people do not have what you have, so be thankful.  Other people have more than you have, but still, be thankful]

How to reconcile this?  We're not meant to be at the same denominator.  Am I not allowed to express frustration when my biggest problem is social anxiety/awkwardness, while someone else's biggest problem is having enough food to eat?  Am I allowed to indulge in my interests (fashion, photography) when others work literally 24/7 and to have a hobby is not a thing?  But these so-called "first-world" problems would probably become the problems of the most disadvantaged, if in some utopia we were all equal (with the same basic survival needs met).  Problems are problems; they belong to the person experiencing them.  Some may be truly serious, some may be minor, but in the context of that individual's life, the problem likely aligns appropriately.

Those are some very incomplete thoughts, but I decided not to alter them or add to them.  I still wonder what to do about them, what to think about certain things, and how I am supposed to be a player in this world.  Not so I can win the game, but so more people may even play the game.  And I'm still working on not being embarrassed or ashamed about the things I like.  To be shameless...that's another idea to explore another day.
Happy Monday and Happy Veterans Day Tomorrow

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