Musings of Anna1liese

Dream Hope Breathe Believe
MARCH 13, 2011 5:30PM

Eyes Aching

Rate: 19 Flag

I have been writing this for days.  Weeks now.  Almost a month.  How much is mine to tell.  


Today I can barely find a word of news.  If I could hear it, could I really hear it.  I only want to hear ... what I want to hear ... just this once.  At least this once.


Gaddafi, Gadhafi, Kaddafi, Khaddafi, Qaddafi.  How many ways have we learned to spell his name.  How many ways have we learned to ignore what we ought to have known.  How many ways have we allowed ourselves to look away.  How many countries, people, lives have we refused to see.


I speak to myself here perhaps more than I speak to anyone else.  I walked for a while in this land.  Why did I not know.


I watch the news.  I can’t watch the news.  I want every bit of news.  I can’t take any more if it in.  I watch enough to know why it is never enough to watch only one network’s coverage of anything.  Mostly I wake up at 0400 to listen to BBC.  0400 here.  1000 in London.  1200 in Libya.  1600 here.  2200 in London.  0000 in Libya.


BBC reporters rarely wade in and announce a detail until they are reasonably sure, have sources, some sense of clarity.  This was as true in Egypt as it is in Libya.  Just now they seem to have so little access that nothing is coming live.  If I listen to Al Jazeera, at least there is something.  I find myself looking at every face.   Would I know his eyes.


I could wander away in a thousand directions here.  I am not feeling very measured about any of this.  I will try to be measured here.


21 Dec 1988.  I had been four months at the college.  Most everyone else was in the air or had already flown home to the States for the holiday.  My home was England then and so I was, momentarily, left in charge.  That morning we had checked the student rooms to make sure no one had been missed.  Officially the college was closed.  That afternoon I was home when news broke.  Lockerbie.  Pan Am 103.  How does such shock register.  I see the screen and watch smoke rise.  I see the crater.   Some other sense alerts.  Were any of the students ours.


I rang the college and was put straight through.  The chief guard who had walked with me that morning through all the rooms  had then met with our one student still needing to get home.  His ticket had come to the school.  Our guard couldn’t find it.  For once, error saved this student’s life.  He missed the flight that failed.


Time moved on.  I spent a summer session working with four students who needed to learn to write in a language not first their own. The spelling differences call me here.  One student from Oman wrote often of the desert.  My Egyptian seemed always to write about his country and his culture.  My Spanish woman wrote about most anything and stretched us all.  My last student, my Libyan, began always by writing about his country’s leader.  He began the name with a Q.  


Most of our international students arrived able to converse well enough in English.  Mostly they could understand and be understood.  Writing a language is more difficult.  Most days we spent the three hours discussing writing and actively writing.  Often we met in the evening in my counselling office when they brought their papers to me.  By the end of the term, we knew each other well.


Everyone knew our Libyan.  He was a gentle charmer with his sparkling eyes and humble smile.  During his first full year with us, he worked closely with an American woman.  She had come just for the year and then needed to return to the American campus.  Her parents wanted her to come home.  In the end it was decided that our Libyan would return with her.  Because of Lockerbie, security and clearance were tight.  Papers needed to be signed.  Financial securities had to be in place.  He had talked with his parents and all was agreed.  


Then August came.  Our American woman was already home and making plans for his arrival.  I came on campus one early evening.  I learned immediately that he was looking for me.  He found me steps away on the ground floor.  I needed no words from him.  The pallor of his skin said all.  We climbed the stairs to my turret office.  No one would hear or disturb us there.


His eyes had been looking for me.  They never left my own that night.  


If I had suspected something might go wrong, I would have thought governmental exigency.  His government or one of mine.  I was wrong.  No one foresaw the wrench that came.  


How often did I come to learn behind my office door in the quietness and safety the space allowed of cultural differences, traditions, of family expectations and demands of loyalty.  Mine was to listen and learn and then to help, if I could, whoever it was to try and look at all they could see of what their truth was in order to find their own way through.


Before that night, my student had told me about his world.  I had some sense of his role at home, some sense of what that meant.  By the time he began to speak his words that night, I think both of us became only eyes.  As he spoke and as I listened, our eyes kept searching for sense.


Later, he shared his story with a particular class.  Let me break no confidence here even as I may not be perfectly clear.


He had been told his family would allow his dream, his hope for happiness.  As they spoke these words to him, his father prepared and put in place a totally different reality, a choking, limb destroying, spirit suffocating reality that would become legally binding for him within hours, almost as soon as daylight arose.  They didn’t need his physical presence.  They didn’t need his signature.  They needed nothing.  He had no way to resist.  


I kept thinking, hoping that there was a question I did not see, had not asked, something that would take all of this away.  There was nothing.  All was happening as he had been told hours earlier by his mother,  the mother who had loved him so.  Somehow she had been broken.  He had heard that in her voice.  She could not save herself.  She could not save her son.


Fathers rule.  When they speak, you will do as you are told.  There will be no wings to let you fly.  Even now.  Even here, when a father has only until now let his family’s honour down.  When he speaks, you will obey or you, in turn, bring dishonour on your family.


He had spoken of this before, but now it became far more real.  Now his father’s word, his father’s will ensnared the father’s eldest son.


Dawn came.  The hour passed.  Legal documents had been put in place.  Eyes closed until they could see again.


When he found me again, he had calmed.  He was no longer seeking a way out.  He was the elder brother.  His younger brother’s future was no future if he chose in any way to further besmirch their family name.  And so his path was clear.  He would rescue honour if he could not rescue himself.  I watched as he laid down his boyhood and with newfound courage, calm and dignity accepted what he had not chosen.  


I look for his face, his name as I watch all that is happening now.  As I watch, I remember one who looked straight in the eye of paternal oppression, faced it by choosing what he saw to be right.  If he could choose courage, so might others now.  Some have stood, spoken, risked all to walk free of power’s silencing.


But now, will they stand, can they stand.  Do we stand with them, and if so, how do we let them know.  How do we help them dream their dream.  Or do we simply watch as a father will not allow his children the air they need, as a father seeks to destroy his children’s will.  Where are all our eyes.


We are all to blame, someone said to me not so long ago while we waited for one country to make a choice we hoped it would make.  It did not.  I knew he was right then.  I know he is right still.  Why, when there might be time, do we choose not to open our eyes.


Still we wait or we ... what.  What if they were our children, our families, our futures.  Well, wherever they are, they are ours.  Just as much as we are theirs.  Either we believe in peace and hope or we believe in nothing and may someone have mercy on us all.


It is not ours to tell them what they need, to worry about our interests or to step foot on their soil.  First, we must listen as they attempt to speak, but can we not stand somehow with them as they seek to find their own ways through.  I am not looking for answers here.  I simply offer my voice and give it air and hope my tiny energy will reach theirs.  



I let myself believe that my eyes have been open, but I have failed to look and I have failed to see.  I have allowed myself not to look beyond.  If I could see his eyes now ....  If I could see his eyes now,  I would see all I need to see.  If I could ....




Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
What a strong and positive hope you send out anna1. When our rhetoric is reduced by the human, the knowing of another human, how they feel, their dreams, their hope for the future, that is when the walls fall. Hoping for a turn of events, a change in leadership that benefits the people.
Robin, Thanks.

Rita, Thank you for hearing this. I know how much else is going on in the world and my attention is there as well, but this one was one of mine. When he missed his mother, he would come and sit with me, talk with me. His concern was not with his leader. I wonder now if that felt too far away. His family was his concern. He knew one day the responsibility might come to him but he hoped he would have some time, this time, for himself. He was so positive, so naturally happy. But that night, his eyes. He walks with me.

Once more when I think of him and now possibly of his children, I feel as though time is running out and I can do nothing to help. I began to write this weeks ago. When I could stand it no longer, I placed the words in a safe home just to try and give them air. I needed them to speak to him, for him. So few seem to be listening. I watched once as a father attempted to confine, limit, diminish his son. I can’t bear to watch the same thing happen again in a far more violent way. I remember how my eyes ached that night as the hours passed us by. I feel it all again now.

I hoped for him once. I hope for him now again.
"Either we believe in peace and hope or we believe in nothing and may someone have mercy on us all."

There's a lot of wisdom in that paragraph and the one after it, that one line really says it all. I too have hope for us all, I wish us all peace. Thank you.
What's saddest in all this is that we who have the freedom to choose that this young man did not, so foolishly and callously take it for granted. We sit on our asses and whine because the choices we are offered as leaders are not perfect, and so we don't even both to vote. We don't bother to educate ourselves, we don't bother to question the lies, we don't bother to speak up in the face of racism or gay-bashing or religious intolerance or corporate crapitalism.

We should be ashamed, but we're not.
Tom speaks the truth as you write it, anna1liese, but @ Tom : I am ashamed - that my voice is not louder, that my dollar is not more effective, that my vote is diluted by the very process this man's eyes ache to witness.
I am ashamed of my impotence.
I glory in the feelings held, anna1liese, and released : I wish for you a cloud of white doves, a million sprigs of olive across that barren place.
I am asking for blue white peace to come to you Anna on the wings of the gentle breeze and settle beside you with the quietness of a sleeping cat. May this light shine in your mind and surround you with peace to understand you are human too. All of us can only go so far and can only change ourselves.
Thinking of you today Anna.
l’Heure, I am grateful for your reading. I am grateful for your hope.

Tom, I hear your words. I feel ashamed that I looked away, that only now am I beginning to see what I never looked to see before. I focused on my one. I focused on his family, on his tribe. But I never looked beyond.

I had so many students from so many countries whose customs and whose cultures I needed to learn in order to hear them more fully, more completely.

Listening. Hearing. Looking directly into another’s eyes. Eyes do not lie.

When he came back, his eyes told me all I needed to know. Then. What would his eyes tell me now.

Mission, Thank you for such lovely thoughts. I will hold the images you send, especially the quietness of a sleeping cat. How kind you are.

Kim. That you have read these words helps me. I feel I am inside a shack looking up and looking out, wanting a world to see what we see and allow the peace we want to see, wish we had always seen. Inside the shack I am not alone. Nor are they. Nor is my one. Inside the shack is the voice of one who speaks his heart. Of his heart. From his heart. Honestly. Is there any other way. To speak. To feel. To be. I know of none.

Why can’t the world come and sit at that table, listen, share, look up, look out.

Would that the world would come. Today. This minute. Now.

I hear your words here. All of them. I share in the shame and impotence. But my soul is lifted by your closing words and wish. I wish the wish as well.
Still hard to find news. Harder yet to know what is actually true.

I wish a wish. I hope a hope. But I am so afraid. Will he simply gun them all down. He waits to cower them, to overwhelm them with fear.

If you could see my eyes again as you saw them then, you would not need to hear my words. You would simply know. In whatever way I can, I stand with you.

You have your own wisdom. You don’t need mine. All I can really offer now is what I offered then, my belief in you, my hope for you. Now as then, they are yours.

Perhaps if I come here every day and read the words again, I can keep sending this tiny energy of mine and others to stand with you. Know that I will try.
Anna1 the world needs more of you! Your thoughts and wishes for the Libyan people need to be heard (quickly) in every corner of the UN and, of course, other places. We all need to make a sum of our "tiny energy" and send it where it needs to be. Well done through your eyes and those of the once-student, let us all hope for a better world for those in Libya - those that have a "father" that does not care one whit for his "children" but for the power he holds over them. Thank you.
Peparchaeo, it helps to see a bit more energy added here today. It is hard to know which news is true, if any is true. So few are safe enough to observe and report. So few feel safe in any way. But still they stand. They try. They hope.

I wish a wish for them. I hope a hope for them. With them. May they somehow be safe. Tonight. Hours now, so he says. May you not be the ones who fall. If safety were mine to give, it would be yours. I wish for you the peace you seek. A wish. A hope.
I will hold a prayer of peace in my heart for anna1liese, for the young men, for all of us. This is an extraoridnary prayer you have written. Hugs to you.
Many thanks for your thoughts, Antoinette. A prayer of peace. A wish. A hope. Again. Today. Every day until peace comes.

I am grateful for all thoughts, all wishes here. I wish the wishes on.
I love your heart.
Lady, Lovely words. I hold these thoughts as days go by. Thinking just now of barrenness and battle. I see his eyes, all their eyes. I wish a wish and hope a hope and send a prayer of peace. Love I send as well.
Some have stood, spoken, risked all to walk free of power’s silencing.

two fists high
Thank you for your words, J. P.
May the voices of the people be the voices that are heard.
I wish a wish. I hope a hope. I pray a prayer of peace.
"I watch the news. I can’t watch the news. I want every bit of news. I can’t take any more if it in. I watch enough to know why it is never enough to watch only one network’s coverage of anything. " What can we believe... or believe in? The answer- I believe- is in people such as your student and yourself. {hugs}
Many thanks Chloe. Many thanks.
Still ... I look for his eyes. And still ... I ache.
And yet I hear your words. And ... still ... I ... ache.
Who could let him know that some are here who wish him ... all he hopes. I wish you ... all you hope. I am in that turret office listening. In absentia. I hear the words and I see you. And the wife you brought back to us. Did you bring your brother too. I read words you wrote the next year. I wish I could see your eyes now.

I wish a wish. I hope a hope. With all I have, I send a prayer of peace. For you. For yours. For all. Always. Please be safe. Please may peace one day be yours. Please.
Four weeks tomorrow since I shared this. Time moves on and I can only watch from here. I fear for you and all you love. Once more your world has become my world and I can not put it down. I can think of little else. I hope against hope that somehow more is happening than we are hearing and that somehow you and all you love will be heard and safe and free. If I could wish you free, then freedom would be yours.

If I could see your eyes, I would know. Meanwhile, I watch. I wish a wish and hope a hope. With all I have, I send a prayer of peace. May these and those of others here reach you and calm your eyes.
I hope you catch sight of him on a newscast and he is smiling and you know he is well and happy.
So many people in the world, just so many...
I wish for YOU to be happy Anna.
Julie, I so appreciate your thoughts and wish. Something about him touched my heart. It was as though he were a son I might one day have had. There was something so special about the world we all shared there. We learned so much from each other if we allowed ourselves to listen deeply. Day by day now I watch and listen. Day by day I wish and hope and pray. So many people in the world. So many. Yes.
I think this will haunt me as I watch the continued coverage now. I will continually be asking myself, "are my eyes open?" I send courage, love and light to all those trying to overcome oppression, in Libya and elsewhere. May God watch over us all.
This is such an intriguing and personal take on what's happening out there. rated!
Maybe your care for this student and his country will be the butterfly that helps cause the tsunami that brings much needed change. When I realized that this was the same oppressive leader that's in power since 1969...I was ashamed of myself for not paying attention. You are a fine writer.
For me, then key in this riveting piece is "how many ways have we learned to ignore what we ought to have known...". I will keep this with me today.
Thank you for these thoughts. Please don't mind if I respond one by one. I have a sense of trying to stretch energy of our thoughts day by day here. I am grateful for each thought shared here. Know that please. Know that now. All of this is still so real. If real for me, how real for those who are there.
Sparking, For someone with your courage to send courage to all of these is sure to reach and lift them as they try to lift themselves. Thank you for your words.
Caroline, I appreciate your reading. Day by day I wish a wish. I hope a hope. I pray a prayer for peace.
Part of me doesn't know where else to be just now. Have just finished reading In The Country of Men by Hisham Matar about a young boy's growing up in Libya. All of me aches from his words. A few minutes ago I saw a story on Al Jazeera about Libyans honouring Tim Hetherington for his work to tell their stories. My heart lifts even as it aches. In this moment I see your eyes in mine. I know and I hope. As you found your voice that summer, may others continue to find theirs now. And may those voices be heard and honoured. A wish. A hope. A prayer.
Helvetica, The butterfly you send says more to me than you can know. Thank you for this. On these wings today I send a wish, a hope, a prayer.
Thank you, Spike, for your thoughts. I appreciate your coming to read. I seem to keep holding on here at the very least to lend air and energy to those who hope. A wish, a hope, a prayer. Again.
Thank you, Sheba. Time continues to pass and eyes ache still. I continue to wish and hope and pray. May voices be heard and may the freedom and peace they seek, be theirs.
So many days, weeks, months pass. Still ... I look for your eyes. And still ... I ache. So much I do not know, but knowing or not, I hope for you, for all you know, for all you love. Especially now and still, I wish a wish and hope a hope and pray a prayer of peace. If I could see your eyes now, I would see all I need to see. I hope so deeply to see your eyes filled with love and peace. I hold these thoughts every day but send them once more today.
Hours pass. I watch. I look. I listen to all I can hear.
Please know that I am sending the strongest hope I can. Somehow may the peace and joy you seek be yours as quickly and quietly and as safely as it possibly can be. Holding you and yours and all you love as best I can from here.
How I wish we might have one more evening in my office so that I could finally see your eyes. They would tell me all your news, all your thoughts, feelings, worries, joys. I would so happily sit there with you again for hours, listening to all you understand, all you have known and now, this hour, today, all you hope. I so hope peace for you and life and all the love and joy your heart can hold. Still I will watch for you and hope that someone somewhere will send me word. May your eyes, at last, need no longer ache. May all you fought to hold so long ago, bear the fruit you planted on your own and hold you from now on. If only I could see your eyes, mine would offer your eyes all the hope I have.
So very often ... I think of you ...
today ... with news of Megrahi ...
how many ways ...
for eyes ...
to ache ...
may your eyes ...
and those of all you love ...
be finding joy ...
and may all their aching ...
be in the past ...
if only my eyes ...
could somehow ...
know ...
meanwhile ...
my eyes ...
see your eyes ...
my heart ...
holds ...
yours ...
all ... of yours ...
may one day ...
we all ...
know peace ...
peace ...
love ...
for all ...
for always ...