Photo: A little girl living in the rubble of Port Au Prince, Haiti/ Feb. 2010
In memory of the thousands that lost their lives and to the people of Haiti who made me believe in the power of hope, humanity, and the human spirit.
There was a time many years ago, when I first began doing what I do, when I thought I could fake it--you know, cover a story somewhere and go through the emotions, not giving away pieces of myself in return. I tried to push my emotions aside, tell the story and leave when I was done. I'd focus on the mechanics: story-telling and structure. I'd have conversations, conduct interviews, and I wasn't even there. I'd nod, look in others' eyes, but my vision lost focus, my mind turned to details.
People became characters, plot lines in a story I was constructing in my head. Their mouths moved, I heard only lines of track, bites of sound. I listened for what I could use--and the rest, I fast forwarded through, deleted and never looked at again.
When I had what I needed to put a full story together, I'd pull out. Leave them behind and never really stay long enough to let my emotions set in. I thought I could get away unscathed, unchanged. The truth was I hadn't gotten out at all. It's impossible to block out what you see, what you hear. Even if you stop listening, the pain gets inside, seeps through the cracks you can't close up. You can't fake your way through it. I know that now. You have to absorb it all. You owe them that. You owe it to yourself as well.
Sometimes, in the aftermath, when you take the time to realize that hope is within, you find an image--or two, that just makes you smile and wish you had more time to feel for those who make you who you are.