Visage de la Paix -Picasso
Life is never boring at the Red Cross Office. The case management supervisor from Washington, DC left a couple of days ago and she asked me to take over her job. It’s not a hard job. I supervise between 30-50 volunteer caseworkers and review their finished casework before I send it to the headquarters. The management team lavishly praised me for putting together a system that gives an up to the minute report of number of cases processed. The FEMA guys want these numbers and they are relieved that they do not have to wait till the end of the day to get the report.
Somehow, I am glad I am out of the firing line. The face to face encounter with the hurricane victims was getting the best of me. I had to take a long break one day after an interview so I can hide and cry. I interviewed an 85 year old woman from New Orleans who was originally from Germany and has no living relatives that she knows of in the US or in Germany. Her neighbors took her with them to evacuate to our hometown when water started rising in their neighborhood. She said she watched her car float away from her garage. Her husband died last year and left her a home and a car. They did not have any insurance on the home nor the car because they were on fixed income. I started getting teary eyed when she said, “I am 85 years old and I lost everything I have. I am too old to start all over again. Who would hire me at my age? Where am I going to live now?" I hugged her and reassured her that I will do everything in my power to help her. I processed her case and gave her some referral to other community services and gave her my name and contact number so I can help her further if the other agencies fail to assist her. I kept my dignity and did not bawl while she was there but I did a quick getaway to the restroom as soon as she left so I can cry. And cry, I did.
On the lighter note, I would like to share my all time favorite poem. I stumbled in it when I was in highschool and it helped me form some of my present convictions. I also love the tittle. It sounds so exotic and mysterious.
Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy.
Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.