Here I am, where I wanted to be. Where things are meant to feel more real than a “Morning Brief” or “South Asia Daily” update from the Foreign Policy web team.
Here I am, and I’m not sure how to handle it.
It’s real, of course. Pakistan is in a state of war. The troops are out there, at the frontier, and every day the value of the human life falls a little lower. Thousands of people are pouring into the cities, some spilling over the border into Afghanistan. Meanwhile, a ranting demagogue is undermining urban stability, and a farcical democracy is falling into an ever deeper state of militarization.
Each day, we wake up knowing anything can happen. And of course it feels real – there are Rangers roaming the streets of Islamabad, guns pointing outwards, and there have been times when we have stayed home because it just made sense. However, no less terrible than the sense of insecurity is the collective sense of exhaustion.
It could just be me, having returned a little “olded.” But it really does seem like the energy and optimism that was there a few years ago, when so many young people were airing plans, has quickly withered away. I want to fight this sense of despondency, to say, “No, wait, look!” Honestly, it’s becoming increasingly hard to remember how it used to feel.
Always, there was a personal yearning to be Out There, on the frontlines – doing, learning, living and breathing and experiencing more. So many words and almost-ideas were tucked away, to be developed when I could do some ground-work and ensure that they were rooted in something true. Suddenly, however, there’s far too much happening to really absorb. As for the truth – well.
There’s something that still draws me to this particular place. It still holds the power of the familiar world, and the promise of some things warm and wonderful. But I need to remember how to keep looking.