By NICOLE BURROWS
I’M KIND of old school when it comes to writing. I like to sit down and be comfortable with my pen ... a nice, smooth writing pen and a notebook or some paper that’s almost bright white, smooth finish, not too porous, and just write to my heart’s content ... write on whatever it is that’s going on around me, especially in the political arena. Things that affect my country, my people.
Sometimes, if I’m in a hurry, I’ll grab my laptop and type it straight through the first time so that my first draft is actually typewritten, which obviously saves a lot of time. But I prefer, when time allows, to cuddle up in a corner and just be really cozy and write in quietness.
Today is one of those days when I look at the log of possible subjects, the place where I keep a list of things I can write about – and it’s pretty long – and I go blank immediately. It’s not an exhaustive list and it constantly grows and I move it around from here to there as I get the feeling to, but today I’m looking at this list and feeling like there’s nothing here I have any interest in writing about.
And it’s not that none of it is relevant, it’s just that I’m so tired of throwing my words to the wind. And, yes, I know that there are a lot of people who read my writing, there are a lot of people who appreciate my writing; there are some people who don’t read it and some people who don’t appreciate it and that’s okay. But right now I’m so frustrated, looking at this paper that’s been blank for hours.
I’m trying earnestly to insert myself because I notice that people love to hear something personal. But even that I’m not motivated to do. I feel like not speaking, not writing. If I didn’t have to write, I’d probably just do something that didn’t require words at all. No words, just feelings. If I’ve ever been at any time a good writer it’s because I’m a good feeler. I feel things more deeply than most people do, which is why I suppose I see things more differently than most people do.
I look around me and I see a city burning and they see a campfire. And they bring hotdogs and marshmallows to roast over the campfire, while I’m wondering what is wrong. “Why can’t you see what’s happening here? Do you exist in a realm of oblivion, where you choose to not notice so you don’t, or are you just that optimistic? Well, shoot, I wish we all could be more optimistic, but the nature of this life presents that your environment can be very suppressive, and when you are a feeler, and when you have to express, you express everything that you take in from your environment.
And in my environment, it feels like the town, the city, the country is caving in on itself, caving in on us, caving in on me. What is there to write for now? What is there left? Is this in vain?
In another ten years, what are we gonna be faced with, if this is where we’re at now, where there are so many things wrong. And God, I’m tired of writing about what’s wrong. I’m sure people think I’m just negative and I can’t see good in anyone or anything. But that’s not it. By nature and training, I analyse problems and pick apart the things that afflict, line them up, and remove them, one way or the next.
Lately these things are quickly accumulating and they crowd out the possibility of real optimism. Nobody wants to be depressed, nobody wants to be upset, nobody wants to be sad. But our sad reality is that there is little to look forward to in The Bahamas. The vicious lack of economic opportunity underlies every problem we face. Sucking off the tourism teat is not working; it hasn’t worked for a long time. But they pretend and gloss over it and act like it’s not real.
I’m so tired of living amongst people who, all they do is, pretend and cover up. I go out in public and I have conversations about this with friends and friends of friends and even strangers, and they lament the same thing. Life in The Bahamas is depressing. It’s a depressing place to live, especially if you can’t afford to live here, which most of us really and truly, at this point, can’t. Where are we going, when most Bahamians can’t afford to live in The Bahamas ... at least not in the developed part of The Bahamas? I guess we could all pick an island and go live in the bush and then forget about wifi and electricity and running water.
I don’t see a lot of hope on the horizon for the people of The Bahamas, and when I feel this way it’s really hard to write any message of hope. But, I made a commitment to write, so by the time I’m done saying all of this to my voice recorder, something is gonna have to go down on this paper, or something is gonna have to get typed onto this blank screen.
What I really want to do is write about what’s really wrong, expose realities, expose truths. There is so much information I can share but there are other people attached to it, and if I share it then does that compromise them? That’s my only hesitation. I look at it and I think, well, it is for the greater good that you would share it, so maybe just share it.
In my writing, it seems that I will have to find another way to overcome this difficulty ... not worrying about fallout. Really, people who oppress rely on the fact that you are unwilling to say. They rely on the fact that you have something to protect and therefore they are always and will always remain in control of you. But The Bahamas will not grow, or get better, if we don’t all come from under this shell of oppression where we’re afraid to tell our stories. We need to be courageous. But I just don’t see that level of courage in our people right now. And, I think, as I lie here talking to this voice recorder, that is really what bothers me.
Our situation is not hopeless because people don’t have money, or jobs, or because Baha Mar isn’t opening. It’s hopeless now because the people lack the courage to stand up for themselves. The “war on crime” will never be won if people don’t speak up. Our people are fearful, and maybe that’s because all these years they’ve been trained to be fearful and never question. But what’s really happening is the lack of courage is breaking down their freedom. Fear is actually making freedoms useless, and making the people powerless.
What is freedom for, if we lack the courage to take out the layers of corruption and negligence that are such a part of the fear that breaks apart that freedom?
How can you be fearless, if you feel bound? How can you be fearless without your freedom?