I left Nepal six weeks ago. Returning to a United States marked by Black Lives Matter protests, police violence, and COVID spreading nearly unchecked in many states. I’ve been digesting all this collective pain and uncertainty before the backdrop of personal loss and change. Looking back on the poems I wrote in April and May in Nepal and the words that are beginning to flow again now, common themes emerge:

What does “being home” mean now? Our home country is in upheaval, calling for us to step outside our houses and our comfort zones to advocate for a country that all its citizens can truly call a home. Our houses, on the other hand, now need to hold us for many more hours of the day, and many new activities that we previously took out into our offices and social spaces. Is home a refuge or a cage?

Loss. We are all together and alone experiencing so much loss. Loss of health, loss of lives. Loss of a sense of ease around other people. Loss of jobs and plans and of just being okay. Loss of the taken-for-grantedness of a friend’s hug or of going out. Loss of silence in the face of death upon death at the hands of the police. Loss of our habits of consumption and pollution and movement and status quo.

So much has changed. So much can change. We are afraid, untethered, maybe hopeful. Deprived of much of what we loved or were attached to, we get to try out new ways of being. Long commutes give way to time for self and family. Complacency is washed away by compassion for all the suffering around us. The loss of dates and embraces, of concerts and of travel makes every greeting by a stranger, every walk with a friend an occasion for gratitude.

We must do what we can with what we have.


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