Friday, January 28, 2011
Sixty-six years ago yesterday, Soviet troops liberated 7,000 prisoners at Auschwitz. I can't imagine what it must have been like for those people - any of them - the prisoners or the soldiers. When I try to connect to the energy of that moment, I feel dizzy and have to go lie down for a minute. It surely must have been intense. I imagine a shattering of the energetic boundary around the camp, a slap upside the head for the liberating soldiers, an awakening from the nighmare for the prisoners. Whoa.
That was a whole lifetime ago, eight years before I was born, almost to the day. I'm beginning to understand, at a very deep level, that IF I decide to visit the camp during my time in Poland, the most important strategy to get me through the experience will be to remain in the present moment.
I got into trouble on the Civil War battlefields because I allowed myself to wander in time backwards to the battles themselves. It's kind of easy to do that because there are so many ghosts still fighting the battles over and over again. The re-enactors just make things worse, in my opinion.
In fact, during the time I was studying the Civil war, I became, in some way, stuck somewhere between 1860 and 1865. Whenever I was out and about, I identified locations based on what was happening then, not now. As I walked through Lincoln Park, or sat in the rotunda at the Capitol, I would think, "This was a hospital." (Both were.) It was an interesting experience, but not exactly healing in any way.
When we were little kids, my parents taught us about the Holocaust. They were still so traumatized by it that I believe they went too far, showing us the pictures and such. I can remember my mother saying, "Don't ever walk willingly into an oven!" That is such a weird thing to say, isn't it?
Maybe because of their (understandable) vociferousness, or due to my unfortunate past life experience in the Holocaust, or both, I've spent my whole life slightly afraid of being dragged off at any given moment, imprisoned, starved and killed. Seriously, it's always there, just under the surface. I know it's not rational, and yes I've worked on this issue in several different kinds of therapy. The fear lingers, even though it's not supposed to.
The black hole of World War II was so huge, I believe it captured some bit of my soul, sucked it down into the darkness where it remains to this day, swirling around and around. I want to retrieve my soul, bring it forward in time to 2011. I'm ready. So you see this is why I spend so much time thinking about the trip to Poland, why I'm working so hard to prepare for whatever it is I'll decide to do when I get there.
I know a lot of my journey will be focused on having fun: drinking vodka, listening to klezmer music, hanging out in the medieval square in the center of Krakow with my friend. Maybe I'll go to Oswiecim, maybe not. I don't think there's any way I can understand what I'll want/need to do until my feet are on the ground in Poland. I'll let the land guide me, and the weather, you know.
Without slipping backwards in time, this morning I am remembering those who died at Auschwitz, with respect and love, remembering those who somehow survived, with awe. Remembering the guys who had to go in there and help the survivors out. Holy cow.
Holocaust Remembrance Day was yesterday, so I'm a little late. Oh well. Happy Friday y'all. Carpe diem! Shalom.