Episode 2 of Treme brought up an interesting point last night: the volunteer aspect of the equation.
It's easy, I suppose, to try and absorb the tragedy, to educate oneself and immerse oneself in the goings-on. But the narrative cannot be made wholly real because of one blatant, glaring point: You. Weren't. There.
It's not your story.
It's not your home.
It's not your city.
But no one would ever make the mistake of saying: It's not your fight.
"We really appreciate what you're doing for our city," people say. And they do. But of course, they're wary of outsiders coming in and trying to claim the disaster for their own. And there is certainly some degree of skepticism involved ("Oh, you get to take a week off from your regular life, come down here, clean up a little of the mess and go home to your stable home and job and family and feel like you are alleviated of some liberal, white guilt.")
But the point is, we wouldn't be watching Treme if we didn't feel involved in some way. If we hadn't, somehow, gotten sucked into these collective stories. And maybe we got involved, to whatever degree, because there is something so realistic and believable about it. New Orleans may not be our home, and Katrina may not have been our personal un-doing. But our homes are just as fragile, our lives just as transient as anyone elses. And we know, deep down, that we're not really all that safe from anything. A freak car accident, a mugging, a collection of random cells gone rogue and metastasizing. We dig our fingers into the dirt of New Orleans because we know that people would dig theirs right back in ours if something went terribly wrong.
Or, at least, we hope so. You put out into the world what you hope to get back. It's a radically simple karmic theory but, in my experience, It. Works.
It's not tit for tat. Make no rookie mistake on that.
But it's an energy, it's something you're buying into. A general way of being in the world. Opening your world view to encompass the losses of a few hundred thousand people in a city sixteen hundred miles away might mean you smile at strangers. It might mean you hand a homeless man a five dollar bill (and then have a panic attack for ten minutes worrying that he's headed straight to the liquor store, but whatever) or it might mean that you turn off the incessant inner-monologue you have going on to listen intently to a friend who desperately needs your ear. Not your advice, not your opinion, just your ear.
The changes I have seen in my life in the past year or so I directly attribute to this attitude I've developed. This moment of having a choice at every second of every day as to who you're going to be, and how you're going to act. You don't have to gut or rebuild houses to put something good out in the world. You could just hold a door open for a stranger, send a card to someone you love telling them that, or make eye contact at a crucial moment. You consistently choose to be the best person you can be, the most honest and aware and kind, on a moment-to-moment basis.
Anyway...still in love with Treme. And the music....delicious.