Shaking

By: Carolyn Cresci, Winner of the 2014 LIU Post Recycling Scholarship, Sociology Major, Class of 2014

She grew up anxious.
Crying,
gasping,
panicked,
sweating,

Shaking.

She was fourteen. Her parents tried to help her but she closed herself from their love.
So she shook.
The therapists tried to help her, but she wouldn’t speak.
They couldn’t find her triggers. Everything triggered her.
And so she shook.
The medicine stopped her shaking but it also stopped her will to try.
So she stopped the pills, and continued to shake.
She was twenty. She got on a plane and went far away, shaking the whole way.

She woke up one morning and forgot where she was. This tent in the African savannah was not her warm bed in which she shakes.
So she shook in her sleeping bag.
But she could not hide in a tent, the way she could hide in her home.
So she stood up, and grimaced as the sun hit her face.

What is this world? She wondered, seeing the trees and the mountains and people around her. How did I get here? She asked, but received no answer.
She trembled,
But suddenly she had to know more.

She was welcomed into the home of many, not one of them questioning her silence. They spoke to her in foreign tongue, and took her silence as an opportunity to teach. They grew silent together. They showed her to explore when she was scared. Njoo, they said. Come, learn. Do not hide. See the simpler things in life –
Drink water, child. Boil it for yourself.
Visit the neighbors. Bring them milk from our cow. And when they feed you in return, you thank them, my child. Use your voice. Friends are a blessing, so make them.
Cook, child. Filter the pebbles from the rice with your own two hands. Peel the potatoes with a dull knife. Light the fire to create a stove. And be sure to save the soap you used to wash the fruit, for we will use it for our dishes and our laundry tomorrow.
Take time for the little things, child. The smallest of tasks are the more important.
And when she began to tremble, they taught her to pumzika. Rest, my child.

She returned five month later.
Her parents greeted her at the gate, welcoming them into her arms,
and she entered them gladly.
They all stood frozen, waiting for the shaking.
But the shaking never came.
She looked up at them and smiled, her face glowing with the aftermath of the warm sun,

“Change,” she said, loudly and clearly,
“I am the change, and I have brought it home with me.”
A year has gone by, and she is still the change. She has taught it to her home.
When she does the dishes, so she does them by hand, conserving water.
Do it this way, mother. She teaches. It has not always flown so freely from these faucets.
Recycle your bottles, father, for others are impacted by your trash.
Take home your leftovers, brother. Eat them for lunch tomorrow, for each meal is a gift.
Carpool to school, my dear friends. The gasoline you pump into your car flows freely through the oceans far from here, destroying many important ecosystems.
Every person in this room is richer than half of the world, my fellow students. Do not cry over loans, because someone was eager to give them to you.

Invest in health, both yours and the health of those around you. Actively use your education, empower the women in your life. These things will decrease poverty throughout the world. Use the privileges you were born with, and the privileges you have gained for yourself, to bring life to another. You have been put on this Earth for a reason, and we must keep its nature as well as its people together.

Never forget that you are the change. We are all the change. And once you have embraced it, you must teach others. For the most important part of change is guiding the way, so that more change will happen after you.

Do not shake, my friends, for there is a whole world out there in need of your strength.

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