The Inner Sting

Roona Begum with mother


This picture of Roona Begum and her mother says everything I could ever say about everything. I have not been able to stop thinking about it.

Primarily, I see love. I see the absence of god.

I discussed the picture with my psychiatrist, who wants to help me find a space where my life feels worthy or livable. We talked about how I identify with both the mother and the child.

I noted that among the array of emotions stirred by this image, I managed to feel resentment: Why did this family have to start a kickstarter fund to raise $65,000 for Roona’s surgery?! $65,000 is such a negligible amount for someone like Sting, for example.


We talked about some other stuff, about the best use of resources for reducing poverty and hunger in places like India.

In exasperation, he concluded, “Fuck Sting! You can do something, too. You want to help people and you can. There are people right now who could use your help!”

He knows that helping others is the only salvation for me. I said, “So you mean, you want me to find my Inner Sting?”

We both laughed.

I tried to deflect the obligation of finding my Inner Sting with a quote that I couldn’t quite remember, saying “Well, what about if I only stand and wait, like Churchill said.”

Naturally, he was mystified, because I just looked it up and the quote is by John Milton: “They also serve who only stand and wait.”

But Milton wasn’t talking about me. I have stood and waited my whole life, it seems like. I must struggle to find my Inner Sting, even though I can hardly stay awake or stay asleep, and getting off the couch feels like a huge undertaking.

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10 Responses to The Inner Sting

  1. Dj says:

    Your heart is in the right place sister…I have a Billionaire cousin who I often think ” why the hell can’t he give money to this and that” I know he has given a great deal of money to his fucking alma football team. Millions! I hope he also thinks of those in greater need. I loathe college athletics and all those entitled twerps….anyway, you can do something. Plan to put a limit aside every year and make a donation. People tell me I need to volunteer, but I can’t get myself out there…you’re ok…..

  2. ali says:

    Well, you’ve helped me, for one. I am not a person who is in most need of your services, but I appreciate them nonetheless.

    Your voice has had an impact on the way I think about some items of significance.

    The more of a presence and impact YOU have on the world, the better. Just the blog is enough – but more is better.

  3. Hammie says:

    Make a calendar and sell it for charity. The theme can be “Fucking Cunts” Ask Sting to be Mr January.

  4. dana says:

    I adore you. I adore you. I don’t know what I can do, either. But look at our employment rate of 59%. It’s not like the old days where we can grow beans and shoot dinner, ya know. If they don’t give us jobs, they’re not worthy of the name “job creators.” They are the evil, the overlords, the Capitol.

    I desperately wish I knew what to do, too. I work and raise my kids. I have no life other than this. My husband says he “helps,” but this is part of the problem. I don’t need help. I need a partner, one who understands we must do all the things, plus save for college, retirement, and somehow keep this dump from collapsing around us.

    You are so terribly much smarter than I am, so I trust you to find a cause and be the light that understands and says we must keep going becuase so many need us. Suicide? K-12 education? Higher edu tuition? Homlessness? Whatever. You can be the compelling voice.

    Which isn’t really enough, is it? I have to get down with the people to believe I’ve ever been anything but a “watcher and listener.” Why is it so difficult? why can’t we be someone’s everything, not just our children’s? Why have I drunk so much wine?

    I adore you. Please keep living.

  5. Jaimi says:

    I struggle with this one, too. For a brief time I had this delusion that I would learn another language and do relief work, do something not horrible with my college degree.( But it didn’t exactly turn out that way! And I didn’t much want to get into voluntourism anyway!)

    Photographs like this, something totally treatable and preventable in western countries, kill me.

    I don’t have any good answers, but I do think that some ailing of malaise lies in helping others and you’d be great at that. There are so may big huge problems beyond us as individuals – maybe starting local could be more effective? I don’t know.

    It’s so totally fucked because I still cling onto this simplistic idea that there’s enough money to go around and that it’s kind of a made up concept in the first place, so let’s just take care of everyone as best as we can? But it usually doesn’t end up working out that way.

    Also happy birthday!

  6. Cricket9 says:

    I can’t get this picture out of my head. I may be able to say something coherent once I get over it.

  7. Marky says:

    I love Hammie. And I would buy one of those calendars.

  8. Mooo-lissa says:

    I want a calendar, too!
    And I agree with Ali and Dana — I need your blog and I adore you. Sister, last year I was so depressed (or was it this year? eh, it was recently) and I found your blog and felt so inspired by your intelligence, wit & compassion that I read for like 8 hours straight. And at the end of my reading, I didn’t wnt ro kill myself. I wrote you a note & you wrote a sweet reply. You are a great person and such a GREAT WRITER!!!! Can you publish your posts on Tumblr? Somewhere they can go viral? Because you are an influencer & I thinkore people need to know about you. Let your inner sister wolf out, (insert real name here)! The world needs her.

  9. Mooo-lissa says:

    *want to kill myself

    (Darn phone)

  10. Jeri says:

    Bill & Melinda Gates are capitalist cunts busy destroying public education via their foundations. And it;’s not simplistic to believe there is enough money to go around, there is, it’s just being re-directed to Bill Gates, et al. and away from little old starving ladies and disabled children. It’s not just the republicans who are out to gut government services and sell them off to their corporate sponsors. I too feel helpless but it helps a little to start recognizing the enemy- capitalism sucks for the many and is a boon to the few lucky Bills at the top.

    Your blog gives me joy in a joyless life. Thank you for posting your thoughts and from what I read being an outstanding human.

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