Meditations In a Secret Pocket

I remember reading Anne Frank’s diary when I was nine and declaring I would go and work in the Dutch Resistance when I grew up.  I was (rather selfishly) devastated to learn the war was over.  Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to live that kind of life.  Often I think about it in terms of clothing- after all, everyone wears clothes.  Maybe that’s why I adore funny little secret pockets.

I slipped an invisible zipper into one of the lining seams on my big bellows pockets.  I toyed with this idea for a while and decided to test it out on my WW2 jacket.

Readers, I’m a news junkie.  NPR plays daily, I watch Australian SBS, BBC World service, and Al-Jazeera regularly.  My husband makes a hobby of keeping track of Glen Beck and Fox News.   I read other news blogs and various independent sources, and when big news is breaking I go to Twitter.  I filled my hours of quiet with sewing and in-depth feature reporting and felt myself slip into the flow.

As I sewed and listened, I remembered my first career aspirations.  I began to see how power-mania, corruption and bigotry combined with an apathetic and fearful population permitted the wide-spread horror surrounding WW2, not just the Holocaust.  I saw with sudden clarity how precisely those elements persist right now, just in a different place among different people.  Then I saw that as long as powerful people enslave and oppress weaker members of a society, there will always be a Resistance.

Remember Tunisia?  The people threw out an oppressive if stable ruler through peaceful demonstrations.  Their refusal to accept corruption sparked a wave of drastic, bloody and harshly beautiful change across the Arab world.  It began with one man.  Mohamed Bouazizi lit himself on fire because he couldn’t see anything else he could do.  Despite his good education, he couldn’t even work selling vegetables to feed his family. Imagine the frustration, the anger, the desperation which must have driven him to such an act.  He must have felt he had absolutely no other options.  His spark lit a fire that’s actively devouring oppression across the Middle East.  China won’t report on it.

I applaud the generally peaceful protestations of citizens across North Africa into deepest Arabia; I see their fight as one and the same as any other rag-tag group which history remembers as the ordinary people who decided to buck the system and fight for their rights, and for the rights of others.

(The bellows pleats hide the zipper pull really well)

When Mubarak stepped down, I set aside my cynicism and wept for joy with Egypt.   What happened was elegant; rare and beautiful.

 (Open zipper section.  I know it’s not secret now I blasted it all over the internet.)

Syrians have been protesting for reform for weeks.  Government forces arrested and tortured 13-year old children for writing anti-government graffiti. That was yesterday.  Syrians are out in large numbers for a complete regime change now, with little appetite for reform.  The military has used live ammunition against peacefully protesting citizens, and police cut off access to hospitals for the wounded.  Syrians are treating the wounded in private homes.  This is wrong, nothing about a government killing its citizens is right. My hat is off to you, Syrians, I know how long you held your collective peace.  We in the outside world know what you’re doing, we hear you and we know.  Keep fighting, you’re my heroes.

(Bartacks to hold both the top of the pocket in place and another to hold the pleats)

I can’t fight, I won’t light myself on fire, I can’t bind the wounds of the bleeding, but I can write words of encouragement.  I can pay attention to what’s going on- it’s important.  Bad things happen when good people look away and do nothing.

(Couldn’t find piping cord, so used some hemp twine I found lying around)

Perhaps the Western governments are in the same position I’m in.  I don’t know that it’s our place to invade countries and depose despots.  We all know how that turns out.  How about the words of John McCain in Libya: “They {the rebels} are my heroes.”  Those words have energized the resistance in Libya more than the carefully measured words from the White House.  Each has its place.

I don’t think their fight has nothing to do with me.  We are all human beings, we want to work hard and love our families and raise them without fear.  I am no different to the Syrian mother of that 13-year old child who was tortured.  I can’t imagine her pain, but my heart breaks.  I am the same as the over-educated and under-employed youth population in Egypt.

Why do I have a job and a home and stability when so many have nothing?  We are all the same.  I live in more comfortable surroundings, and I can write this piece without fear of government officials knocking down my door.  That is the difference, and I never had to fight for these things I have, they are my birthright handed down to me from others who paid a high price.

The internet, especially social-networking sites as facilitated the mass uprisings.  The internet allows immediate personal contact with people on the other side of the planet, access to official (and unofficial) news outlets, and encyclopedic knowledge on most topics imaginable.  Look around.  We’re on the internet right now.  I realized I can’t do much to help the Arab Spring, but I can pay attention, spread around information, and encourage those who fight the good fight.  If anyone knows of something else I can do, please tell me.

I emerged from my day of sewing, shocked at how the time passed.  I am energized and drained at the same time.  I couldn’t share my pocket without sharing the meditations.  I think the lower pockets make my hips look wide, but I like the pockets more than I’m worried about looking hippy.

By the way, thanks to Peterfor giving me a name for the thing my brain does when I’m allowed to immerse myself in my work.  I never knew it was a thing, I just assumed that’s how everyone does it.  It’s why I value my stay-cations so highly.


  1. Yes I did sew the wrong collar piece, but it's all corrected now! Sorry, I hope this doesn't mean any unpicking for you :(Great post! Evil triumphs when good men do nothing – this is something I like to remind myself when we see some of our current freedoms stealthily being eroded by groups with alternative agendas.

  2. How to manage the sufferings of ourselves, and the suffering of others – so hard to do. A beginning point is to acknowledge with gratitude both the opportunities and freedoms we experience and largely take for granted.

  3. Along with being avid sewing enthusiast I am a political/news fanatic. I was always fascinated, but after working with legislators regarding laws affecting my profession, I am ever mindful of finding the facts. Not an easy thing to do. I listen to the right and the left, US, PBS and BBC news. (I very much dislike the use of adjectives and adverbs of newscasts!) And I look up and read pending legislation and present laws before making up my mind. Absolute power corrupts and giving up my power through ignorance is not an option for me anymore. Keeping informed is not, nor has it ever been, an easy thing to do. Getting the facts for events happening around the world, especially in countries that do not have the liberties we have, seems impossible. My hope is that the internet will highlight human rights by showing what is possible and therefore improve upon freedoms that every citizen of the world deserves. What an ominous yet hopeful time we live in!

  4. Love this post. And the pocket.Also love your FANTASTIC comment re shorts in the workplace! I laughed right out loud… in the workplace. Oops! Well, it was lunchtime…

  5. I read Righteous Indignation by Andrew Breitbart on Saturday. It was fascinating to read an insider's view of the new digital media. He made many of the same observations that you have about the game changer that the internet is for news consumption. If you can't get it in Australia, I will mail you a copy if you like.

  6. Love the fabric! And the pattern! And I am ridiculously amused by the long, thoughtful post, ending with a bit of musing on how the jacket actually looks on you. The juxtaposition is fabulous.

  7. Pingback: The Germans Wore Gray, You Wore Blue « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

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