on meaning and motivation

today we went into the reservation and saw the tribal museum, then toured the ceremonial grounds and saw the site of the village where our consultant grew up. L and i sat in on three language classes at the high school. it was amazing and a little overwhelming, and a little discouraging. this language is going to die, we can't stop it. nobody can stop it. the classes won't really help; some kids will learn some words, later they will probably forget them, and people will grow up and move on and everything will be lost. this is not pessimism, this is realism.

so where is the meaning in my work? certainly it is personally rewarding, on an intellectual and experiential level. but this program leaves no space for fun challenges, everything must have a point. must have a logical conclusion. so do i move forward, flattering myself that i am preserving something of human knowledge, something valuable? do i adopt a view of myself as some savior of culture? i'm no savior, not of culture, not of anything. or do i approach it as a puzzle box to be unlocked and once it's open i walk away? that doesn't feel quite right either.

i suppose i just disengage from questions of meaning and do the work. and help the community when i can. neither savior nor ivory tower scholar, but something in the middle. something sustainable. it's interesting to me that i chose to involve myself in an impossible task. i, who needs to see myself as capable of anything.