December 15, 2012 § 2 Comments
Every once in a while, something happens in the world that makes you want to take you and your loved ones to a remote island, and pretend that the rest of the world doesn’t exit. Today, such a tragedy occurred.
My children are of the age of the many who were murdered in Connecticut today. I was unaware of what was happening while I was at work, thank goodness, and while my children were at their school. As soon as I realized what had happened (blessing and curse of having a Smart Phone), I felt what every parent, grand-parent, aunt and uncle, brother and sister, felt: Nausea, fear, grief, anger, and loss.
As I wrestled with these feelings, tears welled in my eyes, and all I could think, was “This could happen anywhere.” My children sang happily in the back seat of my car as I tried my best to act as I always do, but I really felt a deep sadness, and dread, and fear.
“Those could have been my kids.”
“If that ever happened to us …”
We all have our own things we turn to at these times to help us make sense of what happened. Some turn to prayer. I turned to my practice.
As my anger toward the individual who robbed us all of our sense of security rose; as my grief for the loss of all those young lives rose; as my terror of the world around us rose; I looked at what was going on in my head. “Stories,” I mumbled to myself as I swept away images of myself waiting nervously to hear if my child was alive or not; “Future, fantasy,” I muttered again as I pictured my daughter’s terrified face at hearing the sounds of bullets ringing through her classroom.
Those are the images that bring us nightmares, fear and anxiety; those are the thoughts that bring us despair for the world around us. They are natural thoughts, but unreliable as they are not grounded in fact — they are our imagination, and best set aside, not given the legs to run around.
Letting those images take us over to cause those feelings of terror is what gives that act of violence power. More power than it deserves to have, power perhaps beyond its original intent. We have the ability to take that power away by casting those thoughts aside.
Letting those images go gives US power to fully indulge in the embrace we give our children when we are done with the commute home. It lets us hear the words of the happy song that they were singing while we were terrifying ourselves … while we let that gunman into our minds.
It lets us understand that we need to love each other now, hold each other now, enjoy everything that is right now. Because now is the only thing that is certain. And while on the one hand that may sound scary, what could be more secure than that which you can feel and see and hear?
“Sherrrrrrrrry, Sherry baby …” followed by giggles. When perceived with a mind and ears not clouded by thoughts of what might (or might not) be, nothing is more reassuring.