This recent shooting in Texas has me badly rattled. Right before it came the attack in NYC, and people I love the most in the world are in NYC every day. Then this. So many children died. For no reason whatsoever. Little babies having hardly tasted this life, are gone.
Before this year, I used to have a long commute to and from work. Alone in my car for at least two and a half hours every day, I had time to digest the goings on in the world and inside myself. When the Newtown shootings happened, I cried for days. Listening to NPR about Syrian refugees, I washed off all my make up for days. I hated the commute for many reasons and was seriously relieved when it ended. But now, I have no time to mourn the sorrows that keep on coming.
I take a bus to work every day and watch the people who ride with me. What tears are they holding back? I love seeing their eyes, their hands, their faces, their socks and shoes, the grey in their hair, the lipstick they have put on before leaving their various homes. I love that I am able to participate in their lives in this small way. That somehow, we are all together, making this ride every morning to our various jobs and back again when the day ends. But I can’t cry while on the bus. It wouldn’t work.
So I go about my day, doing my job. I work with children and with people who love children. In the innocence that saves us from the high anxiety that we ought to be feeling, we take them out to play and forget to be vigilant. Another day, another shooting, but life goes on, and we cannot afford to be bogged down by each horror perpetrated on strangers we would never have met anyway. The people in front of us, the work we need to do, is more immediately important and there’s hardly time for much else.There’s dinner to be made, friends to talk to, yoga classes.
But underneath, at least for me, the tears are building and sometimes, I am extra tired keeping them down. And sometimes I have no time for the fret and fuss of ordinary life, and sometimes I am so angry with the slow people in line in the supermarket or the person who talks too loudly in the airport. Sometimes, I want to cry so hard I could vomit. But I go about my day as if nothing is bothering me, smiling at people, doing the work I need to do, trying to be as efficient and constructive and thoughtful and helpful as I can be.
This way lies sickness.
Ask me what I wish for….here it is. A place where people gather to mourn about the sorrows that come their way, personal or otherwise. (What’s this “otherwise” anyway? Is it not a personal grief when children are gunned down by a madman?) I wish that we could all take a break from our busy-ness and sit together somewhere and speak what we feel. Not in a workshop setting in the mountains, not in a retreat center by the ocean, not in a circle of strangers come together for a weekend of transformation. But with the people we live with every day – our coworkers, friends, lovers, children. With our neighbors. I wish we could meet and say, I do not understand where the angels who are supposedly protecting little children have disappeared to. Did they forget that they have a charge? Forget to lock the doors? Forget to do their jedi magic and calm the mind that carries the guns? Could they not remember that it is their job to keep our children safe because we have forgotten how? Because we don’t have the power to do so anymore? I’ll tell you what’s eating me these days – the fact that none of us can say that our children are safe. This is the end of the world, truly.
And then, we can make some time to allow ourselves the luxury of a good, long, collective cry.