Every time I post, Blogger is kind enough to let me know how many unique visitors view each post. I sometimes feel like I'm writing in a void, because I receive so many visitors but leave no feedback. I love hearing from you, but not in a narcissistic way. Did I write something that made you think, change your perspective, piss you off, or make you feel hope? Reading your comments turns this into a conversation. I want my perspective changed. If you've ever met me in real life, you know I love conversation. This is a way for me to communicate, but right now it's one way. I don't want that. Please leave a comment.
I think bribery is best. I have a $10 gift card to www.etsy.com WAITING for one lucky somebody, but you have to do two things.
1) You must click the "Follow" button on the right. I won't email you or bug you in any way. It's a way for me to attach a face or personality to your words.
2) You must leave a comment about a previous post.
Do this by Friday, December 21, 2012 at 8 pm, and you're in the running.
Thank you so much!
It’s only Monday. I really wanted to stay in bed today, or more accurately, just not take Alexandria to school. I wanted to keep my little family close by to do crafts, sing, or lie about on the floor. Maybe talk about Santa. I need giggles and to not be on a schedule. But we went through the rigamaroll of the morning and I was happysad when we got to Alexandria’s classroom. We had to knock on the door. It’s now locked at all times. Fear of the unknown is holding all of us hostage.
I felt a little better yesterday, though. I did some Christmas shopping. My spirits lifted seeing so many people smiling. I went to Barnes & Noble and bought a book for their holiday book drive and that felt good. I found ways to be joyful and light. It’s the season, after all.
I heard my pastor say, "I’m a fixer." I like fixing problems, too. I want to fix this and I can’t. Nothing I do will undo it. That problem is beyond my capabilities. I'm not hopeless because I can do other things. We can do other things. Sadly, the list of problems facing our towns, states, our nation, and the world, is endless. The thought of confronting all of these issues seem daunting, impossible for one person to tackle. We’re a team, though. Right? Aren’t we all in this together?
I once heard my wise friend tell her child, who was lamenting the absence of a snack while in the car, “Remember that feeling. That’s hunger. Some children feel that all day long. You’re getting a snack when we stop. But be grateful.” Any and every child can understand the sadness of hunger. Every child can work to end that.
I came up with an idea last night that Dave and I are entertaining. Since our kids are old enough to understand the necessity of giving, I thought, “Let’s make it a family affair.” I suggested that we make only one resolution for next year. I suggested that we, as a family, agree on a cause and commit time to that cause one weekend day per month. Alexandria suggested that all children should have pajamas. I agree. Every kid needs pajamas.
Instead of focusing on what we can’t fix, let’s fix the things that we can. Here are some simple steps:
- Choose your problem. Hungry kids in Africa or clean drinking water for everyone? Eyeglasses for everyone, shoes, coats, dental care, band-aids, access to birth control, adopting shelter pets, supporting foster parents, treatment for the mentally ill, backpacks for schoolchildren, soccer balls, trash-free streets, parks, and beaches? Pick one.
- Choose how to give. Your options are time, money, or goods. Can you drive your neighbor to dialysis? Do it. Can you read books to the elderly or the blind? You bet. So can your teenager! Can you have a summer garage sale and donate the proceeds? Yes. You can.
- Commit. Write it on the calendar or put it in your phone. Accept no excuses, including your own. Despite what we’d love to believe, we all have extra time. Turn of MSNBC, FOX, and CNN. Shut down the X-box. Get off the computer or phone and get out. Take your teenage boy or girl with you. Take your spouse. Bring a friend or neighbor. Turn giving into a family or neighborhood affair. Build it into your own culture.
That’s it. Veterans need YOU. Children need YOU. Shelter animals need YOU. Parks, recreation areas, beaches, forests, deserts, and lakes need YOU. Displaced peoples around the world need YOU.
If you are out there volunteering, giving, walking, educating, fostering, adopting, or feeding, I want to hear about it. Please leave a comment. I am desperate to know how you are making it better, or how you plan to make it better. Please leave the web address of your favorite charitable organization, as well. I am committing to this. Join me.
So when I heard what happened, one of my first impulses was to get Alexandria out of school. I needed her with me, her body, her safe little person with me. I needed both of my kids close, safe. With me. Dave came into the kitchen and we stood and cried. I sobbed hard. I put on “Caillou” for Marcus, sat close to him on the couch, and began digesting news.
I didn’t go get her. “It will be disruptive,” I thought. “She’s safe.” I knew she was safe because the likelihood of her not being safe was so small. So small. I waited until school ended to get my badly needed hug and then sent her off to a friend’s house.
I lashed out at American politics and sought comfort in wise friends. Friends wrote prayers and sank deep into faith. Other friends got pissed at people who wrote prayers and were vocal about the absence of God. Someone even asked me to not express anything political, to just let people grieve, only to later retract, understanding that we all grieve differently. I found information on how to talk to kids about tragedies and as parents, we agreed to have the worst conversation ever when she got home.
Midway through the afternoon, I began to read an article on the incident. I felt nauseous and turned away. I stumbled onto The Onion and that was it. “Fuck everything” was precisely the perfect sentiment. I couldn't handle any more details. I didn’t want to know anybody’s name, including the bad guy. I didn’t want to see faces or tears or distraught parents. I knew they were there but I didn’t need the images seared into my brain. The images my imagination conjured were fucking horrible enough already. My soul couldn’t handle more.
Alexandria spent the afternoon jumping on a trampoline, exhilarated in the cold autumn air. When she got home, we sat down with her and in very simple, clear language explained what happened. No locations. No ages. Just one bad guy and a LOT of good guys. We love you. Everybody wants to keep you safe. Don’t listen to kids on the playground. Talk to us. “Can I ask a teacher?” “Yes,” we said. She had a support group of trustworthy adults. “Do you have any questions?”
Fuck. “I don’t know.”
It’s OK to not know. Actually, my best answer to “why” is “I don’t know.” Because if I know the answer to this, then I can see into the abyss and I don’t want to see into the abyss. I don’t ever want to know that kind of darkness. Ever.
I struggled to make light and joy. As we pushed through dinner, table topics included “What would you do to make it better for somebody else?” and “What is one problem that you would solve for people in need?” Hope sprang from the table. “Clean drinking water for everyone.” “I’d make sure all kids had gloves.” “I’d make sure that nobody was ever hungry again.” We finished the evening on our couch watching the most hope-filled joy one can find on a TV: “It’s Christmastime, Charlie Brown”. I cried silent tears when Linus begins with, “Lights please.”
A friend asked me a real, pressing, and relevant question. It’s a sentiment that has been echoed throughout the world. “Where was the Lord today?” she asked.
I simply don’t have any answers. Good loses sometimes. Good versus evil is the oldest battle in The Book. “Don’t eat the apple.” Enter snake. *eats apple “Now you’ll see all the evil.” Great. Friends spoke of Spiritual Battle. Holy shit. This is real. Evil is living and breathing among us and it does awful shit. One friend asked God to simply end it all if this is how it was going to go.
I successfully avoided the news for approximately 36 hours. I spoke with loving friends and we talked of fearlessness in the face of this evil. We cried through the horror and utter desperation of the parents. Of little stockings and ungiven gifts from Santa and unknown last kisses and giggles and never more and what the fuck? But still no news.
I went to book group. Again, I avoided the shittiness and discussed drivel (seriously, A Room with A View sucked). I enjoyed a nice coffee with my friend and we chatted for hours of nothing and everything. While driving home and trying to find a freeway on ramp, I flipped through the radio stations searching for something upbeat. And then I heard a stat (which I will not repeat here) that I did not need to hear. Quickly, I pressed the button to change the station but it was too late! No, no, no, no, no fucking no I didn’t want to hear any goddamn thing about it at fucking all no dammit no! I felt the rage course through me and I really tried to clench my knuckles and let it pass but I was not going to get off that easy.
I began to scream. Deep, primal, terrible rage-filled screams filled my mouth and my car and I felt the ancient shared genes of chimpanzees and gorillas and the fury when they bare their teeth and scream loudly and it fills the forest and makes the hair on your neck stand up. I screamed like that and just drove for a while, slightly lost in the green hills and rain. Then I couldn’t scream anymore. My voice stopped. I have more in me but my vocal cords refuse the abuse. I drove the rest of the way home practically catatonic.
I came home to beauty. Dave was setting up an ornament making craft station with the kids. They were eating snacks and giggling. I reminded myself that spending time with my little family is a way to embrace the conquering power of love. We made reindeer out of peanuts and embellished cardboard stars. I put Marcus to bed. We invented derivations of the word “snuggle*”. We sang. We made joy and peace.
But I don’t know where to go from here. What the fuck are we doing as a society that we’ve been relatively complacent about evil ruining the fabric of our souls until something as horrific as this happens? I’ll ask the same question as The Onion. Do we really want to fucking live like this anymore? Do we want our lives to be dictated by fear? I don’t. I don’t ever want to see or hear or feel this ever again. I believe in the power of good. I believe the each of us holds within us infinite good, but are we so busy and bustled and stretched and pulled that we don’t have time to let it out? I mean, fuck. What are we doing with our lives? Why the fuck are we here? WHY ARE YOU HERE? If the first answer out of our mouths is not, “To make it better” then maybe we ought to re-evaluate our lives. Because if it’s not to give water or “Blessing Bags” to homeless people or feed people on days other than Thanksgiving or pick up trash or drive a friend’s kid to school or hug every kid in your kid’s class and learn their names or bring healthy snacks to all the teachers or pay the toll for the folks behind you or walk shelter dogs or make cookies for firemen or any other nice, generous, small, glory-filled act then what the fuck are you doing with this beautiful life that God has handed you? (Please click on the link. Please.)
One light conquers darkness, just one candle, one light bulb, one flashlight. It’s not scary anymore with the lights on. This is the season of lights. Can we turn off the dark news and vacuous reality shows, log off Facebook and Twitter, and instead look into the faces of our family, friends, neighbors, and hell, even strangers, and just be a light?
I don’t know how else to beat this. I mean, fuck.
*snuckle – when snuggling, one party takes advantage of the closeness and begins tickling the other party.
*sneegle – when snuggling, both parties hold each other very, very tight and squeal, “Eeeeee!”