S uch a complicated unfolding… Having eavesdropped on the as-it-happens information (note, my intentional avoidance of the word “news”) since last night’s events started crossing my Twitter stream. I unplugged to try to fall asleep and then saw a note online from a dear friend on Twitter. She lives in Vermont and is getting ready to move to Boston, and she was awake late with her baby, her husband and the baby’s little big brother asleep, her eyes on the updates coming across her cell phone screen. I sent her love, via text message, and warm thoughts, and that’s what we do, in this world where the people we care about may be in bed next to us; seven blocks down the street; or 3,006.4 driving miles across the country, and then turned off my phone and nestled in to sleep.
Today, there are meetings to have, a puppy to walk in the rain, Beach Boys songs to listen to (thanks, Dan), and errands run, an ear still tuned to the radio while I’m in the car. A voice on the radio earlier today said something about how they’re hearing a high volume of complaints from listeners for saying anything “nice” about the suspects who were identified in the last day. I guess I can see that, as a reaction people might have. But there’s a part of me that finds a strange comfort in hearing about what a charming, friendly, “normal” person at least one of the suspects is (or was, it remains to be seen). Somehow, those descriptions make me think that it’ll be a little harder to marginalize the suspect as wholly other (although there’s already plenty of that going on, as well).
The other night, after the initial mayhem began in Boston, Ryan and I were talking over dinner and the topic of how difficult it would be to talk about a day like that with kids would be. I honestly don’t know what I’d say. I do think I’d be strongly tempted to avoid speaking in terms of “bad guys,” even though that’s the obvious and most easy to spit out explanation: that there are some bad people in the world, who do bad things sometimes, and …… what next? What would be the stock explanation, after that? I don’t know. It’s a gross simplification, and perhaps it’s true, but I’m not comfortable with the phrase “bad guys,” or “bad man,” or “bad people.” Having the benefit of not actually being in the position, since there are no kids around to actually ask me about a day like that, I think I’d say something more along the lines of “sometimes bad things happen…” but then, what next?
How do you reassure a kid, when bad things happen? I heard a blip on the radio about an upcoming program that would address that exact question, and the first tip in the teaser was turn off the television. The expert said that to a little kid, watching scary things on the television news, they don’t get that it’s not happening over and over — that it happened once, and is being replayed. I think that might not just apply to kids. It might apply to some of us grown-ups, too, in a way, to keep the trauma we’ve witnessed thanks to various forms of media fresher, longer. I’m still sheltering myself from visual media about the week’s events in Boston (and Texas) and have no plans to change that. I can avoid televisions, with their endless replays and voiceovers. I can read short text-based messages on Twitter and avoid photographs. I can click through carefully to news sites and close browser windows if I suspect there may be an image I don’t want to have burned into my memory. And to the people who say that it’s important to be informed — the way I see it, we won’t even have information until a preliminary investigation is complete. Right now, we have stories. Witness accounts. Speculation. Conjecture. And by tuning out the outside messages and focusing on what’s more closely held, I can know that my peeps are accounted for, and my thoughts turn to sorrow for the lives lost — all of them — and then to how I can live in a way that promotes peace and avoids harm. To what I can do to love as wholly as possible and live as fully as possible, without regret.
Take care, all. Have a love-filled weekend, please. I plan to do the same. How are you living well, today? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.