Mass shootings occur so frequently in this country; I could spend my whole writerly life here responding to each in grief and sorrow. In August alone, 51 people died in mass shootings in the United States.
This past weekend’s massacre was chilling yet again. The blatant, random spree of violence brought immediate tears to my eyes. We are all in danger, some of us more than others. And we all live in fear. And we – well the vast majority of us – are seething with justifiable rage. How could we not?
We cannot go to the grocery store, or a place of worship, or a school, or a concert, or a movie theater, or the mall – we can’t even walk down the freaking sidewalk – in peace. Our lives are too routinely disrupted by violence and the real, persistent threat of it. Our communal life, therefore, is distorted, with the threads that connect us to each other fraying. How could they not?
* * *
Jack and I are now in California, in the glow of what feels like a totally new life. We have traded the lull of familiarity for the discomfort of a radically different environment, graying skies for clear, bright, blue ones. We have spent the last week engrossed in detail. At times, such attentiveness has manifested itself in an exacting ability to notice potential problems like water damage or signs of structural instability or constant highway traffic noise. But more often than not, this clarity has birthed strengthened presence for us. We are noticing more, marveling more, celebrating goodness more, giving thanks more.
New places remind me of how the world is always vast and always particular. Everywhere, there is suffering, and there is love. Everywhere, there is pain, and there is beauty. In broad strokes and in each life.
Anywhere, everywhere, there are people who ache, and people who heal. People who laugh, and people who grieve. People who love, and people who are lonely. People with homes, and people without them. People celebrating their child returning to school. People gathering, and people leaving. People contemplating a big change, and people starting again. People waking up, deciding what to do with the day in front of them. And so much more.
* * *
There’s no denying that the world is a brutal place to live, scary in what can come apart and awesome, beautiful in what it can evoke in us.
May you be safe today, wherever you are. May you be happy and healthy. May you live with less defense and greater ease. May you find the beauty stitched in the place you find yourself. May you cherish it, for it is what heals, what soothes, what connects, blessing the ground beneath your feet as you walk.
“It is so easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build.” – Nelson Mandela