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Friday, December 14, 2012

It only takes one headline

to turn a perfectly productive and peaceful day on end. 

I'd gotten online for what... I don't remember. But soon found myself watching online footage of a horror story unfolding. I'd shed a few tears only a few hours earlier over a circulating story of a 4-year-old who had written a letter to God to let him know what her dog looked like so that he would recognize it and take care of it in heaven. I could have allowed myself to dwell on the ways this story was inconsistent with my worldview, but what I chose to focus on was an act of kindness. An act that brought tears to my eyes, no less.

But the news from Connecticut, when I checked back online for some simple something, was an inconsistency I could not see over, around, or past. Children murdered. Ripped from life violently, and too soon. Unsuspecting parents and families and friends forever changed.

And already the shouting was starting. Who or what shall we blame this time?

I forced myself to look away, though already suffering effects of the wound. Any peace of mind or fuzzy warmth I had been feeling about humanity only moments before were already beginning to leak away.

The rhythm of my nature is to exchange periods of active, social participation and interaction with periods of solitude and contemplation. It has taken me years to understand that this is normal (for me) and not a flaw I should try to fix. I don't have to follow up weeks of successful extroversion with continued time forcing myself to be what no longer feels natural. And when I'm tired of spending time with myself, when I realize I'm no longer good company, I stretch my arms and embrace others in a more active way. It's a refilling of my glass, I might explain. It's the way I keep my internal scale balanced.

Today, however, I looked away from the news reports and warned myself, don't let this change what you know.

Despair said to me, "Why bother," and "Just wall yourself off and hide." "All the good you attempt in an entire lifetime will never erase these events, will never make things right in a world that has gone so wrong."

And in a matter of hours, I found myself slogging through a Friday routine I typically find invigorating. Contemplating quitting. Thinking life would be easier if I didn't care or involve myself in anything outside myself at all.

It only takes one headline to turn a perfectly productive and peaceful day on end.

Today, I have wept for children I will never know. The free-flow of my tears are another thing it has taken me years to understand. As well, the way I know I will eventually read every detail, absorb every word of information I can about this unfathomable pain that has been inflicted on so many lives.

And though it will throw my natural rhythm off, I have years of experience that have taught me how to re-find my center and my belief that people have the power to make the world a better place. I am one of them, and you are one of them. Whatever your gift; give it.

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers--so many caring people in this world." -- Mister Rogers

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