All of Us
It has been one week since the Boston Marathon. At 2:50 today our law school observed a moment of silence. The memorial on Boylston is growing still. There was a funeral today. There are a few patients who remain in critical condition. The suspect was formally charged with two federal offenses, one of which is punishable by the death penalty.
All of the above is enough to evoke emotion in anyone. But someone said something that really resonated with me and made me think. With the range of emotional reactions this week’s events have provoked (some went out and got drunk and rowdy in the name of Boston and some sat glued to the TV, making mournful Facebook updates every hour) when do our reactions stop being about Boston and start just being about us and our past pain and our unresolved issues? I think rarely can we experience tragedy without reliving past tragedy. Personally, I could come up with a list of experience, memories and fears that are triggered when I am under stress or experience sadness. That is not to say I wasn’t simply sad because of the week’s craziness. I actually hopped off the Blue Line in a moment of panic on Tuesday so I could assure myself that riding on the T was safe. I know that deep anxiety had more to do with Monday than anything from my childhood. But emotions are complex. And the hurt we see on the news today so easily brings up hurt from long ago.
Once my dog hurt his paw really bad and needed a toe amputated. My dad, who had an extremely rough childhood, slept on the floor next to the dog bed the first three days after the dog’s surgery. Some of it was about the dog. Some of it wasn’t. Maybe we can reflect on people we’ve lost before or other losses that seem to underlie our reactions today because a lot of sad things happen in a lifetime. I know personally the more I let them build up, the more I convince myself my spirit and my feelings are one in the same. But that’s not true. When I feel weak, I know my spirit is still strong. When I feel inconsolable, my spirit is still telling me to console others. When I am angry, my spirit is still calm. The more I let my feelings consume me, I forget that who I am and how I act can be two very, very different things.
I ran along the ocean today, and I remembered one of my favorite quotes:
“The cure for anything is salt water– sweat, tears, or the sea.”