Thursday, April 18, 2013

Because It's Not My Tragedy

crime scene, police tape, tragedy, death, violenceby Lyndsey Graves

I am suspicious of people who know what to think.

They knew the answers long before we asked the questions – Why?  How? – or else they aren’t thinking at all, at least not about anyone but themselves.

Even now, I wonder what I could possibly add to this conversation; especially since this post won’t go out until a few days after Boston, and you will wonder why OPT is harping on about this while everyone else has moved on.

Like everyone else I’ve talked to, I struggled at first, trying to feel sad, and then realized I can’t; I am only a little shocked, and afraid, and ashamed that I don’t pray more often for those who live their lives shocked and afraid every day in other regions of the world. And I’m angry. That’s the thing about terrorism, isn’t it? Disease and tragedy and disaster happen to people all the time, and someone chooses to add to the chaos. Now suddenly people can’t run a foot race on a minor holiday?

Yesterday also marked one month since the death of an 18-year-old whose family I am close to.

I know what I feel, but I don’t know what to think.

Predictably, now that I’m at a loss, the only thing springing up to fill the void is the post I was already intending to write. I was going to write about all the profound implications of this stupid phrase that’s been bouncing around long enough to be on its way out, and now I can’t decide if it’s glib or callous or flippant to say,

you only live once.

That’s all I’ve got. You live once; you spend some finite number of evenings with your family. You do your thing. You give and take. And then you’re done, and you didn’t see it coming.

Maybe the hardest part about other people’s tragedy, what’s so unnerving about the things you didn’t expect, is that there’s nothing tangible to do when all you want is to act, make, go, fight the evil you’ve encountered. Maybe that’s why people spout ignorant and pious and insensitive things on Facebook. I don’t know.

I never know what to think, but I’m learning what to do. I turn off all the news; I don’t need the details. I turn off the computer; I don’t need acquaintances’ opinions. I sit in silence for the victims and plead with God for mercy.

bread, resurrection, love, peace, calm, loaf of breadFor a couple of days I’ll make bread or something, I’ll go outside in the rain, and for the love of God I’ll hold that much tighter to the people I’m with, because it will be following me around – you only live once. Try to do it on purpose. you only live once. And you’re not in control. you only live once. Sometimes it means you quit wasting time and get your shit together and help some people, or that you go to school like you always meant to. And sometimes, it means you throw your philosophical questions about hedonism to the wind and just enjoy some things before “too late” shows up.

For me, it always means I stop scrolling through the feed and my uncharitable interpretations of it. I stop imagining I have to know what to feel or think just because everyone else seems to. I start living, a little more here and a little more now, because I already have everything precious. And I look a little harder for resurrection where it’s happening, and cheer and cheer and work to help it on, because somehow in the midst of tragedy, I believe – look, I’ve seen it – people can and will live again, and they are the ones who’ll YOLO best.

Lyndsey lives and works in Syracuse, NY. She majored in theology at Lee University, which is like eating cake or listening to thunderstorms - too enjoyable to be called work. Also, no one will pay you to do it. You can follow her on Twitter @lyndseygraves and you can find more of her writing at her blog To Be Honest.

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