My coping mechanism is to inundate myself with information. After 9/11, I watched the news nonstop. It was actual news in the days immediately afterward, do you remember? News like in Ireland where the anchors give facts and interview experts and suddenly the world mattered again. We noticed we weren’t immune. Or secure.

Friday morning I woke to posts about Colorado, and read every article I could find. I read a collection of tweets that built from the movie-goers standing in line beforehand to the incomprehensible aftermath. Aftermath. Such a painful word. Heavy and searching. I wish, sometimes, it were easier to love this world. That I could do it without thinking. Without willing myself. There were children in that theater. He held a gun to one of them. Maybe several. I’ve stopped following the story. I can’t bear it.

My dad was military, and had a handgun, and I remember the first time I held it. The surprising weight of it. My arm extended, I closed one eye and tried to imagine pulling the trigger. But there’s nothing. I see nothing. My arm extended, the sight, and nothing. I hate guns. I hate them. I fought with my ex about them all the time. The awful beauty of his Enfield rifles. The bayonets. Even the idea of those weapons is sharp. Could you drive that metal into another person? Could you? Why, brother? Why?

Whatever spark is inside us, whatever spark, it deserves beauty. Wonder. It deserves the river rushing past, the salt spray, the leaves on grass. It deserves flitting insects and that strange shaggy creature on the horizon. It deserves the enthusiasm of our neighbors. Of art in the darkness. Of a story told to cameras. That spark deserves nurturing. What have we done? What have we done?

I need to set this down. I need to rest. My arms are tired. My heart so open even the fractures are doorways. I love you. Out there in the world. I love you. Don’t despair. Don’t despair. I love you. You are not alone.

1 thought on “Inundated”

  1. It was the same for me: continuous submersion in 9/11 news. I stopped watching and reading about the Aurora news after I heard the story of the man who left his girlfriend, her four-year-old daughter and a baby in the theatre and ran, only to propose to her when reunited in the hospital. She said yes.
    I can’t understand that at all. I hope there are facts about it that the news didn’t know and couldn’t tell us. Was the baby ripped from his arms? We don’t know. Did he have his girlfriend’s hand while she held the baby? Then who had the four-year-old? I can’t understand this, and so I left the news alone, and I only think about the ones who didn’t escape or get lucky. I think about their families.
    Like the survivors and the officials in Aurora, I refuse to mention the shooter’s name or think about him. I don’t care what terrible demons or accidents of birth or circumstance were his causes.
    I think about the dead, the injured and so many suffering families. My heart can handle the easy compassion, but it seems no longer open to the hard road to understanding.

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