I recently closed my retail shop I had for four years, and tomorrow I leave for the start of a travel adventure. And I should be excited, but I’m scared. Melancholy even. On Thursday in Louisiana there was a shooting in a movie theater, and two young women were killed. I didn’t know them, but I know they were bright, pretty, talented, loving, and trying to be good people. I know people who knew them. I know that they had mothers, fathers, lovers and friends. I know that it could have been me.
I am a cinephile, and have been known to go to the movies as often as twice a week regularly. Often times, I’ve seen every movie out. I also go alone, and sometimes no one even knows where i am. I am single, and live alone. I do my own thing, and fill my time with cultural interests: movies, books, art openings, live music, eating out, and travel… travel is perhaps the most dangerous of those pursuits. We’ve all heard the stories. And to top things off, my first destination is Mexico. Mexico? Alone. So, should i not go? Because I might get kidnapped. Should I not go to the movies because I might get shot by a deranged fellow human? I can’t make sense of this. No one can. But I know that trying to make sense of it is a sign of our humanity. The active search for meaning, is what gives us meaning, is what saves us from the darkness in little doses, everyday. Nothing can make sense of that gunman, and nothing can bring those women back into this world. But if there’s any chance they didn’t die in vain, it’s held up by all the people who try as they might to make sense, and to hug and hold close their fellow human who is trying to make sense.
I didn’t know those women, but I know they were warriors for good. I don’t know how to make sense of a theater shooting, or a school shooting, or a church shooting. But I also don’t want to feed the monster of fear that’s hiding under the bed.
I have been criticized lately for being “too emotional”. And perhaps I am at times. Perhaps it’s all just “too much”, but to reject the emotions of the good people around us is to shame them for the humanity that makes them warriors for good - on the constant search for meaning, which redeems us all.
My friend Margaret confided in me yesterday, and as she cried on my shoulder, she said “I’m sorry.” I said “Don’t be sorry. I can handle it.” Just 6 weeks ago I cried in a ball on my bed and it was Margaret who petted my head. She could handle it. We grieve. We cry. We can handle it.
I don’t know how to live this life. I don’t know how to prevent tragedy. But I do know that I refuse to be shamed into apathy. I am scared to travel. I am scared to go to the movies. I’m scared of the evil in this world. I know that no life is worth more than another. But I have been thinking less and less and less about getting married and having children, to reduce the wake of heartbreak in the world if and when I lose the fight for good. But because I banish fear. Because I refuse to feed the fear monster hiding under the bed… Tonight I’m going to pack my suitcase, call my mom, and then go out into the world as a warrior for good. And if tragedy strikes me, don’t let it be in vain. Hug those who are grieving and tell them you can handle it. And until my days are done (may there be oh so many more ahead) I will try to live this life without shame, without fear, searching for meaning… because that is how we slowly tip the scales.