I felt it coming on since the weekend … agitation, sadness, a tightening in the solar plexus. I couldn’t figure out why, so I just let it be. Everything was fine. This too shall pass, I told myself. But in the ensuing days I could feel it taking over … a feeling of being wrung out like a sponge, of wanting to find the entrance to a cave … to go inside and go deeper into the darkness than I ever have before, so that I could simply feel safe.
There was a spat with my dear husband Tuesday afternoon. A simple misunderstanding sent both of us reeling to interior places, where animal instincts, like fight or flight take over. It had seemed to be a peaceful day … cloudy with a fine mist of rain beginning to freeze on cold surfaces, but otherwise, all was well.
Wednesday, preparing for my day, I noticed a deeper anxiety seeping in. I kept asking myself, what is wrong with me, not realizing that I had felt this way before when life seemed good and I had nothing to feel down about. Then a conversation with a dear friend set me straight and I felt relieved. It was not just me.
She spoke to me of the events of the past weekend in Tuscon and I remembered those past occasions when an unseen negative energy forced it’s way in, filling me with grief. Like after last year’s earthquake in Haiti, after 9/11, after Katrina, after the Oklahoma City bombing, after the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King and too many other tragic events.
I’m a highly sensitive person and it doesn’t take watching much television for me to feel the negative vibrations out in the big world. For years I’ve felt the growing polarization in our great American society. I’ve turned the radio or television off when it’s gotten nasty, but the mood of the country seems to fill the space around me with doom and fear. I feel it in my body. I want to hide from it, but can’t. I seem to have a way of absorbing it.
I’ve been learning how to navigate through it, taking long walks in the crisp cold of winter, lighting a candle at Gratefulness.Org, sending loving kindness to all creatures in the world, even those I disagree with. I write. I try to notice my own behavior when it begins to mirror what is going on around me … when I walk by a certain house in my neighborhood where persons with a differing political stance make it known what they think of our President and his accomplishments. I am learning about my own hate, my own bigotry, my own darkness.
I will not bring more debate to the monstrous act that befell so many innocent lives last weekend in Tuscon. But I pray that last Saturday’s tragic shootings have brought us to a time of healing, of reinventing ourselves … as individuals and as a nation. I pray it will be a time of speaking kindly and with respect for each other, even though we may not agree with the other’s point of view. I pray we will practice deep listening and to speak our truth without doing harm.
I believe that good can arise out of tragedy. I believe we can all find goodness in our neighbors and within ourselves. I pray we will let this time be one of awakening and that we will all rise to the challenges before us with peace, hope and kindness.