Something terrible happened this morning in the small community of Newtown, Connecticut. I don’t need to recount the specific details; you know what went down. My initial Facebook comments were – like those of so many others – reactionary and vitriolic. Although I don’t have children myself, I was no less moved by the plight of the families in this unfortunate New England town. The fact that this happened to elementary school students by an apparent stranger, as opposed to the peer-on-peer violence that is, alas, more commonplace, makes this tragedy seem so much more heart-wrenching than Columbine, or Virginia Tech, or….
Enough. We don’t know all the facts yet, and when you consider that both the suspect and his own mother (who supposedly purchased the guns herself) are dead, we probably never will.
Although I managed to avoid most news websites for the majority of the day, I nevertheless needed to clear my head, so I met Pamela at the local multiplex for an opening night showing of “The Hobbit.” The movie was great, especially the second half, and was just what I needed. Any violence depicted in the film was done by sword, not by gun, and was in a hyper-stylized fantasy setting anyway. The movie ended, Pamela and I went our separate ways for the night, and that was that.
Except it wasn’t.
I read more Facebook responses to the day’s events and then went to CNN.com, where a video was posted of Obama’s teary-eyed speech to the nation. Perhaps it’s just a case of the holiday blues for me, but the video – and the subsequent spamming of the media with it – really hit me hard.
How do you cope with life’s random (or deliberate) acts of bullshittery that seem to come at you faster than you’re really prepared to emotionally deal with them? How can you just sit back as bad shit happens to good (or at least undeserving) people, knowing that it (often) is only a matter of time before it happens again? Of course I’m talking about the school shootings, but I’m talking about other things as well. For example, someone makes her final car payment and then gets in an accident the very next day, totaling the vehicle. Someone completely changes her diet in an effort to lose weight and eat healthier, yet is diagnosed with cancer one month later. Someone works 10+ years for one company, then loses his pension with no apology or recompense after the owner sells the company to its competition and leaves golden parachutes for no one but himself. Hearing these stories – which have all happened to people I know and care about – really hurts my heart.
Yeah, life can really suck sometimes. It is all relative, to be certain. A childless couple who loses their pet of 12 years has every right to be as grief-stricken as, say, a father of three who lost his youngest in the Newtown shootings. The fatal heart attack of a 400-pound man is as unfortunate as the sudden aneurysm suffered by an über-fit marathon runner. But we don’t always see it is being relative, do we? I am guilty of this myself. As I mentioned earlier, the fact that today’s victims were young children, not teenagers, left me feeling especially sad.
I hope no one is offended by what I’ve written, or accuses me of being an “opportunist” for using such a moment to blog about my own bullshit. I don’t make any money off this blog, but I suppose I use it – in much the same way as I used tonight’s movie screening – as a coping mechanism as well. For me, writing is therapy. (And if you’ve read some of my ridiculously-long blog entries of the past weeks, you may guess that I need a lot of therapy.) 🙂 If this were the mid-nineties I might call writing “chicken soup for the soul,” (with apologies to authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen).
I promise that my next blog entry will be cheerier (and I still have more holiday season travel memories to share with you, Loyal Reader). In the meantime, please, please, please take a moment to comment below about how you deal with bad times and emotional distress. While I am not a psychologist, I am curious. And I’m sure others are as well.