Talk of bombs
rubs his wedding band
In the lightning flash
my phone on the desk
no missed calls
discovers her hands
In a shoebox
Under a sweater pile
my adoption papers
Near Dad’s garage sale
at a stop sign
This isn’t just a story about gun control. This isn’t just a story about security at elementary schools, violent video games, or access to mental health facilities.
This is a story about hearts. Our hearts. Our big, red, forever-beating hearts.
Upon hearing the news of the elementary school shootings in Newtown, a lot of people felt heartsick. They longed to hold their own children — run their fingers through their daughter’s hair, rub their son’s back. We all cast prayers and sincere messages of sympathy out to the victims and their families. To friends, to strangers. Anyone could feel this; everyone could feel this.
In many ways, this tragic event called us to check in with ourselves and what’s around us. Based on our reactions to Friday’s events, it is clear that we’re very much in touch with our heads, with our capability to create logical, reason-based ideas for how we can affect change and possibly prevent these types of tragedies in the future. Fewer guns. More laws. Less violence in the media. Tighter security. New leaders in office. We should ask for these things. We should stand up for our beliefs, lobby for them. I will gladly sign a petition, light a candle, and cast a ballot for those qualified enough to reform policies that are outdated, irrelevant or just not good enough. I am with you.
While we work to make these changes, though, I fully believe that we also need to make regular and genuine efforts to check in with our hearts. This is where we need the most help as people, as a culture, and this is the best example we can set for kids. By pausing to check in, to be constantly curious about how we’re feeling – to really burrow deep into our hearts, into those tiny crevices where anger and pain dwell – we show others that they can too, that it’s not that scary. Maybe if we do this, we’ll feel okay with it all and know when to reach out to ask for help. What we may then find is that by being in touch with our anger or pain or sadness or discomfort, our kids will learn how to as well. They can then grow up knowing how to search for, feel, and deal with these emotions in ways that don’t put others lives at risk.
We’re all very practiced at using our heads to solve problems. As humans, though, our hearts make up a lot of who we are. We can’t neglect them. By checking in and learning what upsets us, saddens us, and makes us angry, we become more whole, more accepting, and more compassionate. This is my wish for all of us: reach in, then reach out. Yearn to understand how you’re feeling so that others can learn how they’re feeling. After all, we’re all fragile. Let’s come to accept that and start working on how we can be more fragile together.
…quite simply, I was in love with New York. I do not mean ‘love’ in any colloquial way, I mean that I was in love with the city, the way you love the first person who ever touches you and you never love anyone quite that way again. I remember walking across Sixty-second Street one twilight that first spring, or the second spring, they were all alike for a while. I was late to meet someone but I stopped at Lexington Avenue and bought a peach and stood on the corner eating it and knew that I had come out out of the West and reached the mirage. I could taste the peach and feel the soft air blowing from a subway grating on my legs and I could smell lilac and garbage and expensive perfume and I knew that it would cost something sooner or later — because I did not belong there, did not come from there.