This was my mantra in today's yoga class. It was a tiny reminder to stay in the present moment, the only moment of which we have any control at all.
Or do we?
If you're as emotionally exhausted as I am, maybe you don't want to read anything else about the elementary school shootings in Connecticut anymore. Then again, if you know anything about the commentary on this blog, you'll know that I'm always seeking lessons, compassion and love in every situation. I hope to step outside of the utter rage, gut-wrenching sadness and helplessness we all feel.
No matter what I do, I can't help but feel the heaviness of the world. I've mentioned it before. When I feel something, it is felt deep to my core.
Upon hearing yesterday's news, I couldn't stop crying. The strangest part of all is that I felt the heaviness starting from the night before. I couldn't shake the sadness of, "What if something happened to my children?" as I tried to fall asleep that night.
In my despair yesterday morning, I reached out to GJ. I knew he was away from a computer, radio or TV and may not have heard the news. When I heard his voice, I knew that he'd just found out.
I also know him. He will do whatever it takes NOT to feel the low that I felt. It pains him too much so he redirects his attention. He started to suggest that I redirect too but then stopped himself.
"I know you. I know that you feel the world's pain. You are the most connected person I know. I also know that you know how to take care of yourself so I'm not going to tell you to try to feel better. You know what you need to do. I sometimes wonder, though, if you enjoy feeling the hurt. Maybe it makes you feel more alive."
I don't enjoy feeling like my heart has been shredded, no. But I do know that if I can process it, it will release. Otherwise, it grips me no matter what I do... and it'll show up elsewhere unless I address it head on.
Gun Control. People Control.
You know there's a suicide hotline, right? It's a place for people to call when they feel grief, frustration, rage, depression, abandoned and isolated. There are counselors there to listen and help. Attempting suicide is illegal. Did you know that?
I think that people want to take other lives for the same reasons they want to commit suicide. As a matter of fact, many will commit suicide after committing homicide. But there is no phone number for someone to call when they are considering homicide. And it's illegal too.
I heard countless psychologists talk about a "profile" of someone who would do the heinous act that took place yesterday. The "profile" fits most people. We've all had these feelings of rage or isolation, depression or anxiety, frustration or abandonment. Many of us aren't going to act on them. Or maybe we do, in our own passive aggressive ways. Cutting someone off in traffic. Stealing a parking spot. Looking the other way when someone needs help. Yelling at our kids. Refusing kindness because we feel like it's not been offered to us.
Some, however, will take the act even further because there has been no one who understands, no one who will listen, no one who will offer love that they recognize.
Haven't we all felt that way? Yet we make it so taboo to talk about those feelings, to admit to them, to empathize with someone else who feels them. Don't we all need a "rage hotline" sometimes?
Does this mean that we need to have stricter gun laws? I'm not sure. What I do know is when something is highly regulated or prohibited altogether, that doesn't mean it will stop anything. Ever heard of Prohibition? The War on Drugs?
Sadly, just as the shooter forced his way into the school yesterday, if someone wants something badly enough, they will find a way.
Case and point: The shooter's mother collected guns and they were easily accessible to him.... especially after he killed her.
Do we need to do some deep analysis on gun control and our mental health system together? I definitely think so.
Is it naive of me to wonder if we should notice the "loner", the one who's not like the others, the one who seems a bit off...? Like the stranger who reminded me to notice the homeless man at the train station. Maybe if we could see the Being in that person, a single ripple effect could change some things?
This is why A Course in Miracles says "every encounter is a holy encounter". Every encounter with another person offers us the chance to see the good in them, beyond the facade of our skin, clothing, or human actions. Every encounter affects you and the person you encounter. What are you leaving that person with? Love? Or a validation of their unworthiness?
As a mother, my heart cannot bear the thoughts that I've had the past 24 hours. I can't imagine being a parent who sent their child to school - THEY SENT THEIR CHILD TO SCHOOL - such a normal every day thing.... only to have them not return. To have holidays...with presents left unopened.
My body carries the devastation of the families whose loved ones put their lives in front of the children's lives and made the sacrifice to save one, or more, little babies.... but lost.
I can't imagine having the job of being a first responder. Witnessing the devastation. As an EMT or coroner... what they must have seen! I can't imagine the helplessness of the teachers, the other students, the parents, the families, the school staff, the police, the hospitals, the town, the state... all of it... just too much. Oh God, it hurts me so badly.
But stepping back, I have to remind myself that we are all souls - ageless. Our spirits aren't children or young adults or humans who've lived any length of time. We are the same. We've felt the innocence of childhood and the madness of someone who can hurt.
I have to look at it all and find the angels among us. I have to see the good, the coming together, the compassion, the love, the chance to try again.
Or I can see that there are more angels to look over us, all of us, reminding us that maybe we can do something different next time.
Maybe we can remember what we can control, in all of this.