It’s been one of those weeks where I need to stop, take a breath and reaffirm what’s good in the world. Louisiana…I’m getting quite sick of gun violence and those rifle-waving arseholes who cower behind first amendment rights as if they’re God given. I’m pretty sure God—any benevolent God—doesn’t condone us killing each other. It’s even in the Christian commandments. Tools that make killing so efficient should therefore be avoided, one would think. If you live in a rural area and are under constant threat of wild animal attacks, then you certainly can—and should—have a firearm to defend yourself. If you live in a major metropolitan area, there’s no reason why you need an assault rifle. Unless you plan on hunting people, in which case we need laws that at least slow/ deter you from laying hands on a gun. Apparently, John Russell (the shooter in Louisiana) purchased his handgun legally—which should tell people in either gun-control camp that the current system of regulation and legislation has definite flaws. That’s all reasonable people want: to tighten the system, to minimize risk. Right now, the U.S. stands just behind the cartel-controlled South American countries in terms of gun deaths, and the gap between the U.S. and other developed countries is massive. No one wants to strip a person’s family of needed protection against terrorists, aliens, rampaging bears, or criminals. (On that point, yes, criminals will still get their guns “under the table”—gun control won’t change that.) We just want less people being shot. Period. But we’re not here to drown ourselves in talk of gun violence, there’s enough of that discussion embroiling my troubled neighbors to the south. I’m sending them my love and spiritual-support and I hope that at last some genuine steps toward the healing and resolution of this ancient wound can be made, and not the usual cycle of shooting > prayer vigil > ultimately meaningless chatter > next shooting. Today, I’m dealing with a more intimate sadness. I’m off to a funeral today—the first one since my mother’s.
It’s certainly a strange feeling, though in moments like this (and regarding common-sense gun laws), we have to remind ourselves that our feelings aren’t the primary need to serve. I don’t know the woman who passed—from cancer. Her daughter is a friend/ co-worker of my partner. I don’t know anything about the departed at all, really. That said, I plan on learning all that I can about the departed’s life while I’m at the visitation. Because she had a life. Possibly a rich and full one, with love and pain, triumph and failure. I’m sure that she had a life worthy of my reflection and pause, a moment to think of something other than events that occur within my ecosystem. That’s part of humanity and philanthropy: looking outside instead of within. And it’s a skill that we have to practice, especially in today’s world where we’re so laser-focused on our phones, our Facebook and our often shallow, one-sided social media gasps into the void.
We should pause to look outside of ourselves not only when tragedy occurs, rather as life continues its ceaseless, elegant dance all around us. This morning, I took joy in the exertion of my body (push-ups—nothing saucy); in the pleasure of petting my oh-so-silky cat, Zeus; in the feel of warm water on my skin in the shower. I don’t know what comes after this: the Great Mystery, as I refer it in my mythology. I do know what we have here, now: this breath, this beat, this song in our bodies that is life. I know how brittle a glass that wonder is, and how easily it’s broken. I also know what it feels like to be in the presence of life when it leaves for the Great Mystery. I was there with my mother when her soul, her energy, flew elsewhere. I am married to the survivor of a car-crash who was clinically dead for a short time. Life is the most precious gift we are given. As precious as a child. It’s in infants that we see the purity and spark of this force most clearly. I believe that’s why the loss of a young one is so shattering to our psyches, because it’s more than just a passing—it’s poetic, it’s metaphysically wounding.
If only we remembered, and heeded the grace of life more often, we’d not be so bent on harming each other with guns, or knives, or even words. Cancer is a far more sinister force than any of those weapons. Truly, life has enough troubles for us to overcome without the complications of humans hunting humans. Today then, I’ll be drinking in every shimmer of sunlight, every mote of dust glimmering in the air, every soft breath, every tear and every laugh (especially those). Today, I shall honor life. I shall enshrine it in my heart. I shall cherish the miracles that those who died in Louisiana, and the dear lady who rests in her casket, can no longer.
All my love,
P.S. In less bitter-sweet tidings, Feast of Dreams releases in all formats on July 31st.