April 17th, 2013
Over the past few hours, Boston has been on a broken roller-coaster. What was a terrorist bombing Monday became yesterday’s stories of loss, condition, and compassion. Yet this afternoon reminded us here that despite the world’s sentimentalism and exhaustion, the ride is still going bat-shit crazy and we’re all still aboard. The headlines and stories were dropping one after another: suspect in custody; poisoned letter sent to White House; bomb threat; courthouse evacuation; abandoned car; hospital evacuation; suspect not in custody; fire on subway tracks; suspicious package tossed onto the Red Line. The threat hasn’t stopped. The media is waving speculation as though taunting starving dogs with a bone; if they calmed the fuck down that would be their greatest contribution right now.
People on the ground have to go on. Today while driving downtown, police stalked every corner and bag inspection tents were set up outside of venues, but if you only saw the people it would feel like nothing happened. Life goes on. Help or be on your way. The many creative ways this city has reached out to support its own have been refreshing and healing. All the offerings of food, shelter, blood, solace, employment, prayers, and hugs have become fluent throughout the area’s social landscape. But this scenario is too familiar for me to hope for any lasting positive change to blossom. We are always our best when we have no choice. It is in our DNA to work together to survive, and we do so in beautiful ways.
What has been plaguing my mind since this happened is what will materialize when the shock wears off. What will we become as the pain sinks in? Or in those moments when we once again feel alone in our suffering? When we have no answers? When no one is watching? Will we digest our rage and fear so it is metabolized into something useful, or will we implode? Will familiar faces become suspect? Will we continue to stand so united when the day-to-day returns, or will we feed on one another’s differences?
Lovely, gracious, powerful. Such aspects of humanity can arise from these situations – but it does make for one steep, dark descent if we fall. I want to believe we are stronger than that. People around the country are already unraveling on one another over this, but Bostonians do not share their convenience of distance and for now they are sticking together. If this is what defines being ‘Boston strong’, then let it be a permanent lesson to all of us in what we will become rather than some moment of ephemeral tenderness from who we once were.
January 28th, 2013
On the morning of my 33rd birthday, I went to Race Point just outside Provincetown to watch the sunrise. I realized while tossing and turning in bed that I had never seen the colors of day break stretch across the open waters of the sea, so rather than try to salvage any more sleep I decided to take advantage of the fleeting hour before dawn and get my butt to the beach. Cape Cod had been blanketed by snow the night before. The thick clouds were still rolling low in the sky when I started the car, trees bent and cracked in the wind, and thin snowflakes doted the windshield like lipstick from blown kisses. The chance was perfect.
When I arrived at the beach I quickly learned that I was the only soul in sight. Snow drifts nestled into the dunes making the landscape a barren calico of sand, powder, grass, and drift wood. The Atlantic wind bit my eyes and cheeks as its gusts led the sea in a feverish dance. Waves crashed in roaring laughter while a flock of seagulls stood in mourning around a dead beloved. It was a good morning for a funeral.
I walked along the creeping tide as it reached out and teased my feet. Beyond the coast the water was as dark as midnight. I headed eastward towards the horizon. The entire sky, save for a sliver to the West, was full of snow clouds that had no intention of moving along any time soon. For a half-hour I perused this beach in the most sincere sense of solitude one could imagine. I had never had the sea all to myself. Every step was an unspoken dialogue between us and I was humbled to be alone in such company. Sometimes I would stop and listen after each stride, other times I broke out into a full run so my lungs could lap up the cold air. » Read the rest of this entry «
January 7th, 2013
When it comes to relationships, I am not a fan of obligation. I downright detest it. I don’t care if it refers to a co-worker, friend, boss, colleague, neighbor, elder, or family member. For me, there is no stronger way to invalidate a connection with someone if it is solely to play a role or out of guilt. I believe we should do things for one another out of sincerity. That’s it. If that sounds a bit idealistic to you, get in line. I am not naive to how difficult this is to apply in day-to-day life and I have plenty of examples of where I fail to do so. But I still believe that genuine love and compassion should be the core of our intentions when it comes to interacting with one another.
Now I am not a love-all-turn-the-other-cheek-everyone-is-good type who thinks every person deep down has the capacity to be Mahatma Gandhi. Let’s be realistic. There are assholes in this world just as there are humbling human beings. There are also just as many shades of grey in between as there are people in the world. Because we come in all sorts of deviations, relationships are tough.
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April 23rd, 2011
Recently I visited Arnold Arboretum to stroll among the trees while they were still naked in their Winter dormancy. All season long I had been captivated by these monumental pillars of the natural world while they stood silently in the backdrop. Coming from the West, this was the first time I had ever seen most of these trees in their bare skeletons because the pictures commonly favored them in their full summer attire. It was amazing to experience what a difference it made with all their ephemeral features gone, especially the stillness, the silence. As I walked, a question began to form in my mind: If you removed your beliefs, emotions, opinions, attitudes, politics, and anything else that was fleeting or learned, what form would be left? It reminded me of a sticker that asked, “Who would you be without your story?” » Read the rest of this entry «
February 19th, 2011
Surviving trauma isn’t easy. I was once told by a therapist that having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was in essence like living with a terminal disease. It sounds very dramatic, I know, but it makes sense. People who have violent things happen to them are forever altered and there is simply no going back to who you used to be. Not only do we have to reconcile how to exist in a world whose reality can be very extreme due to the memories and other long-term effects of our experience, there’s also the exhaustive reckoning that forces us to wrestle with our exposure to a side of human nature that may challenge everything we’ve ever understood about justice, respect, safety, morality, or god. » Read the rest of this entry «