“And thus the heart will break, yet brokenly live on” — George Gordon Byron
I struggle to describe this week. All of the adjectives in my mind seem to collide with one another in a frenetic game of bumper cars. Contrasting realities – awful, horrific, mind-numbing, tragic, senseless, obscene, heartbreaking; life-affirming, connectedness, heroic, powerful, humbling, breathtaking, faithful.
Some people don’t do well with lots of stimuli – I’m one of them. It’s why I hate the mall. Too much going on that is competing for my attention and focus. This week makes a trip to the mall look positively mundane.
I was in the city on 9/11; in the Sears Tower (as it was called then – now the Willis Tower) two days later and flew to the Library Tower in LA thereafter. My mom thought the firm was asking too much and was a wreck while I was gone. I really think that had she known who to call, she would have dialed immediately and railed against anyone who had arrived at this decision. Other than that, the trips were all about being there and not being rattled, reassuring those who needed it and confirming our collective strategy for responding to this serendipitous element of the new normal.
Of course, as this week shows there is no strategy for these traumatic reminders of the new normal. The new normal wrenches us out of our skin, changes the rhythm of the day into a monotone dirge that quietly plays on an endless loop. Daily stressors are too much to bear, everything that is routine is somehow, not. I found myself in tears for no reason (when of course there were all the reasons in the world), sitting with my body wrapped around itself, trying to contain this inexplicable sorrow, covering my mouth so the screams would remain silent while they vibrated through my body. Did I even hear the birds engaged in their gossipy conversation over these past few days? I don’t think so.
The collective release of tension in Boston last night infused my soul with light (and the hearts of many I am sure). To see such joy and gratitude after these incomprehensibly tragic days returns my heart to baseline. The treadmill begins to slow, the incline is less arduous. The music changes – not necessarily exuberant, though hopeful. And when I walked the Sirs this morning, I heard the birds engaged in a rockin’ game of Marco Polo. And with a heart that is bruised, perhaps even broken, we return to our lives.