Yesterday I sent out a blog titled: I Wish We Were Neighbors. Later in the day I looked at the news and discovered there were two mass shootings the day before, one in Ohio, one in Texas. I was flooded with doubt and judgment. Had I colossally screwed up? Had I sent out an unrealistically optimistic and naive blog about the world and the way it works in the aftermath of enormous human suffering?
I have described myself as a card-carrying optimist. I'm famous for saying "it will all work out." But friends, sometimes it doesn't all work out. Tragedy happens. Come over for coffee and we can share our lists of tragedies. It can be so painful to be human.
You would think a woman who worked for hospice for six years would focus on death. But instead hospice taught me about life and resilience. Here is what poet Robert Frost said on the occasion of his 80th birthday:
“In three words, I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It goes on. In all the confusions of today, with all our troubles . . . with politicians and people slinging the word fear around, all of us become discouraged . . . tempted to say this is the end, the finish. But life — it goes on. It always has. It always will. Don’t forget that."
There was a mass shooting with many fatalities years ago in a high school in Oregon. Remembering and honoring their friends who had been killed, the principal of the school said the most meaningful thing their community could do would be to not allow the tragedy to be the end of the story.
I'll probably always be an optimist. It doesn't mean I don't grieve, get depressed, feel anxious and confused. Of course I do. But also, and more accurately, I am becoming a "possibilitarian." While feeling the inevitable sorrows of this world, I eventually realize that the story isn't over... Possibilities to find meaning, learn something, do a kindness and any of a hundred other ways to respond to tragedy with love, generosity, sensitivity and compassion are always there.
Poet Emily Dickinson said: “Dwell in possibility.”
We live in a world where there are wonderful neighbors, community connection and love shared on a daily basis. At the same time our world can be violent, cruel and unpredictable. Somehow we have to embrace both. Its difficult. Its possible.
By the way, the root meaning of the word possible is “capable of making happen”. Let's make it a good day.
With love to you, Judy
I made this little pin a long time ago and I'm giving it to a friend. But, if you make a donation of any amount to Charity:Water I'll make one for you. Just email me that you have made the donation and I'll get to work on it.
The pin is about 1" x 2" - hand embroidered on linen, with a pin clasp on the back. Its possible that working together we can help other families have access to clean water like we have.
The sky is not your limit. Your mind is.
Visit my etsy shop for illustrations from my imagination: