Thursday, December 20, 2012

A moment of reflection

We often assume that people that are quiet don't have anything to say, but as any introvert will tell you, they probably have more to say than anyone else, just no comfortable way to say it. I'm not an introvert in the slightest. In fact, I'm always talking. I usually have a lot to say and a lot of confidence in saying it all out loud. But, that being said, I haven't said much online about Sandy Hook. My news feed on Facebook has been full of articles, protestations, declarations of grief and anger, photos, and analyses of what has happened. My Google Reader has been similarly full - moments of silence, blog posts dedicated, little references and affirmations in the blogging community. But I haven't been able, or wanted, to contribute to the news stream, though I've been consuming it all voraciously. And now, now that the news fervor has died down, and everyone is settling back into their routine, I feel like I need to acknowledge this in some small personal way for myself.

Yesterday was the first day that reading a news article about Sandy Hook, or listening to it on NPR, didn't make me cry, and I think that's only because I tried not to dwell on it. I've never reacted to news the way I've reacted to this monumental tragedy. I've never cried at current events and I was alive and somewhat aware during Columbine, alive and very aware during 9/11, and in college when the Virginia Tech shootings occurred. But they all seemed like pieces of current events to me, not something that was actively happening to me. This one felt different. I can't explain it myself and can only echo the sentiments of others around us - it happened to children, it was supremely unthinkable, there's no explanation for it and therefore we can't process it. Though no one has been affected more than Newtown, this tragedy left a wide, national berth of devastation that I haven't seen before. People in our town, on the opposite side of the country from Connecticut, had panic attacks. My colleagues cried, not only about the victims but about their own children at school. When I called my family, they were upset and angry, unable to talk about it.

I spend a lot of time complaining. A lot of hours are wasted on thinking about what I don't have, or what I want to have instead of what I do have. I found myself, this week, whining about Christmas and discussing the difficulties of being part of a family (dysfunctional or otherwise) with my parents. And in the course of the conversation, it became apparent that what we were complaining about was having too much. We were complaining about having too many people to spend Christmas with. Of having too many people to buy gifts for. Of having too many personalities clashing at once in one house. And in the light of recent events, who are we to complain about having too much? For those of us that don't have to un-decorate for Christmas, who don't have to remove presents from under the tree for someone lost to them, should we not be absolutely and wholly grateful?

When I started to realize what I was complaining about and how out of place it was in our current events, I looked out the window to see the first snow of the year falling quietly on the street below. As the snow built and accumulated into a light dusting of white on the tops of rooftops and cars, it felt clean, new, and hopeful. What better to give us hope this season than a blanket of snow quieting the world into personal reflection?

4 comments

  1. I can certainly relate with majority of the country. As a parent (one who is a teen, and one of around that age), those tragic events really hit close to home. All I wanted to do was leave work, and take my daughter out of school.

    Your story brought tears to my eyes. It's very true that most of us spend too much time complaining about things, and not taking more time to be extremely thankful for what we have. As those events have proven, it can all be taken away so fast.

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  2. What a thoughtful and beautifully written post. I agree with you 100%. I haven't chosen to speak out about the incident because I don't know how to put into words my greif and sadness. And every time I start to write something I can't stop crying. Your post was so touching, and I appreciate it so much. xoxo.

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  3. Thanks for this meaningful post. Really relate to what you're saying, and glad you said it :)

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