I was elbow deep in laundry, midway through Project De-Crapheap the House, when Mr. T asked if I had any desire to go to Home Depot. “To get flowers?!” I squealed, excited at the prospect of leaving behind the housework and playing in the dirt. (No, he wanted redwood boards to fix the back fence, but did not sass me when I loaded up a cart at the garden center.)
A couple hours later, wrist deep in weeds and compost, with new snapdragons, mums, sage, and violets in place, I thought about how strange I felt, having apparently forgotten the quiet healing therapy that is puttering in the garden. Instead of dwelling on my beloved dance teacher’s advanced cancer, or my friend’s upcoming cancer surgery, or my other friend’s dying grandma, or my colleague’s sick dog, or the devastation in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Florida, and Texas, for a few minutes, I could get lost in the ideas of growth and renewal, of beautifying my corner of the neighborhood, of wondering if cayenne pepper would really work to keep the wild turkeys at bay.
Then I woke up this morning to the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. To nearly 60 people dead. To more than 500 wounded. To ‘warm condolences’ and conversations about guns and violence and terrorism and politics. And I felt… nothing.
Most of the morning, I combed the news, feeling sick at my lack of feeling. I remembered the visceral impact of Sandy Hook. The stunning disorientation of learning what those babies suffered. Of the depression that followed. How could I feel so numb and disconnected now?
Because tragedies like this keep happening? Because we do nothing time and again? Because unlike hurricanes, gun violence can be addressed* but we choose not to?
Oddly by the end of the day, I now feel more “warmed up” to the tragedy, seeing the victim’s faces and learning their stories, watching my Vegas friends “check in” as okay. I just keeping thinking: what is this world?
I don’t know anymore, but for the time being, I will keep looking for the good. Somewhere.
* And no, I’m not completely anti-gun.
P/S How those of us in Puppyville are coping…