Most times I feel I’m stumbling through life. Poorly.
I turn on the morning news, only to catch the weather forecast. I don’t watch news as a rule. Bad energy. This time, the energy is vile and foul. Another mass shooting. I am aware I am assaulted by fatigue. Weariness. And my life, other than bumbling about, already feels weary.
I want to crawl back in bed and hide under the covers.
But I can’t. Like many of you, I have responsibilities. I care for a father who had a stroke and is 90. I’m struggling to revise the manuscript of my new novel. I’m trying to find part-time work in the midst of caregiving and in the midst of it all, have some kind of personal life.
I also realize I am sad. I am struggling to stay away from the news. The media is covering this event as it has every other blood-drenched massacre, with each detail drawn out, focused on, expanded. Watching too much can be addictive and drag me deeper into the morass of our country’s sorrow.
I make a cup of coffee and go over my day. Doctors to call. Sitting with dad for a time. I look at the news again to learn of any new developments. I shut it off. I go to Facebook. Everyone is offering prayers. Posting photos with candles and expressing their sorrow. All this is good. But haven’t we done this what feels like a thousand times before? Does it change anything?
I am a big praying person. Each day I ask the Divine for peace in the hearts of all people and our world. In my heart. But as I sit in prayer and meditation, I wonder: Is it working, helping at all? I ask a friend this and she says, “But you don’t know if your one small prayer won’t be the tipping point to peace. Keep praying.”
The truth is, my empath-self is on overwhelm. After the hurricanes in this country and then the aftermath of Puerto Rico — now this — I can only absorb so much. Shields up. Shields up. I am feeling the sorrow of our humanity and what we keep doing to each other. Of our disconnection to each other and Mother Earth.
I feel powerless. And weary.
I shut off the TV and laptop and start my day. I head outside into fall weather, with brilliant blue skies, sunshine, crisp cool air, tree tops ablaze in oranges and golds. The day seems to mock the agony in our world. I meet a neighbor who smiles and I smile back. He asks how I am and truly means it. I offer the usual “I’m OK” and ask how he is. He is OK, too.
I hear small birds twittering in the bushes and watch another neighbor help a woman get her groceries out of the trunk of her car. I stop for a crossing guard who guides children across the street. He grins at me and waves me on. When I get to my parents’ home, I hug dad and ask him in Spanish how he is. “Estoy bien,” he says, and this warms my heart.
This is life, I remind myself. The little things we do each day that stitch together the fabric of our lives and being. The kind and loving gestures. The acknowledgment of each other as part of the same family.
I can not change what happened in Puerto Rico or Texas, Florida or Las Vegas and before that at Sandy Hook Elementary. And I may not be able to do great things — feed starving children in other countries or even in our own country, provide shelter for the homeless, or help the thousands of women and children who are sold into sex trafficking each year.
But I can control how loving I choose to be in this moment — in this day. I can, as Mother Teresa said, “Do small things with great love.”
This can be my intention and focus with each breath as I stumble through what seems my small, meaningless life. I can also choose to take some kind of action about violence of too many kinds in our country; I can write to politicians to make my voice heard. I can become involved in grass-roots groups, from faith-based to local government.
I can write. These words. They often save me. Perhaps help others.
Or I can sink into the weariness and powerlessness. Wait for the next mass shooting.
I gather up courage and whisper another prayer for peace. Perhaps it will be the tipping point.