Tuesday, April 16, 2013

On These Violent Reminders

Sometimes the world is just too much. Too beautiful, too big, too brutal, too small.

After the massacre at Newtown, I tried to think that this was just the world's nudge to remember to slow down. (To those of us who were lucky enough to watch the tragedy unfold at a distance anyway.) It was a reminder to pay attention. To appreciate, to love. But now, just a few months later, that nudge feels like a shove. Like something violent. Like a message. (Did you know that the last mile of yesterday's marathon was dedicated to the Newtown families? God. It feels like a stampede of tragedies, one upon another upon another.)

As a writer, I feel like I am constantly trying to contain the world with my words, to control it. In my photography, I am simply trying to capture it. To slow it down. To savor it in gorgeous delicate increments. It seems I have made a career of this impulse to just hold on. I am consumed by it. But sometimes the world is too much and too loud with its reminders that no matter what I do, I can't contain it, control it. I can't protect the people I love (no matter how hard I try), and worse, I can never ever, ever appreciate it enough.

I don't know what the remedy is for this feeling. It's daunting. And awful. I feel sometimes as though I am always anticipating the next tragedy. Expecting it. Imagined grief haunting so many moments.

I can only imagine what the families, all those families so similar to my own yet now so profoundly different, must feel. Wishing they had slowed down, paid closer attention, loved more. As if there is some magic spell that might have kept them safe if they did.

The responsibility of holding onto something as ephemeral as life, of cherishing each fleeting moment, is too big. If this is, indeed the message to be taken by those of us who, once again are the lucky ones, then how on earth are we supposed to heed it?

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