I hate the word process. Well I don’t actually hate it. I find it inadequate to describe what the actual beginning to end event that takes place to come out the other side. I think it’s overused and therefore looses it potency. But if that is what I have to use (I should really get a thesaurus) then I guess that is what I will use.
The events of the past weekend and have changed me. How could it not? I am a firm believer that one should know what is going on in the world, but at the same time I long for the blissful oblivion that I had at childhood.
I think with every “event”, it changes you at least just a little. Sure I’ll go back to my life, I’ve kind of already have, but there will always be a little piece of me that thinks about it. I will find myself planning escape route in public places. I will find myself looking at people for suspicious behaviour…or attire. Actually I already do that occasionally, because of past “events”, I just think this might be more often. But this has also changed me in a different way. In one I haven’t really expected and maybe for the better.
You see my normal reaction to mass violence resulting in mass death, is to be agitated. I actually noticed this last year during the Japan earthquakes. At first it’s shock, followed by sadness and depression. I then have a heightened state of stress which makes me agitated and short with my family. I found myself with less patience. It was easier for me to lose my temper with those I loved the most and it wasn’t even their fault. I experienced the fight and flight at the same time.
This time it started out the same, but I became aware of it. I guess recognition might actually be half the battle. I consciously and prayerfully made the decision to be kind and patient. It’s amazing how quickly kindness can diffuse a situation. For instance last thursday, Tweedle 3 and I were at the mall for doctors appointments. We decided to stop for lunch. Next to us a scruffy man with one plate of food and a 3 year old girl sat down. She wanted to try his food and he wanted her to use a fork. Problem only one fork and he had it. Second problem she was 3 and would not be fed. He started yelling lost his patience and smacked her hand, not hard but hard enough. Women including myself, were exchanging knowing glances and all I could think was I have to do something, but I don’t want it to be judgemental or confrontational. It was escalating and I did not want to put myself in a dangerous situation, but no one else was.
Then the little girl looked at me. I smiled and said hello. She started talking about movies and the Tweedle J started talking about movies and quickly the mans body language changed. He relaxed. He talked with us and the tense situation was gone and hopefully forgotten.
I noticed that he had a hearing aid. So possibly he was yelling due to hearing impairment. Then it occurred to me that perhaps this was one of his only times he got to spend with what I assumed was his daughter and maybe he didn’t know she could feed herself. Or maybe he wasn’t acquainted with the stubbornness of a 3 year old and thought feeding her himself would just be easier. I know it sound funny, but I’ve seen it, and I’ve been there.
Another thing I did to help facilitate the process was I turned off the news. All I needed to know was that it happened. I didn’t need to know the details of the weapons, or what his third grade teacher thought of him (the shooter). I didn’t need to know what was on his twitter/ Facebook page. I used to be one who had to know every detail, sit for hours in front of the TV immersing myself in the muck and mire of humanity. I’ve learned thats not good for my soul.
Everyone gets tense sometime, especially around tragic events. Wether or not we were acquainted with the people in that movie theatre, it affects us it changes us and now hopefully it will change us for the better. I like how G from the Momastery put it,
“I want to be kind to the people who cross my path, because just like the shooter changed the world-so can I.”