This is a hard week. For all of us. And even that feels like a massive understatement. It's been most difficult, of course, for those directly effected by the events in Boston, and in Texas, and in all the other innumerable places whose respective names and tragedies will become buzzwords before they, too, recede into the haze of our collective consciousness. Yet weeks like these aren't easy for bystanders, either. As one who makes my living with words, the thought of adding my uninformed voice to the constant flood of disaster reportage—or contributing to the starkly contrasting currents of fluff—has left me speechless. Powerless.
But it's okay to sit with these feelings. For a pause is most certainly preferable to overreaction and its frequent partner, regret. If I can't write, I can read. Indeed, much of substance has emerged from the depths to puncture the river's hashtag-littered surface. I especially enjoyed Bruce Schneier's piece in The Atlantic, which included the advice that we "Empathize, but refuse to be terrorized. Instead, be indomitable…" It's a call to our strength of spirit, one that focuses not on the destruction of our past and present but on the enduring resilience of our eternal humanity.
It is also a call to our strength of soul in the form of empathy. For if we can't speak, we can listen. Though we have no words, we can receive those of others with an open heart and mind. We can forge ahead thoughtfully, doing what we can as best we know how. So my thoughts are with everyone, in Boston and beyond, as we navigate these rapids together. At the end of the day, as the poet Mary Oliver asks, "What can we do but keep on breathing in and out, modest and willing, and in our places?"
Images: Emily Johnston Instagram.