Thoughts on Boston and Beyond

New york in black and white

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. 

New york

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.

Paper crane

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.

  • Kristin

    Thanks for your words of solidarity. I was at the Boston Marathon cheering for a friend on Monday afternoon. It really was unbelievable — tragic and sad and horrible. But also, there were incredible displays of the beauty of the human spirit.

  • Mahoganybacon

    This was very well-written and so true. This week, more than any other, I have been listening to opinions and reading articles and news as it came, trying to understand and at a complete loss for words about the state of things. That quote is so poignant. Thank you for writing this.

  • Kelly Golightly

    Beautifully said, my friend.

  • Maureen Sullivan Stemberg, Interiors

    Thank you! I am so proud to be a Bostonian.
    Our Gov. Deval & Mayor Menio … Did a great
    job making us feel safe. Of course, my heart is
    full of gratitude for The Boston Police, FBI and all the people who help us all get though this awful & horrific 4 day’s. I am also grateful for all the expression of kindness that was sent our way. Thank you!

  • Marjory (@sacredflow)

    Yes. Empathy. Compassion. Kindness. All born when we pause and open our hearts.

  • samantha hahn

    well put.