Let It Be

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CNN-fueled coma, late and then later, paralyzed on my sofa, drifting and dozing, soundtrack of breaking news updates playing in my ears.

Sadness doesn’t describe it. Despair is closer. I can honestly say I didn’t feel this way after Paris, or Colorado. I don’t know why it was this time, this day. Maybe I couldn’t push it aside or compartmentalize it any longer.

I know dozens of tools I might have tried. This has everything to do with the practice for living I preach: the techniques you use to cope, especially in difficult times. I could have meditated, found a yoga class, lit a candle. I could have phoned a friend, posted on Facebook, asked for help. I could have watched a comedy (okay, that’s unlikely if you know me), smiled at pictures of my baby niece, taken a long, hot bath.

Instead, I didn’t do any of it. I didn’t have the energy or the desire. Instead, my Herculean effort was when I ventured out, in a winter coat and flip-flops, to buy two slices of pizza. Then right back to the couch. This is how I spent the bulk of the 36 hours after the San Bernardino shooting.

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There is one other tactic I tried. It’s not an exercise meant to raise my vibration, cultivate my inner peace, and energize my existence.

I let it be.

I let myself be sad, disconnected, angry, hopeless, confused, and in grief. I didn’t try to change it. I was crystal clear on the fact that every bite of my margherita slice was an attempt at escape- and I enjoyed it anyway. Somewhere in that moment of emptiness, I was able to keep a little spark of compassion for myself lit, and I kept myself from piling the usual helping of guilt and self-loathing about my choices on top of a heaping plate of misery.

I should mention: there is part of me that feels horribly selfish writing this post. Who am I to share my own experience of grief about a shooting 3,000 miles away? Truth is, I don’t know how to talk about the thing itself, because I can’t wrap my brain around the fact that one moment there is life, and the next it is gone. I cannot fathom that we will continue to see nothing happen on a policy level. There are many people I’d like to shake by the shoulders, screaming and shouting- as if that would help them value a human life over the right to purchase an assault weapon.

Ultimately, this is not the place for that kind of vitriol, and even so, there are many people out there who are much more courageous about their anger than I. This is a place for trying, even when it seems impossible, to find a grain of hope in a shore of desperation. So when I say let it be, I don’t mean resign to doing nothing. I mean allow yourself the fullness of the experience, no matter how heartbreaking. Maybe when it becomes too much to bear, that’s what will lead you, me, all of us to take action. Give it space. And time. And love. Bring as much love as you can manage. It will change, it will shift. It has to- it just has to.

Much love, Kristen

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