Trying to Make Sense
Two days ago, the country watched in shock as the Boston Marathon was derailed by an act of violence. One of the largest national sporting events, a symbol of dedication, sportsmanship, and personal triumph, the tragedy of terror and of innocent lives lost is overwhelming.
I have thought for two days about writing about Boston, but I didn’t have a way to express what I felt. Boston was the first city I ever called home. I lived there for two years as a student and the city houses some of my fondest memories- that time just before I moved to New York to start my career- and find a day job- when anything was a possibility just around the corner. It’s the first time an event like this has happened in a place I have known intimately, recognizing the buildings and the streets that make up the marathon route.
So this event has impacted me in a different way, I suppose. A community that I know, places I have been. And yet, I don’t have a claim to this tragedy any more than anyone else does. You don’t have to be an Emerson graduate or know which stores are found in Copley Place to be impacted by senseless violence. In a world where we are confronted with the loss of human life, and the hatred and fear which cause it, every day, who is to say that we get to feel more or less deeply because of our circumstances? Maybe you live there, maybe you passed through once on a business trip. Maybe you are a runner. Or a swimmer. Maybe you are just a person, and as such, you have the ability to feel deep compassion and sadness for others. In talking about my own history with Boston, I would never want to put myself in a special club of people who are “allowed” to be upset.
As I was checking in with my loved ones in the city, a friend said to me “Just keep doing yoga. Send your good vibes.” And though I agreed in the moment, that sentiment felt perfectly inadequate to me. How could me stepping onto my mat do anything at all? No thought, no vibe, no prayer, no action seemed like it would go far toward alleviating the pain of what had happened. That’s why I couldn’t write, I think. What is there to say to make it better? And I think maybe the answer is, in a way, nothing. We don’t have to, and we don’t get to, make the situation better. There is no cure for the crime committed every time someone decides that a human life is a bargaining chip or a way to get a message across. We have to let this event be exactly what it is, sit with the tragedy and acknowledge that this is part of the world we live in.
And at the same time, we have to continue forward. And maybe that’s what it means to keep doing yoga and send my good vibes. If I truly believe that one person’s actions affect the universe in untold ways, which I do, then maybe the best thing I can do in this moment is try to be a positive spirit. Maybe my good vibes are the best gift I can give. I think when something bad happens, there is a part of us that feels we need to be sad to show the depth of our feeling. But maybe my work here is to move on, not because I don’t care about what happened. Move on because I do care, and because it is not for me to know whether smiling at a stranger on the subway today will somehow bring some comfort to an ailing city that I love. But if there is a chance it will- well, then that’s where I will be.