Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Too Close to Home

My guess would be there will be many blogs writing something about what happened Monday as a way of understanding, processing, coping or purging what happened.

I had just walked in the door around 3:30. Peter and Clementine were still sleeping. Sam was awake, lying on his stomach, propping himself up on his elbows on our bed, watching cartoons quietly. I waved, and he waved back silently. Elise had a photo shoot and was getting ready. She asked me, "Did you hear about what happened at the Boston Marathon?"

I shook my head.

"There was a bomb."

She quickly finished getting ready and left. At that moment, we were truly two ships passing, flashing each other signals in the dark with powerful lamps mounted on our gunwales. As soon as she left, I consulted my phone for news and met grisly headlines. I texted her, "News on the marathon is gruesome. Don't read or watch."

She responded, "Too heavy. Too sickening. Too close to my heart." I hope she doesn't mind I borrow her words here.

Elise was photographing a model and a hairstyle for a friend of her's. According to her, she waited in a condominium recreation room while she waited for the hairstylist to finish her work. Unfortunately, there were three televisions on, playing and replaying the audio and video. She was trapped in the exact situation I had wanted her to avoid.

Since Elise and I have returned from Brazil, I purposely do not watch or read the news. I find it is too much. I don't need to be party to the daily snarking of partisan politics to do my job. Media is omnipresent and all pervasive. And always bad. I believe information is inherently good, and there is no such thing as being too informed, but at that same time, as with anything else, too much of a good thing is still too much, and I suffer under a constant information bombardment, the relentlessness of today's social and traditional media trying to get into my head. I can't even watch sports anymore, because there is no end to what you need to know to enjoy the game, the mountains of statistics, computer graphics, replays. Even sports have transmogrified into something sinister. Players tweet obscenities, get in fights, drive drunk, beat up their girlfriends, suffer horrendous career-ending injuries that we feel we must see, hide machine guns in their trunks. Sports should be an escape; they should provide the drama that our ordinary lives lack, but instead they are an extension of the worst parts of our ordinary lives.

As I write this, there is a TV on over my head, still....three days later...playing and replaying the audio and video clips of what happened on Monday. How does Wolf Blitzer sleep at night, spending all day talking about the same horrible things over and over again?? Doubtless, he is on heavy medication. When is enough enough? At what point do they stop showing it? Hasn't everyone seen it a hundred times by now?

Given the prevalence of media, I am convinced we can be traumatized daily if we want to be. I wouldn't be surprised if what is at the heart of our fraying human condition is nationwide post-traumatic stress disorder. Before the advent of social media and the need for a constant information flow, it was possible for terrible things to happen in the world and they not affect our daily lives. This is no longer the case. Today, we can be involved in every horrifying incident that happens to anyone anywhere on the planet. We can sit in front of our TV and computer and watch video from the war in Syria as though we were there. Even run-of-the-mill tropical storms are given names, a threatening soundtrack, a font and on-screen graphics on the Weather Channel intended to frighten viewers.

Just look at the pictures of Sam here ====>

Does it look like he worries about someone walking into his school?

Thank god, and therein lies the power of ignorance. Of protecting ourselves and our children from things we cannot control. Of the wisdom in being informed but not being consumed. Of looking for the good in the world, birds named "Cracker", for instance, and chosing to do away with the evil.

As you know from reading this journal, Elise and I always look for the good, many times consciously choosing to turn away from the bad. This time, however, it was too hard to that. As she wrote in her text, "Too close to my heart."

How many races have I run?

More than I can count, but not more than I can remember.

New York City Marathon, Escape from Alcatraz, Seattle Half-Marathon......

How many times has Elise stood at the finish line waiting for me?

We try to look for the good in the world. For our children and for ourselves. This isn't always easy to do, as this week attests. But I have to remind myself at times like these, that the people that are capable of carrying out acts like the one that happened on Monday, represent the finest filament in the vast tapestry of humanity.

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