The wind that knocks you over

Sometimes I miss being a Daily Wildcat columnist just for the opportunity it gave me to organize my thoughts out loud. Since Friday, I’ve on and off tried to write about the theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., which, as news broke, reminded me more and more of being in Tucson in January 2011. There’s a lot to say about politics and gun control, or mental health care and treatment, or good and evil. But the best that I could come up with is that being in the world is hard, and sometimes the wind will blow you off your feet.

This horrible thing happened, and it reminds me of another horrible thing, and that the world is full of horrible things. But in the same way that makes it impossible to forget the Tucson shooting, as the Aurora story keeps developing, it keeps breaking my heart in the worst and best ways. Because horrible things usually bring out good things too, stories about ordinary people being extraordinary, becoming heroes unmasked by villains.

I don’t know how you recover after tragedy. It’s not like newspapers do follow-up stories a few years later to ask people who live through horrible things how they found a new kind of normal. How maybe they have nightmares and empty rooms where people used to live, and somehow they also do things like go to work and ride the bus and wash dishes after dinner, and they do all of these things every day even though something in them was once swept away by a horrible wind. But I  know that they do it, and I think part of being able to do that is in holding onto knowing that when evil makes an appearance, it never really wins.

After I read some of the coverage of Aurora, I went back and I read some stories about the Tucson shooting. And then I read this GQ story about the Norway massacre:

If one man can cause so much pain, imagine how much love we can create together.

So maybe that’s what recovering is — taking the blown-away place in you and finding reasons to make something new and beautiful out of it.

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