I aced geometry in high school, and I had a particular fondness for proofs. Taking a formula and dismantling it step by step in order to determine whether or not it was accurate was a process I enjoyed. It was orderly and rational, with only a single, unambiguous answer. Simply put, it was clean.
If this, then that. Problem solved.
But beyond numbers and formulas, life is far more messy. Trying to squeeze an experience into a single box or deconstruct its smaller elements in an effort to “prove” it is specifically one thing or another rarely inspires any real understanding of a situation. More often, it diminishes my ability to allow the entire range of experiences available to me in any given moment or circumstance. When I insist on precise labels and classifications, the left side of my cerebrum - the part of my brain responsible for things like judgment, reasoning and problem solving - might feel satisfied, but my soul and spirit will rebel. That deep, mysterious space within and around me, which is my very humanity, capable of things like emotion, empathy and compassion, can’t fully express itself with all those walls and boxes. My soul wants to tear the walls down and let everything in.
If this, then that. And that. And that and that. And at the same time, this other thing is also happening, which seems like it should contradict the original this, but it doesn’t. Instead, it actually brings it into sharper focus; each of the opposing ideas ends up helping me understand both of them that much more.
I woke up last week, like you, to the news of the shooting in Las Vegas. I didn’t read much about it online, but instead got a tiny understanding of the horror of it from a friend who knew people who were at the concert, two of whom were killed. Seeing the waves of shock, sadness and anger wash over her was enough for me during those first 24 hours after the shooting. I didn’t need to visit CNN to learn more, a rabbit hole that would have likely had me thinking a move to a remote area in Greenland might have been a better idea than Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was another one of those moments - the ones that are happening with alarming frequency these days - when I feel overwhelming sorrow for the state of our world. If it’s possible for a man to stockpile enough weapons and ammunition in a hotel room to kill more than fifty people in nine minutes, then this world must be truly awful.
A couple of days later, my husband and I took Tilda for a walk in a dog park near our new house. It is a large area with wooded trails and a big space for dogs to play. We were there in the morning and it was chilly enough to see our breath, but the sky was clear and blue and the leaves on the trees seemed to sparkle. Everyone we encountered was friendly, and all the dogs got along - labs, retrievers, terriers, and shepherds. As it always goes when I’m around a pack of dogs playing together, I was laughing most of the time. Walking back to our car, I took in the woodsy smells all around me by closing my eyes and taking big inhales, and was reminded that the world isn’t lost just yet. There is still, I believe, more goodness than we give it credit for.