Viva Las Vegas
Two weeks ago, I swore up and down that I would start posting one blog per week. The first week was a speedy success (see Gecko on Speed); last week was an escalating scramble of a week, starting off slow and speeding towards Friday and a staycation in Kokee. I wrote all week, which is great, and good enough; I considered posting an old completed post, but didn't have time to insert photos, I considered re-posting a completed post on Meditation, but a client came before I had time to get it copied and pasted and posted. So I sauntered off to the cabin, where I read Brene Brown's new book, wrote feverishly, and re-watched I Heart Huckabees for the thousandth time, and had an incredible weekend of R&R.
Today I woke up knowing that I needed to post this morning to make up for the deficit of last week. I also read the latest update about the tragedy in Las Vegas, and as a result have been crying all morning, feeling so raw about the world. So in efforts to avoid actually addressing what is going on with me, I went to the office (it's a day off), I have returned two phone calls (you know how much I hate calling people), started an e-mail that I've been meaning to write for the past 2 weeks (don't worry I'll finish it after this), and I have written the last two paragraphs. Sometimes when things get overwhelming and sad, I cloak everything in the camouflage of rhetoric.
Let me start my post now:
I have been crying all morning, barely able to speak about the horrific shooting that occurred last night. The pain I see in you, Las Vegas, I feel in myself. The terror I hear in your voice, innocent bystander on the news, I feel in my heart. The fact that hospitals are full, and asking for blood donations, makes me nauseous and feel my own blood drain from my head. Knowing the influx of first responders, the medics, the surgeons, the nurses, the firefighters, the police, the therapists, and volunteers who all will be undoubtedly affected by this trauma crushes into my heart. The numbers circulating social media seeking to reconnect families and friends, make me wonder if I am connected from my own families and friends. The terror, the sadness, the hurt, the disconnection is something that regardless of how we pay attention to it, affects us all because we are human beings.
As I spend the morning swimming through my own experience, I can feel this ebb and flow of connection vs. distancing, and I know that is part of my own brain's way of managing and coping with stress and safety. Which I also realize is a logical way of thinking that reduces the intensity of emotions, so I am also trying to keep one foot in it; to stay emotional-because that is who we are as humans and what connects us. This is a little new for me, I'm pretty skilled at jamming the tough stuff into my closets of compartmentalization, which I believe as a therapist, and as a human, keeps us separate. Here is what Las Vegas means to me:
I started to visit Las Vegas when I was 13 years old after my grandparents moved there. I moved to Las Vegas myself when I was about 21 after completing undergrad; my girlfriend at the time had applied for student teaching and later a job teaching Kindergarten. It was a weird place to live, oddly disconnecting and connecting at the same time. I never made good friends there or felt that I had much of a community outside of my relationship and family there. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to spend so much time with my grandparents; especially before my grandma died unexpectedly of cancer within the next two years. Around 5 years later, several years after I had moved away, my closest Aunt was married to my uncle in Las Vegas, and on this trip my cousin brought her new boyfriend to the wedding, whom my other grandmother accosted at Jimmy Buffets restaurant; the details of their conversation were always foggy but he came out of the interaction blushing intensely and with the nickname "Dream Boat". We still call him that, or DB for short to this day. Two years ago my wife and I met my dad, his wife and kids, and my sister in Las Vegas to rent an RV and caravan through Death Valley for the Christmas holiday. I did Vegas once in the style of "party until you don't know what time it is"; it was fine and fun, but that has never been what Vegas is about for me, Las Vegas has always been a central location, a meeting place for my friends and family. Some of that has changed since my grandpa moved to Chicago last year, but Vegas will always remain in my heart as somewhere that I feel connected and safe, EVEN in light of the events that transpired last night. A part of me looks at the shooting and thinks "That could have been any of my family members", and part of me says "it was many of my family members", my family of humans.
When events like this occur, they undoubtedly strike fear into our sense of wellbeing, confuse us, divide us into us vs. them, and push us into isolation; and this is a choice. "...You and me and the air are actually tiny particles swirling around together..." and this is the truth that even though it kind of really hurts and feels sad, I am choosing to stay connected to the tiny connections between the cracks. Stay connected, stay unified, stay with the love. Good talk, love you guys.