Dear People in a Crazy World,
As I write this, bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is still on the run in Massachusetts five days after two bomb blasts killed three and injured 170 people at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
Seventy-five miles south of me in West, Texas, work crews, volunteers, and police are sifting through toxic rubble looking for bodies at the West Fertilizer Plant explosion: the death count from Wednesday has still not been confirmed.
Letters laced with ricin were intercepted in Washington this week, addressed to President Obama and Mississippi senator Roger Wicker.
On Wednesday, the senate rejected an amendment to expand gun background checks, going against what the majority of Americans clearly support, yet the NRA does not.
Closer to home, our own Kim Bullock's daughters' elementary school was on lockdown Monday after a man killed his pregnant girlfriend and eluded police for a few tense hours before being captured in Dallas.
And outside of America, Crazy World? Last week, North Korea pointed nukes at us—maybe. A blast in Baghdad killed twenty-seven, and dozens were killed in Somalia at a courthouse attack. Dictators are ranting or threatening, others are imprisoned. Earthquakes and landslides and fires ravage the planet. The world keeps spinning, and it seems the violence expands, all over the earth, all around us. We are not the center, dear people, we are the passengers, turning against each other out of fear and loneliness and hatred.
I wish I could write this letter to you to provide a solution, or an antidote to this violence, this hate, and to the randomness of pain. Instead I'm asking that we step back and take the time to focus on who we love and the joy in our lives, instead of the latest tragedy. Because when I look closely at the past seven days, my life has still been filled with beauty and art, not just the bombardment of tragedies.
I was honored to listen to Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout talk about her four novels, her writing process, and her life in words.
I attended the theatre and watched Wicked with my daughter and her junior high choir, exploring the majesty of a live performance with thirteen-year-olds whose faces glowed with amazement and awe at the beauty and power of Elphaba, Glinda, and Fiyero.
I finished reading Sharon Olds' latest Pulitzer Prize winning poetry collection, Stag's Leap, and George Saunders' latest short story collection, Tenth of December.
I did daily yoga, ran six miles, did a few hundred push-ups, and went on a long walk.
I talked to friends who love me. I hugged my daughters. I laughed with my best friend about a strange occurrence in our neighborhood until we both had tears streaming down our faces.
And after the prompting of a popular quote online, I watched several episodes of Mister Rogers Neighborhood to remind myself to be kind, loving, and full of peace to counter the effects of a hateful world. I reminded myself to be one of the good guys, or as Mr. Rogers says, to be one of the helpers.
And so, Crazy World, good things still abound, love and peace can only prevail if we choose to be the solution. Help your neighbors and community. Laugh. Produce art, write new words, paint and act and sing. Maybe I'm a dreamer, thinking art, words and song can save us. But at the center of all art, prose, poetry, and music, is love. And love, I believe, is the only thing that can save us.
Peace and love and words,