Several days ago a senseless tragedy occurred in a Broward County, FL high school.  A senseless act that citizens are now rushing to try and make sense of.  But at the simple root of that word – senseless – is the very definition that has many beating themselves and more to the point each other, like moths at a porch light on a summer evening.  It was a tragedy completely lacking sense.

We are a society craving solutions, explanations, and reasons for everything that happens to and around us.  We want things tied in a neat little bow in the time frame of a twenty minute sitcom or a forty-five minute drama.  Present us with a problem and then wrap it up and we’ll move on in our lives.  To a large extent, complexity is not in our wheelhouse.  We don’t wish to be visited time and again with the thoughts of seventeen innocent people that left their homes that morning with no idea they would never return.  We don’t wish to imagine ourselves in the nightmare the families of the dead have found themselves in.  Let’s blame guns, or the President, or the FBI, or the killer’s parents, or bullying, or some fundamental ideology.  Let’s point those fingers and move on.

Social media took up the cry shortly after the most recent incident.  It was the “ban assault rifles” crowd vs. the 2nd Amendment group.  Self-proclaimed friends called each other names, insulted each other’s intelligence, and posted endless memes to prove the righteousness of their position.  I had to step away, so to speak.  I find that in my advancing age, the world is infuriatingly not black or white and I struggle with those that insist it is.  As I read and tried to wrap my mind around things, I came across the words of social scientist Brene Brown, from her 2017 work “Braving the Wilderness” and she says it so much better than I ever could.

“The ability to think past either/or situations is the foundation of critical thinking, but still, it requires courage.  Getting curious and asking questions happens outside our ideological bunkers.  It feels easier and safer to pick a side.  The argument is set up in a way that there’s only one real option.  If we stay quiet we’re automatically demonized as “the other”. “

I do not believe that an average citizen should have access to or any reason to own an automatic rifle.  A simple statement but there is too much complexity for that to be the end of it.  

California has the most stringent gun laws in the nation.  But in the minds of those that wish to do harm to others a law means nothing.  These mass killings are not spontaneous crimes of passion.  Every action is plotted for maximum result.  These people have nothing but time and they use it while we are not yet watching.  The largest school massacre in the United States happened in a community of just over 300 in rural Michigan in May of 1927.  It was carried out by Andrew Kehoe, a local farmer with gasoline, a rifle, and explosives purchased to remove tree stumps from his land.

Clearly, where there’s a will…  This is not to say a ban on assault rifles is not a good step, but it is only a step and in and of itself will stop nothing.  We have to exercise the critical thinking Ms. Brown refers to and examine our mental health policies, our security in public venues, the role of other countries and black market arms deals, the function of social media, and most importantly to my mind, our attitudes and responses to one another.  In a time where we must become creative in our thinking and exercise vigilance in our lives the “if you’re not with me, you’re against me” mantra is one of the most certain ways to halt discussion, problem solving, and isolate ourselves from each other.

Let’s get this out of the way.  I don’t know who wrote chapters 1 – 13 but I know they are there and I had to start somewhere.  No doubt there are infinitely more…but I digress.

Recently a friend told a story of finding an old photo.  It was taken at a princess party; a party the friend gave for her two small daughters.  The girls, now adults, were dressed as a Disney princess and a cartoon character respectively, and the friend and her sister had donned old prom dresses to join in the moment.  It was so long ago, the girls don’t even remember and the friend’s observation was, ‘I can’t believe I wore a dress with a giant bow on my ass to the prom’.

Fast forward to the Mars and Venus part of the story.  Any woman hearing this would understand that the important parts of this story are: a) a mother and an aunt going the extra mile to dress up to give a party to two girls who will never remember it, and b) another woman has experienced the ‘aha’ moment when she sees herself in an outfit she originally felt was smokin’ hot only to realize she had a giant bow on her ass.  But in a man’s world, these elements are lost forever…conversation as follows:

Wife: “So, talked to my friend X today and she told me she found a picture of her and her sister at the princess party she gave for her girls.  The girls don’t remember and she can’t believe she is in a picture wearing a dress with a giant bow on her ass.”

Husband: “Wow, most women can’t fit into their prom dresses.”

Wife: “Yeah, well I guess she did, but she couldn’t believe the picture she found.”

Husband: “How many years after the prom was this?”

Wife: “I don’t know…who cares…she wasn’t talking about prom. It was the picture of her with her girls in princess dresses and her dress with the bow on her ass.”

Husband:  “That doesn’t happen very often.”

Wife: “What?”

Husband: “That women fit in to their prom dresses.”

Wife: “That’s not the point!  She didn’t call to tell me the dress fit.  It obviously fit because she was wearing it.  Why are you fixated on this?  It’s about the princess party and what she wore to be a part of it with her daughters.”

Husband: “Exactly!  She wore a prom dress most people couldn’t fit into after they had children.”

Wife: “NO! She wore a dress with a giant bow on the ass so her daughters could have their princess party! ” Then, walking away, “Never mind…”

Husband: Muttering as he retreats to the other room, “I wonder how many women even keep their prom dress, I mean, it will never fit.”

And the mystery of Mars, Venus, and what makes each of us tick continues….

 

A recent conversation with a friend got me thinking about blogging.  What gives any of us the idea that what we think or how we feel about things is of interest to anyone but ourselves?

Of course, the beauty of most blogs is that one must go to them, they rarely come to you and if the subject is of no interest to you as a reader you can immediately opt out of the read.  But as a matter of course do most of us want to read about the writer’s recent trip to Rock and Jump with her two toddlers, or the latest road rage incident on the last foray to Trader Joe’s?  I suppose if you are in a Mommy and Me group there would be an appeal but where I’m going with this is that I want to read a blog that is interesting or thought-provoking or funny or all of the afore-mentioned and is of interest to more than a select group.

Often these goals are more easily written of than acheived but what I am sure of is that any blog of mine will not be limited to one, or even a handful of subjects.  All my life if something has been on my mind it has likely manifested itself as the written word eventually, and my promise to anyone choosing to read here is that you never know what you will find.  Visit when you feel like it, read what you choose, and comment if compelled.  I love the power of the written word and the writing process and I promise, no “what I did today” entries.

Yes, maybe it was the title of a Todd Rungren song, but also the three words that come to mind as I embark on this new adventure.  I believed I was done challenging myself, testing my limits and finding myself again and again outside my comfort zone but I was dead wrong.  I look forward to my new world and all the surprises it holds for me.  As I reinvent my place here once again, all I can say is…hello, it’s me.