When deciding what to write about on this blog, I generally have a subject that is fresh in my mind – something that I’ve been mulling over for a few days, working through ideas before I sit down at the keyboard. I’ve been trying to get myself back here, to get myself to focus on something besides what is in the news, what is in my head. While we are being worn down and demoralized by the news coverage of the latest school shooting, my heart is incredibly heavy and my head remains in a depressive fog.
This is one of those times when I really question my ability to be a working writer – when I cannot write beyond what is happening in my head. If it is to be treated like any other job, I should be able to force myself to work under any circumstances. It feels uncomfortable to write something lighthearted or even off-topic right now. I see many of my fellow writers are moving us forward and I’m glad – it’s necessary, but I am not there yet. Like many people, evidence that the world can be a horrible place, has triggered a depression that I will be in for awhile.
It’s the holiday season for many of us. I spent Friday doing the last bit of holiday shopping before I heard the news. This week, I begin baking like a madwoman. The week ahead was to be busy, but fun and festive. For my family’s sake, I have to continue moving in that vein, focusing on what needs to be done. Inside my head, things are quiet and solemn. I smile at my daughter and hug my husband, but I am only partly present to them. My mind is still processing and working to find meaning where none can be found.
There are fears that plant themselves inside my head that never leave. In 2002, when a sniper went on a three week killing spree, Linda Franklin, 47, from Virginia was loading purchases in her car at a Home Depot in the evening, when she was shot and killed. Since my husband and I had done practically the same thing the night before, that fact came and stayed with me. I am never in a parking lot that doesn’t get scanned and analyzed, aware that my reaction, in the face of a sniper bullet, is completely pointless.
Tomorrow, I have to take my daughter to her elementary school. I don’t want to. I don’t want her to leave my side. I don’t want my husband to go to work in downtown Minneapolis. I do not wish to travel to a public place to meet my employers for a planning meeting. I do not want to wrap gifts. I do not want to bake cookies. I want to be quiet, be still, be undisturbed. But life does not stop – there is no pause button that makes time stand still for the living and there is good reason for that.
I need to come to terms with the fact that life must go on. I must stop watching the news, stop imagining the grief of parents, the horror of that scene. I must come back to my own reality, with all the risks and joys that it entails. But I am not ready yet. Instead of adding to the cacophony of analysis and ruminations, I’ll publish posts this week that I’ve written when I wasn’t in a fog. Perhaps that is what a working writer must do – plan for these times when a presence should be maintained, even when one is truly not present.
Motion and activity may be mechanical, but it allows the brain those moments of silence. I will bake. I will wrap presents. I will pack my husband’s and daughter’s lunches. I will blog some more. I will begin conversation again. I will engage. I will come out of my fog and be reminded, we are still here, we’re alive and it’s okay. We honor the loss of life by embracing our own. I haven’t reached that point, but I will.