Tomorrow is the fifteen anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Every person reading this could add any number of other things wrong with the world today that lead them to despair. At moments like this even I have to acknowledge, objectively, that the world is not always a good and kind place. I’m an optimist, but I am no Pollyanna ignorant to the world in which I live.
I am fortunate that I did not lose someone personally in the attacks that day. But, I remember the feeling of incredulity as I huddled around a desktop watching CNN at my office. I remember the frantic phone trees to make sure our employees on travel status in NYC were safe. I remember the announcement that all employees were being sent home and I remember driving a colleague to her house because she had carpooled that morning with her husband. I talked non-stop the whole way, but the funny thing is I don’t remember who it was. Weird.
My strongest memory of the day was getting home and hugging my daughter, not yet a year old. I remember sitting with my husband, holding his hand and discussing what it would mean for her. I was strangely appreciative that she wasn’t old enough to understand it, even as I came to terms with the fact that it would change her life in ways I could not fathom. It was a clear and obvious example of bad in the world that no one could protect her from, not even me.
When you’re a glass three-quarters full kind of person, dealing with the bad stuff isn’t simple. To cope, I’ve learned to expand my framing of the world beyond my own experience, to add perspective of other times and places. In the long arc of human experience there are countless examples of worse evils and greater goods to remind me that I am not special. That my trials and triumphs are only remarkable in that they are remarkably human.
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, a day to recognize that not everyone deals with the bad in the world the same way and to ask what more we can do. I don’t have an easy answer, no magic wand to make the bad go away or to help people cope with the bad that is here. I wish I did. I wish anyone did, but I know that people who promise an easy way to deal with bad are delusional. Or worse.
Like many children of the 70’s, I remember watching Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. As an adult I have been impressed by him and was touched by a quote of his spread by the Internet. He said,
When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.
So, I don’t reject the idea of bad existing. I smile. I write a blog that focuses on real people making their way through the real world, celebrating the good and downplaying the bad. I believe, deeply in my heart, that living in the world today is a gift even when I am reminded that bad exists. Even on the eve of the shared moment that defined the young adulthood of my generation. I’m no Mr. Rogers, but he articulated so well what I believe. Yes, bad exists but so does good.
I try to remember the amazing good.