A month and a half ago, my father suffered a stroke. He is partially blind, with no peripheral vision. His breathing has suffered too from the decades of smoking. His gasps for air between sentences sound literally like final breaths. The kind you hear in war films from a fallen soldier, fighting death. Because my father is slowly dying.
A month later my mother calls me to tell me she's going in for surgery for a tumor. After removing part of it, they decided that she required chemotherapy for the next 6 months.
That was five days ago.
And then Boston happened.
And then we lose background checks for gun purchases.
Texas explosion. The ricin incident. Strawberry Worker Shootings in Greece.
And then Boston part 2. Streaming at me constantly last night through my phone.
The easy thing would be to believe my world is falling apart.
It seems that way.
We are all relieved it is over and tell ourselves to never forget what happened.
We remember. Sort of.
In everyone, there was a brief moment where your daily problems ceased to exist. The subway singers you found so annoying are making you happy. The screaming kids at the coffee shop you do your work at tuned out from your hearing range. You pick up your phone and tell your girlfriend you love her in the middle of the designs a client is pestering you about.
I've seen this movie before. Person learns they've got terminal cancer and a shift takes place in their psyche. They are suddenly aware of what really matters.
Faced with death, all of our assumptions are called into question.
Am I doing what I'm supposed to be doing? Am I living right? Have I found love in my life? Do people feel loved by me? Am I happy? Is this what I want my last memories to be?
And this is the part we forget, because our "terminal cancer" goes into remission. We go back to our regularly scheduled lives.
Our fears, anxieties, self-doubts of our careers, love life, purpose flood back. We distract ourselves with the trivial news of other peoples nipple slipping out on television, as if it affects us on a deep level.
Because it's fun. It's engineered that way. And in the same way junk food looks and feels like food, these distractions look and feel like problems.
As we all settle down and try to understand the motives of the suspects in the next few days, I will put my money on one thing. Like you and I, the bombers had fears, anxieties, self-doubts of their lives and place in this world. The fear won. It beat them. To contribute to this world, a world that is often highly critical and seemingly unforgiving, takes courage, hard work and endless heart. What is more frightening than believing you are irrelevant, weak and out of place? Remember that really annoying kid in your 7th grade classroom that couldn't stop getting in trouble? How do you think he felt?
My purpose in writing this isn't to give the bombers excuses, but to crush any of those that you might have regarding your own life and purpose.
Do not forget what happened last week. Do not forget the questions you began asking yourself about your place and priorities.
We are only free to the extent of our own self-mastery. Do not let fear and self-doubt win.
Those who can not govern themselves are condemned to find masters to govern over them.