Tag Archives: hope

Boston: Evil Acts, Epic Unfairness and a Message of Hope

Boston

My puppy woke me up at 4:30 this morning. An hour earlier than usual. I staggered out of the bedroom, told him to shush, and tried to go back to bed. He started barking again.

After the third trip from the bedroom to the back door, I gave up on sleep. I put on a pot of coffee, made myself some toast and sat down to write a blog post. I had an hour of free time before it would be light enough to take Buddy for a walk.

At 5:00am, just as I was at the halfway point of my blog post, my Facebook timeline exploded.

“What’s happening in Boston???”

“Is it true? Were there bombs?? Is anyone hurt??”

“OMG, Boston!”

“The news is saying two people are dead in Boston. Are you guys okay? Were you there?”

I could barely bring myself to click on the news links.

Not again, I thought. I just can’t take it.

And then, I hope no one I know was there. 

I looked back over my half-finished rant about a very First World Problem and I hit the ‘delete’ button. And then I read the news.

I cried.

But around and around in my head went a single thought. This is so epically unfair. Not the loss of life, or the injuries, or the shattered innocence of the children who were at ground zero this time around. That was all too much to process at 5:00 in the morning.

I just kept thinking about the runners.

The other competitors.

The people who had trained and trained and trained to run the marathon.

The people who made it almost 26 miles — and then watched the finish line explode.

The runners who (mercifully) hadn’t made it to the end. The ones who were within a mile of their goal, and were then redirected elsewhere.

For those people, that race will never be finished.

It will never be over.

No matter how many other marathons they run, in their heads they will always be half a mile, or a mile, or ten miles from the end of Boston 2013, watching as the finish line vanishes in a blast of flame and terrorism and unfairness.

Epic unfairness.

Later in the day, when the dog had been walked and the children fed and dropped at school, when I was standing in the supermarket trying to decide whether to buy lemon or lime scented dishwashing liquid, the full weight of the tragedy hit me.

The true epic unfairness.

The unfairness of good people killed in the midst of a celebration of strength and fitness.

The unfairness of people injured, lives derailed, and a long-held tradition besmirched with blood.

The unfairness of small-minded people committing evil acts.

You’d think that by this stage of my life, considering the number of times I’ve grieved and emotionally bled for victims of terrorist attacks, I would have developed some kind of coping mechanism; some kind of system where I could hear about tragedies and just be okay.

But I haven’t.

So I stood in the supermarket, one hand hovering in front of the dishwashing liquid, and I cried.

And then I came home.

Because there’s more important things in the world than washing dishes.

When I got home, I re-read Patton Oswalt‘s statement. I shared it on Facebook this morning, but it wasn’t until I read it again that I was truly able to appreciate the message of hope he offers. Here’s what he had to say:

Boston. Fucking horrible.

I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, “Well, I’ve had it with humanity.”

But I was wrong. I don’t know what’s going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.

But here’s what I DO know. If it’s one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we’re lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they’re pointed towards darkness.

But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago.

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, “The good outnumber you, and we always will.”

Just take a moment and say it with me.

“The good outnumber you, and we always will.”

It doesn’t change what happened in Boston. It doesn’t minimise the terror or the grief or the sadness. But it does give me hope.

I hope it does the same for you.

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Dream a Little Dream of Awesome (Now with Extra Firefly!)

It’s my friend R’s birthday. He’s having a get-together with some friends. I didn’t think we’d be able to make it — my husband has to work — but after lunch I spontaneously make the decision to put the kids in the car and drive to his place.

We arrive at his place, but it’s different to the way I remember it. The property is huge. There’s a big, old barn to one side, a more modern building to house the horses on the other, and a ramshackle old farmhouse smack bang in the middle of the yard. The house has a sagging balcony wrapped around the wooden building, a couple of slats missing from the five-step staircase, and old sofas and bean-bags scattered on the deck and grass.

I take the kids to look for the birthday boy. The place is packed. There’s an indie band playing on a makeshift stage. I don’t recognise the musicians, but their music is familiar. There are people lying around on the sofas, other people chatting near the barbecue, and through one of the open windows I can see a group of guys playing some kind of networked computer game.

After some searching, I find my friend. “Happy birthday!” I say to him. He gives me a hug, makes a lame joke full of sexual innuendo, and tells me to grab a drink and make myself at home. Then he returns to the computers inside.

I spot a group of kids playing together out back and take my boys out there.

“Hey,” says a familiar figure. “I’m Jayne. I’m watching the kids while they kick a ball around. Want me to look after yours as well?”

“Sure,” I say.

I leave the kids to play and head back inside, looking for beer.

I sit on a sofa with my beer and put my feet up. The band is really good. I groove along to the music for a while before I realise I need to go to the bathroom. I walk inside, but can’t find anything. Every time I walk through a doorway, I end up back outside. I can see computers through the window, but I can’t find the computer room inside. I start to get frustrated. And I really need to pee.

“What are you doing here?” someone asks. I look over. It’s a girl I haven’t seen in years. (We’ll call her A.)

“Hi!” I say, happy to see her. “I’m here for R’s party. It’s great to see him.”

She stares at me. She’s angry. I don’t know why. Just as she’s about to walk away, I ask, “Do you know where the bathroom is?”

She scowls and says, “Fine. I’ll show you.” Then she stalks away.

I follow A to the left, along the balcony. We go down a set of stairs, climb through a barbed wire fence, and then scramble over a mound of discarded and broken furniture. On the other side, the air is colder and there’s no grass growing. I look around, but there’s no sign of the house and I can’t hear the band.

“There,” A says. I follow her pointing finger and see a broken, porcelain toilet bowl. “It’s that or nothing.”

She’s gone and I survey the toilet. I wouldn’t even consider using it, except I really, really need to pee. And there doesn’t seem to be any option. I tap my fingers against my thigh. Then I start undoing my jeans.

I stop.

There’s no one around. And it’s not like there’s a door (or walls) to give me any privacy anyway. I look around and realise  there’s a row of trees and bushes over to my left. Why use a broken toilet when there’s plenty of other options available to me? I leave the trash heap and relieve myself in the bushes, and then return to the party. There’s no sign of A.

I settle back down with my beer on a sofa and watch the sun shining in the brilliant blue sky.

“Hi,” a girl says. “Mind if I sit here?”

“Sure,” I say. I sit up and leave her enough room. There’s something very familiar about her. “Do I know you?”

She looks me in the eyes with a startling intensity and says, “I don’t think so.” Then she smiles again and holds out her hand. “I’m Sasha.”

We shake hands and I introduce myself.

“What do you do?” I ask.

“Lots of things,” she says. “I just started work as the editor of Speculate, a new Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine.”

We talk about books and stories and the appeal of speculative fiction for a while. Then she asks if I’d like a free subscription to the magazine. “Since you’re R’s friend,” she explains. I agree and give her my business card. She leaves to go talk to the band.

It’s late afternoon. I’m lying on a sofa thinking I should go find the kids and go home when Sasha returns. This time she’s followed by half a dozen other people. “Hi again,” she says with a strangely seductive smile. “You didn’t tell me you were a writer.”

I’m surprised. “How did you…”

“I always google people I meet,” she explains. “I’ve just been on your blog, reading your flash fiction. It’s really good.”

“Wow,” I stammer. “Thank you. That’s… that’s great.”

I feel weird and anxious, but she smiles at me again and all those feelings disappear. “I was wondering,” she says. “That story you wrote about Captain Aldo… There’s a lot that’s not explained.  Let me ask you a question: Is Aldo a good man or a bad man?”

I struggle to remember the story she’s referring to, but can only recall the bare basics of it. “Well, I left the ending ambiguous intentionally,” I say. “So people could make their own decision.”

Her expression doesn’t change, but she’s disappointed. Some of the other people turn to leave. I’ve said the wrong thing. I speak up quickly, “But my intention… He thinks he’s a good man, but he often has to do bad things to protect the people around him.”

Sasha smiles. Everyone else smiles. Someone starts to applaud. “That’s great,” says Sasha. “I’m also a movie producer, and I’d like to make a movie of your story about Captain Aldo. I need you to write the screenplay. And I know exactly who will make the perfect Aldo.”

She looks past me to the man lying on the sofa behind mine and Nathan Fillion shakes his head. “Uh-uh. No way, Sasha. I’m not interested.”

He sits up and starts putting on his boots.

“Come on, Nathan,” Sasha says. “You haven’t even read the screenplay yet! It’s perfect for you. Trust me!”

“No,” Nathan says, drawing out the word. “Too many times, Sasha. But not this time.”

“But–”

“No,” says Nathan. “This isn’t like the other times. You left me standing at the altar. I’m not taking your word for it again.”

Sasha closes her eyes and looks away. Nathan finishes tying up his boots and stands up. It’s now or never.

“Nathan?” I say.

“Yes.” He’s angry and hurt, but when he looks at me, he shoots me that familiar smile. I smile back. I can’t help it.

Sasha’s right, he’d be perfect for Captain Aldo.

“I just wanted to say that I’m sorry we won’t be working together,” I say. “I’m a big fan.”

I stand up and walk off the balcony. A few minutes later, they join me together. “I’m in,” says Nathan. “When do we start?”

Sasha smiles at both of us. “Right now,” she says. “I’ve got my people getting the barn set up for the first shot. Nathan, make-up is waiting for you.” She turns to me. “I hope you can get the first scene written and ready to go quickly. We start filming in half an hour.”

We all head towards the barn, and…

…and I woke up. Come on, you knew this could only end one way, right? Yes, it was all a dream. You can’t possibly tell me you’re surprised.

(Although, just to be on the safe side, when I woke up and phoned R to wish him a Happy Birthday, I asked if Nathan Fillion was there. You never know.)

I woke up feeling happy and at peace, confident that I’m on the right path to fulfill my dreams. Sure, that path may not involve writing the screenplay for a movie starring Nathan Fillion (in half an hour, no less!), but it’s the right path for me. And that’s all that matters.

Have you had a dream that changed or reinforced a decision you made? Do you pay attention to your dreams, or is that just me?

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Filed under Random Stuff, The Inner Geek