As someone who formerly studied international relations and international politics, I am enjoy staying informed about current events. I will admit that the last few years, marked as they have been by the prevalence of child-induced sleep deprivation and fatigue, I have made less efforts to do so on occasions. But I am generally not terribly uninformed about world events.
As a result, every time I find myself paying attention to the news in a crisis, I am always struck by the tremendous cognitive dissonance I experience between the events I am witnessing on the news while the minutiae of my own life goes on without interruption, far away from the violence and chaos. I suppose it is inevitable for anyone who is not directly affected by such tragic events. To a certain degree, this is part of human resilience and survival. There is someone always suffering somewhere in the world and there is little you can do in the immediate moment other than go on with your own life.
None of this, however, changes the level of inner turmoil on days like this. I am crowded by many emotions today in the wake of the news coming out of Las Vegas – grief, disbelief, overwhelming sadness, righteous anger, deep frustration, despair. I want to yell at stupid, mean and small-minded people on the internet, curl up in a ball and cry, beat something into a pulp for the physical satisfaction of it, and just generally rant at the world at large for being so wrong sometimes. And all this is just because, as a human being, I am able to empathise with other human beings experiencing tragedy even though I have no direct relationship to them. What this tells me is that I haven’t even begun to scratch the depth of human emotion that can be unleashed in such a situation were this to touch me in a more personal manner. I can offer thoughts and prayers to the victims but I cannot comprehend their loss as anything more than the vaguest abstract outline of the emotion.
Generally, I don’t do any of these things. I try to avoid feeding the trolls on the internet. I don’t curl up in my bed and cry, I might rant to my husband somewhat knowing that he will provide a sympathetic ear or engage as a devil’s advocate to let me air out all of my arguments. I don’t beat things up. I do, however, hug my kid a bit tighter. Whisper thanks to the universe for my husband. Think about my family. And generally wrap myself in the blanket of gratefulness for the things I do have.
In honour of this (and in fact, the very inspiration for these written words which, a mere thirty minutes ago were nothing more than half-formed ideas in my mind until I thought remembered this image) I have decided to illustrate today’s post with a drawing from Twisteddoodles. She is a real life scientist in Dublin, who moonlights as an illustrator and still finds the time to raise twins (a parenting concept that fills me simultaneously with unabashed admiration, horror, and incomprehension). This is a card that she often pulls out in circumstances such as this, because it so accurately and concisely sums up the breadth of human experience in the midst of tragedy.
In lieu of having a chance to ask her for permission to use this illustration, I am going to promote the crap out of her work, which can be found on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and her cards can be purchased on Redbubble. You can also buy her a virtual coffee here if you like her art and wish to support it. She has really funny stuff, especially if you’re a scientist, or cat lover, or parent, or Irish, or… actually she manages to have an honest illustration for most things in life and I love her completely and refreshingly honest approach to all the small-but-hard truths of life. Go check her out. It might even, on a day like today, lift your spirits.
The title is a line from William Blake’s poem “The Tiger” in Songs of Experience, which is probably not the most directly relevant poem to be found for today, but this line and its continuation are the first ones that came to my mind and stuck there.