Nos cœurs sont avec vous.

It’s important to note that I do not speak French, but I took the title from someone I believe does (and I Googled it to make sure it was right) but if it *isn’t* correct, someone let me know? I don’t want to be offensive.

I had to look up Bastille Day, because I didn’t really know what it was. Turns out, it’s an important celebration because of the French Revolution. So I can understand why there were loads of people out today in France. I mean, in my city, during July 4th, there’s a little thing we call Red, White and Boom which draws half a million or so people-all for an independence celebration. And yet, it wouldn’t have even passed my radar, had not one vile thing occurred.

Just a month ago, I was writing the words about pain and sadness and frustration because someone felt the need to attack a group of citizens. A few months before that I spoke of how my heart hurt for Paris, and how love would conquer hate. And here we are once more. Seventy-seven people lost their lives today while they were celebrating freedom in their country and I am sure that more people were wounded. The truck which plowed into people was fully armed, all the way to explosives and grenades.

How do you tell people that you’re certain that the will of the many will outweigh the actions of the few? I grappled with that for a while after Pulse. How do you preach words of love and acceptance while friends and family members vanish instantly from your life? What can be said to heal people who just wanted to enjoy time with their families?

Nothing.

No words can be said to spare the pain, or ease it.

I remember just a couple years ago, I was at the funeral of a childhood friend who had died by suicide. I remember feeling so shaken because I couldn’t find the words which accurately described just how I felt, or to remove the weight and pain from my heart. And I looked at his family and realized that I couldn’t say anything-because words didn’t fix anything.

Words will do nothing so long as that is all they are. Well-wishes can only touch the surface of the pain and sadness which are and will be. It is only when they are followed by actions-by the continued efforts to value and protect life that words mean anything at all.

You see, it doesn’t matter if you spend all day speaking words of love and peace if that is all you do. You must live the life you speak of. You must live it in every action. And even then, the reality is-it just might not be enough.

I know this all sounds a little bleak. I find that each time something of this nature comes across my news, I am both disgusted by it and empassioned by it. We are all suffering. Each and every one of us. And we have to help each other.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” -The Once-ler.

Hindsight

When I was in high school, there happened an event that has stuck with me ever since.

I was the field commander of the high school marching band. It was the best thing that could have happened to me, honestly. I took my job very seriously, regarding each of the band members and color guard as members of my own family, who I would defend to the death (I was very theatrical back then). Anyway, part of my duties was to ensure safe transport of persons and equipment post game. Our instruments were hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. So I would holler out “Band coming through!” And other things, like “Watch out!” And “Excuse us!”

 

(This is basically my podium/ladder-basically huge)

 The event happened one home game my first year commanding (I was commander for 2 years-the first in school history, I believe). I was VERY passionate about my job, but also very polite and I was trying to get all the band and guard members into the school without damaging anything or anyone. Carrying my “ladder” (it was a platform I conducted from which was more than twice my size and a workout all its own), I was announcing our departure when a group of our school’s football players came up from behind me and yelled “No one gives a shit about you band faggots.” And I do not think there has been a single moment in the history of who I am that I contemplated murder more seriously. I think I could have wafted my ladder at him (and yes, I know exactly who he was) and it would havebeen a blood bath. Thankfully my director saw and heard what had happened and talked me down. If I recall, I had to stay after the game because he was telling me about how some football player wasn’t worth my future. I fumed about it for days.  And when the football player came down to the band room to apologize to the director (but not the rest of us), I saw red once more. If it had been a band member, we would have been crucified! How dare he just get off with some shitty apology! Make him pay, dammit!

  

But this story doesn’t end there. Fast forward to the last day of the year 2015 (so today-6 years later), that same football player and one of his cohorts is playing Call of Duty with my husband. They know who he is, but none of them know who I am, other than his wife. So my husband (who was in the band as well) asked if they remembered that incident, as well as a couple others. And they did. I held no hopes that they might have changed, fully expecting them to make more slurs and laugh about it. My opinion was so low, even after over half a decade of separation that I expected them to be the same low-life people they had been before. And after six years of holding that grudge, I got my apology. 

  

So, there was enough time in 2015 to see to it that I learned one more lesson. I spent a good chunk of time today thinking about the implications of the entire event. How is it that I try so hard to hide the mistakes I made in high school from the me I am now, so that people judge me (and you know they will) based on the person they see before them and not the one from before-but would not extend the same courtesy to someone I barely knew? Why did I expect him and his friends to not change what-so-ever, but to have seen nothing short of a revolution in myself? What did that say about me?

And as I look at the clock, watching time pass by, I have a smile on my face. I cannot condone his actions, but my own are no different. I had originally started this post as a declaration of how we are all pressured into being unique but also conforming. And what I learned was that those are the struggles which have defined my past. I’m going into 2016 with a keen awareness that maybe I need to do more to be a kinder person, to keep less stereotypes, to open my heart to forgiveness and the pursuit of happiness. Because one of the only things that is more liberating than”I love” is “I forgive”.

  

Time may change me, but I can’t change time.