Monday, July 30, 2007

Hey Nostradamus!

Just a quick warning... if you're feeling unkind today, or like you need to put somebody in their place or justify or explain something, just stop reading now. 'Cause what I'm about to write isn't wrong or mean, but it is hard to swallow... for me, anyways. And while I need to get it out, it's so freaking sensitive in me right now that I think if you poked at it, you'd probably really hurt me. And I would delete your mean comment and call you names. Just FYI...

I finished reading Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland a few weeks ago. Not to ruin the story for those of you who haven't read it, but it is about a high school massacre and the fallout on the lives of those it touched, right then and also several years later. It's an excellent piece of literature, and Coupland has this wonderful gift for making me think about my humanity and spirituality without seeming religious or weird. My assumption is that he is probably pretty freakin' cool.

The book hit me fairly hard, I think maybe because I was a senior in high school when the Columbine School Massacre occurred in April of 1999. I have all these little snapshots of it in my head - mostly they consist of sitting in Mr. Mertes' classroom and watching CNN. I can't remember if it was Government or Econ and probably by that point of my senior year, I no longer cared. But I do remember the images on the television a little too clearly for comfort. I remember hearing the stories of the teenagers who were killed - seeing some of their burials, hearing about how somber graduation was for the rest of them. And I remember hearing about Eric and Dylan - the things they'd written, videotaped, etc, etc... At some point I heard a rumor that the popular kids and jocks were their prime targets. I don't know if this is true or not, but I know that it held my attention when I heard it.

And... God, I don't know if I can write this, even eight years later...it makes me a monster... I never really blamed them - the gunmen, I mean - those boys shooting their peers and putting trench coats on the list of forbidden clothing for the next few years. I saw and I heard and I felt and I feared... and somehow I identified with them. Because I knew what it was like to be on the outside of everything - what they did with their guns I'd already done with my heart. I hurt and I hated. And when I heard the jocks were gunned down (true or not), my only thought for them was that maybe they shouldn't have been such assholes - maybe they got what they had coming all along. Was it too much to ask to be kind?

Probably I'm going to hell for this. If there is a hell. I don't know why I even wrote it, except that sometimes you have to get things out of you before the space they were in can heal It's like purging an infection, I guess. Some of you will read this and think I was a horrible person. But I wasn't. I was just hurt and tired and trapped and tormented. They say we all are in high school, but I think that's only half true. I think there really are some of us who make it through relatively unscathed and some of us who barely survive. And what those boys did was really no different than what their peers did to them - they exerted their power to hurt them in the way they could. And maybe you're thinking, 'but those Jocks never killed anyone,' but I'd say you're wrong. How many suicides have nothing to do with feeling hopeless and hated and unloved? How many eating disorders come from nowhere? How many of us shut down from rejection after rejection when kindness really isn't that hard? Acceptance really isn't that hard, is it? If you knew your life was on the line, would that change who you're kind to? If you knew your soul was on the line? If you knew that who you're kind and unkind to now would change the person you will become?

Look, it's been eight years (or, actually, seven years, 355 days). I'm still learning to trust and be kind to those who so easily slip into the mainstream without a bit of resistance or thought about it either way. Trust is hard, because scars fade so slowly. Kindness is easier in coming, most of the time. I think this is because kindness is a verb I choose to put into motion while trust is more of a noun for me - something I might stumble over or that might be bestowed on me. Either way, I think I am doing better. I don't feel much about Columbine right now except revulsion that I still can't identify with the victims - that while I don't think Eric & Dylan should have shot anyone - Dear God, I've NEVER thought that - I still identify more with the way a wounded animal bites than I do with the massacre's dead. And I wonder if I will always be this way.

Currently listening : Not Too Late By Norah Jones Release date: By 30 January, 2007

1 comment:

Megan said...

All these years and we are still singing the same song.