Early Monday morning. Before I start writing I take a quick look at headlines, and there it is: At Least 50 Dead, More Than 200 Injured in Las Vegas Shooting.
So far a lone gunman, with police searching for his companion. Motive? So far, unknown, though by the time this gets posted we’ll probably think we know more.
Some would like to hear of ties to radical Islamists or white supremacists, in fact any affiliation will do. Maybe the man just didn’t like the way the last season of Game of Thrones ended, or he’s had it with the latest trends in country music.
Once the news organizations hear something—anything—about his background that points to motivation, they’ll interview hosts of psychologists and sociologists to make sense of this mess because sense is what we want, isn’t it? Something to hold on to, something to ward off non-sense.
I’ve walked my dogs in the woods during deer-shooting season, all of us in orange vests. I run into men wearing camouflage under similar vests with big guns, and all of us say a respectful hi. At times, when I knew they were on private land with No Hunting signs, I told them so and even suggested there are other ways for them to get onto state preserve land where it’s legal for them to hunt.
It took a while for me to build up that courage, to look at men holding those guns, all alone in the forest, and tell them they shouldn’t be here. I make it light, I never argue, and I wish them well because I know that most of them are locals who hunt for meat, not trophy. There is lots of poverty in our neck of the woods.
They call him a lone wolf, though no lone wolf would kill unless it needed food.
Needing meat is something I understand, sympathize with because I am no vegetarian. Shooting at a big defenseless crowd with an automatic weapon I don’t understand, so I must change hats and go into my imagination, imagine a human being, a child, an adult, a life. Imagine a home cluttered to the gills with stuff, or else empty of all furniture. Imagine a television going on nonstop, or else just silence all the time. Imagine deep rage eating and eating away, or maybe no emotion at all, mechanically going through the motions of living, wanting something, anything, to make you feel alive.
My favorite Bonnie Raitt song is John Prine’s Angel from Montgomery:
Just give me one thing
That I can hold on to
To believe in this livin’
Is just a hard way to go
Just give me one thing. And suddenly the cold wooden floor under my bare feet is so precious. The ring my father gave me that I wear on my fingers dancing on the computer keyboard, the furrowed old trunks of the trees outside the window, and even the moth clinging to the glass outside, probably dead—I love them more than anything in the world, more than Bernie, more than Stanley the dog, more than family, because right now all I want is the heartbeat of life, nothing more than that.
Life is enough.
I was away in Brattleboro, Vermont for 2 days. Away from home, from husband, fro m dog, from sangha, away. Found a nice AirBnB 2 miles from downtown, slept, wrote, emailed, read, ate, saw friends. And remembered how much I enjoy my own company.
How is it that some people dread being alone, while others savor it? What happens when you’re left in your own space, no one there to listen out for, no footsteps on the stairs, no dog scampering by the door, no sounds of a television set? Being alone is a disappearing art, what with cell phones, emails, texts