Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Yesterday I was driving home from Anacortes after a very pleasant weekend with my son and his daughters. The traffic was flowing very smoothly and I was listening to the radio, (NPR). I heard the first announcements about the bombs at the Boston Marathon. I found myself weeping. My reaction was so intense it surprised me. I hadn't seen a picture so that reaction was strictly visceral.
I am inclined to react with intensity to any event that triggers an emotional reaction, but my feelings yesterday were influenced by the time I spent in Boston after my daughter's graduation from college. She encouraged me to walk all over the city. So now, twenty-eight years later, the memories I have of Boston are still very clear.
As the announcers talked of the events in Boston, I could easily bring to mind my mental pictures of the area being discussed. I am quite accustomed to listening to the radio as I drive and since I do not watch television my mind forms pictures very easily. I could see the carnage. I could feel the shock and the pain of the persons involved.
My training as a firefighter led me to picture the activities of the police, firefighters and others at the scene. I knew what was happening because I've been involved in similar situations, though certainly not as horrible. My emotional reaction surprised me since one of the parts of my training involves turning off your emotions and handling the job at hand. Now, I can understand that having no need to do that I was able to feel the intensity not allowed at other times.
I made that drive in just under three hours, a record for driving that distance and through the east side of the Seattle metro-plex. I don't believe I've ever made a faster drive. I find that I am able to relive many parts of the drive. I think my awareness of the events around me was heightened because I was feeling with such intensity.
I find myself wondering about the why's of my reactions. I think I have "witnessed" so many events of great emotional intensity. My father fell through the ice on the river where we were skating when I was a very young child and I remember that incident very clearly. I remember the day that Pearl Harbor was bombed and the feelings that surrounded me as I observed my grandparents as we waited for the announcement that Japan had surrendered. I think my reactions to the tragedy in Boston were influenced by my lifetime of memories and the emotions that surrounded the events of my times.
I wonder how many of the other listeners yesterday were equally reminded of long past events? How does our past influence our current emotions? How are our perceptions of now changed by our previous observance?
I am very concerned for the children who were injured in Boston. Those who lost limbs are in my thoughts. How will their lives be changed by their involvement? How many of them will take on those events as a challenge and how many will be defeated? There are so many questions racing through my mind. I think I need to take more time to reflect.