Five: Facing Tragedy

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“As I swept the last bit of dust, I made a covenant with myself: I will accept. Whatever will be, will be. I have a life to lead. I recalled words a friend had told me, the philosophy of her faith. ‘Life is a journey and a struggle,’ she had said. ‘We cannot control it, but we can make the best of any situation.’ I was indeed in quite a situation. It was up to me to make the best of it.”  – Wangari Maathai

On the night of the 4th, I went to a community gathering to watch “Dirt the Movie” – an ode to the skin of our planet that sustains us through the rich life it supports and a precautionary tale to the perils of mistreating our living soils. Half way through the film, I felt insignificant in my efforts at community building, composting, and gardening. What was I doing to help this global problem? Then Wangari Maathai came on the screen and said that while she may be small she’s doing the best she can (Clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGMW6YWjMxw).

Husband received a call the next morning – a call where the tone became sombre and he removed himself from the family sphere to have privacy. Minutes later, I found out that a friend was involved in a fatal collision with a pedestrian. There are no words. The news slowly worked its way deeper into my psyche, and I realized this was one of those paramount events. A life-changing event. How would we support our friend?

I couldn’t quite wrap my head around the polarity between Insignificance and Significance. My feelings of inadequacy and insignificance could be hidden quite easily, and I am confident that I can move through them by challenging myself. The other, however, seemed like an overwhelming endeavor for our friend – coming to terms that regardless of fault, he had been directly responsible for the ending of another’s life.

Thank you, Wangari, for the words you shared during your beautiful and empowered life. I will be a hummingbird. I will face the problems that look and feel too immense. And when I am called to support those around me, I will do what I can to help them.

Do you pull back or overextend yourself when someone else faces tragedy? How do you strike a balance?

More…

Hummingbird photos from Flickr Creative Commons: s p e x; Don DeBold; and tinyfroglet 

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