The secret to everything

One word has been on my mind a lot recently: turbulence. Shocking violence has established its own disturbing rhythm. Visits to news sites with multi-column headlines and up-to-the-minute counts of lost lives no longer surprise us. A pervasive sense of hatred and injustice, chaos and fear, choke the air.

When the tragedy is in another city or country, though, the day after is remarkably similar to the day before. We wake up and do what needs to be done. Meetings aren’t cancelled and errands are still run and we still watch that show everyone is talking about. There’s something quite resilient in that.

I’ve also been thinking about one of my favorite scenes from Seinfeld. Kramer tells an epic tale in which he rescues a lost appendage and hops a bus to the hospital. On the bus, he confronts a man with a gun, then takes over for the driver who has passed out. He kicks the assailant off the bus at the next step.

An incredulous Jerry asks, “You kept making all the stops?”

Kramer replies, “Well, people kept ringing the bell!”

That’s what I think of the day after the pain and images and unanswered questions, when we strive for normalcy and do our best to keep making all the stops.

That strength and fierce determination in difficult circumstances is inspiring. But we should also allow ourselves and our neighbors to step out of the routine and acknowledge the weight of grief, fear, anger, and at times, helplessness.

It’s okay to let some of the balls we’re juggling drop now and then. These seasons draw us to what matters to us most. Take a deep breath and pour yourself into who and what that is for you—a community or cause, your friends and loved ones, or something that simply brings you joy. Maybe we give ourselves permission to disconnect from social media for a bit, linger on the water's edge a little longer, volunteer, or take a spontaneous road trip. Maybe it’s just finding the people and space to talk honestly about our questions and emotions.

It will be different for each of us, but when we give ourselves permission, we do the same for our friends and neighbors. We can strengthen one another and slowly find a way forward, together.