ginny: on connecting the dots

TAKE ONE

If everything is okay, why do I feel like crying?

Alternately …

If I feel like crying, does that mean that everything is not okay?

When I was a child in grade school, I used to love the connect-the-dot puzzles.  I could almost always see what the picture was going to be before I started.  More than that, I was able to keep about three numbers ahead of myself, seeing where I needed to go for the next number after the next number.  I liked being ahead of the game.  It probably served as a precursor to my job as an air traffic controller, where I am behind the power curve if I am not seeing and thinking at least three steps ahead.  Making sense out of something that seems random and chaotic is easier when you have steps to follow and an end game in mind.  I am not as successful at this in other parts of my life.

Often times, I don’t know where to start.  There is no conveniently marked “1” on a page that indicates I should begin there.  For my two questions above I will get radically different pictures depending on where I  start.  For the first question, and honestly that is where I usually begin, I compile a laundry list of things in my life that could be causing me to feel like crying.  The current list would look something like this: my clothes not fitting, our finances getting a major overhaul, worry about my kids, fatigue from working ten hour days, and general despair over not seeing any of these items changing significantly any time soon.  For the second question, the answer is more straightforward.  Does how my body feel – the pressure behind the eyes, the tightness of my throat, the wail that I keep pushed down – does that mean that everything is not okay?  Or does it mean something else?  Does it mean that my physical body is stressed, my body is tired, my body is crying “enough already!” and I should just go lay the hell down?

Is my body reacting to what my brain is thinking or is my brain trying to explain how my body is feeling?

Have I mentioned recently how complicated it is to be me?  I over-think things like nobody’s business, and I still can’t come up with a finished picture.  There are layers upon layers of thoughts going on, ending up with a Rorschach picture instead of a bunny or a giraffe.

I have my moments though.  There are times, usually when I talking to someone else about something that is going on in their life, where I hear myself saying things that are relevant in my life also.  I never see something quite as clearly as I do when I am trying to help someone else figure out stuff.

When I chose this topic for the week I had just had a major revelation.  I strung together a long series of dots and came up with something that resembled an actual picture that made sense and explained some things and made me see things in a new light and I have no idea what that was.  None.  I’ve been sitting here for awhile trying to remember what my epiphany was, and I came up with nothing.  It’s frustrating, but not uncommon.  I am sure that I will access it once again when I am talking to a friend who is looking for advice or who just wants a different perspective on an issue.  Other people’s pictures are easier to see.

TAKE TWO

This was supposed to be an entirely different post.  I had an somewhat interesting beginning, and a couple of points I wanted to make along the way, but now it all seems meaningless when there are so many people dead and wounded in Aurora, Colorado.

How do you connect the dots when something like this happens?  Can you go back and draw a line from 1 to 2 to 3 and so on until you create a picture of a dozen people dead and more than fifty wounded?  What was James Holmes thinking? How did he get to the place where this was the decision he made?

One person, one lifetime of circumstances and influences, one series of decisions that culminated in an event so incomprehensible that all we can do is hold our loved ones close, and say a prayer.

AND THEN

  •  
  • Ginny Arata Reese

    11 hours ago
    • Are you online?

    • So what I have to say is I have been de-railed. Look at both of my posts and tell me what you think. Please.

  • Julie Levinsohn

    11 hours ago

    Julie

    • Oh, okay.

  • Julie Levinsohn

    10 hours ago

    Julie

    • I like the first one. the second one is an interesting quandary…after having said that it is easier to understand things as we consider what others do or say, you are saying that you have no way to even really process this or to begin to even guess at what and why. So that goes to the fact that there is nothing about what he did that you can relate to yourself and therefore have no way to begin to comprehend.

      You could tie parts of the first one with the second and create something that talks to that point: is the fact that we can in no way relate any of something or someone to our own life what makes some things incomprehensible? Or even if we can see some of it, say meticulous planning, is the intent so far from anything we could ever imagine having for an intent what makes it impossible to see any similarity? Do even basic things that another person does, going to class, going to the store, that kind of thing, just not seem like something we can imagine as something recognizable when we know what the result of all of the both bizarre and mundane parts of that person’s life culminated in?

      If the conclusion is something we can’t comprehend, does that make the dots also things we can’t comprehend? And really, from the outside looking in, as the days go by and we learn more, will it be somewhat unsettling that there are many, many things that in passing, people saw this person do that you do on a daily basis.

  • Julie Levinsohn

    10 hours ago

    Julie

    • Of course there is also the question of when it went wrong. Was he in many ways similar to you or me until a moment when it changed, and what was that moment, and how close have you come to a moment like that…not to decide to do that sort of thing, but have you made decisions, set yourself on a course, that for your life, would appear just as hard to comprehend the whys of.

      Is there something, and if so, what is it, that stops the rest of the population from making the kind of decisions he made. Did he get more angry, more lost, more hurt, more in need of attention, whatever it was or all of what it was. Given the right, or wrong, set of circumstances, what are you capable of and why and why not?

  • Julie Levinsohn

    10 hours ago

    Julie

    • And really, do the dots matter? Maybe nothing before six months ago had anything to do with this. Maybe he broke with all the things that he had just like you or me and left behind all the dots and became the person who committed this act.

    • done.

  • Ginny Arata Reese

    10 hours ago

    Ginny

    • I have often thought of that moment when things go wrong and I have decided there are no such moments, no such singular moments. It’s like a song from a band I like – the band Gary and I are going to see while you are here. The song is called “Slow Fade” and the lyric is “people never crumble in a day.” You could drive yourself crazy looking for that one moment, that one decision that changed everything. I had a friend for awhile – one of the many female friendships that ended in a big “huh?” on my part. Her daughter went from Honor Roll student to heroin addict seemingly just like that. The star of the family was married with three children by the time she was 22, with a physically abusive husband and no guts to leave him. How did Ali not turn out like that? How did Adam not turn out like that? What did my friend do or not do or allow or not allow or see or not see that started the slow fade to a life for her child that, honestly, no parent wants for their child?

  • Ginny Arata Reese

    10 hours ago

    Ginny

    • So then is there a Big Picture, Julie? Is there a something that this is all supposed to look like when we’re done? It is trite to question God’s existence or involvement at times like these, but *do* the dots connect into a meaningful picture?

      I have more questions than answers. I told Ali tonight that I was sorry that this is the world we are leaving her, and she said it wasn’t all my fault. But is it, in some small way, my doing? Not this shooting, of course, but the bigger picture. The Bigger Picture. If I were involved in … and I was going to write “more” but the fact is I am not involved at all in my community … but if I were involved in my community watch or local politics or food pantries or Big Sisters or outreach ministries, would something tragic somewhere down the road not happen?

  • Julie Levinsohn

    10 hours ago

    Julie

    • Well, there are things that have nothing to do with parents, they are simply in the child. I wouldn’t say that was the case in your friend’s situation…there is a hint there if the “star” is involved in an abusive relationship and the other was is abusing herself.

      But the oldest family friends of my parents had three children, two daughters and one son. David was about 5 years older than me I think. He was really, really, smart. And then he was a full blown schizophrenic who had to leave school and came downstairs into the kitchen one night and stabbed his father over and over, almost to death. He was treated and later in life was able to live a very simple life, he lived in a halfway house sort of setting a few blocks from his parents and helped them as they grew older.

      One of their daughters loved to ride horses and was killed when she was thrown from a horse.

      The other daughter is married and has a very cool husband and really wonderful son. They live on the family farm in Wisconsin.

  • Ginny Arata Reese

    10 hours ago

    Ginny

    • No dots to connect.

  • Julie Levinsohn

    10 hours ago

    Julie

    • The parents spent a great deal of time working on a Will that would make sure that David could still live and take care of himself, partly to make sure that Ally was not put in a position to have to make any of those decisions.

    • Then one night about two years ago David got sick and they took him to the hospital and he died about a year ago of colon cancer.

  • Ginny Arata Reese

    10 hours ago

    Ginny

    • Is any of it supposed to make sense? I have these little revelations about my little life and I think they are so fucking important, but then I get shown that none of it is as important as I think it is.

  • Julie Levinsohn

    10 hours ago

    Julie

    • something tragic, big or small, will always happen, Ginny. it is the way of the world. some people say that without tragedy, we wouldn’t realize comedy.

  • Ginny Arata Reese

    10 hours ago

    Ginny

    • No rainbow without the rain? Is that what we are left with?

  • Julie Levinsohn

    10 hours ago

    Julie

    • I wake up sometimes in the middle of the night and think, “How can I be sleeping when there is so much wrong, so much that has to be righted, so much to do!”

  • Ginny Arata Reese

    10 hours ago

    Ginny

    • And no way to know what is happening right now that, once the dots are connected, will lead to tragedy.

  • Julie Levinsohn

    10 hours ago

    Julie

    • I sometimes feel so overcome by a feeling or utter helplessness as I watch the things that happen in this country. but that doesn’t change anything.

    • You do what you can, and maybe what you are supposed to, if you think in those terms, we all have a purpose.

    • It can be as simple as that.

  • Ginny Arata Reese

    10 hours ago

    Ginny

    • For me it has to be as simple as that. The utter senselessness of the Big Picture overwhelms me.

  • Julie Levinsohn

    10 hours ago

    Julie

    • there is your answer and there are your dots.

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