Reflections on 2015

I could fall into his big brown eyes for at least a week.
I could fall into his big brown eyes for at least a week.

Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

We’ve spent some time in my office discussing the events of this past year as we were trying to concept the company holiday card.  After all, 2015 wasn’t a rainbow and sunshine kind of a year.  Facebook released this video which brought me to tears right in the middle of my office: This isn’t the same world I knew as a kid, this isn’t the same world my parents knew as children.  They hid underneath their desks in a futile attempt at protecting themselves from nuclear missiles, threatened by foreign countries.  Today’s children are participating in lockdown drills in case of shooters, teachers are learning combat, the threats are from right on our own turf and they are much more than threats. Schools are no longer the safe havens we once knew where my biggest concerns were whether or not my friends would remember to decorate my locker since my birthday was over winter break, and would I get into the college of my dreams.  I never hid under a desk; the only drills we knew were fire drills, and I never imagined someone would stick a gun in my face just for pursuing an education.

But it doesn’t end there.  This year people were killed for eating in cafes, going to movies, enjoying live music, and attending a holiday party for people with developmental disabilities.  We’ve eaten in cafes, we’ve gone to movies, we’ve enjoyed live music, and we’ve attended events for people with developmental disabilities.  And as I’m reading about all of these horrors, both here in our neighborhood and overseas, I can’t help but imagine what would I do in this situation.  Or even worse, what would Aleck do.  In case of a fire drill, would someone be able to carry him down the stairs?  In case of a school shooting, would he be able to hit the ground fast enough, run into a safe room without getting trampled, would he be able to get the extra help he’d need physically to have a fighting chance of making it out alive? He can’t go from standing to lying down, he can almost run but he can’t protect himself from people pushing and shoving, would he even be able to get underneath a table or school desk? This child was left here: According to this site, witnesses reported the disabled section of the concert hall in Paris was an easy target for the terrorists: And as Aleck has been standing in front of our TV as we watch the news each morning, it’s harder and harder for me not to want to cover his eyes, cover his ears, and hug him as tightly as I can. And I thank the powers that be, the energy of the universe, the magic of genes, that he’s so wicked smart there’s a large part of me that can trust that at the end of the day he’d be no better or worse off than any other child his age in that same situation.  He certainly wouldn’t be left on a bus, that’s for sure, and will probably continue to be the most notable kid in his class for years to come.  After all, school parties end up in parents of classmates I’ve heard nothing about coming up and introducing themselves to me since their child tells them all about Aleck.

So let’s try not to think about what could happen, I’ve been doing it since he was born.  And let’s not spend too much time preparing for the worst, since it could come at any time and take on any form.  And let’s not waste any more energy worrying about what we can’t control since it doesn’t do us a lick of good.  Instead, let’s take action on the problems that are here, that we can fight, that are technically in our control.  Let’s make 2016 about saving lives.  You’ve heard of “Black Lives Matter”, I’d like to start “Your Life Matters” because it’s a problem that affects all of us all over the globe.  It’s gun control so our children aren’t gunned down in their schools, it’s treatment for drug addiction so no one looses their loved ones to heroin, it’s treatment for depression and people on the verge of suicide (this year it was Marty, years prior we almost lost another glorious soul), it’s support groups for families dealing with stillbirth & SIDS having trouble wrapping their heads around what they lost, it’s getting behind Planned Parenthood with every fiber of your soul since a mom’s life matters a lot more than the potential for a new life. It’s a million reasons to get up in the morning, a million reasons to keep putting one foot in front of the other even when those feet are tied to cement bricks and dropped in a pool of killer piranhas who haven’t feasted in weeks.

For anyone who’s read the amazing true story of Louis Zamperini and everything he did to hold on to his life in the gut wrenching book, Unbroken, you’ll realize how much work went into keeping one man alive.  And how the people around him hung onto the belief that he was still alive; affecting their physical health during periods of doubt and despair.  If this much effort and struggle was made all for one man’s life, multiply that by those lost in Paris.  Multiply that by those at the 47 school shootings this year, multiply that by those lost in the streets of my town, Chicago, this summer alone, to addiction, to depression, to war.  Our biggest problem today is that we’ve lost the true value of life.  The domino affect that taking even one life away has on the family they left behind, the children, the parents, the spouses, the siblings, the cousins, the partners, the coworkers, and those we can’t even count because they never had the chance to grace this world with their presence. We are so inundated by numbers of casualties that all it is now is a number.  Six killed in a suicide bombing, “oh, 6, that’s not so bad”.  Really!?!  I know I find myself thinking that when I hear it on the news and then I realize how much is wrong with my reaction.

And then I’m brought, full circle, back to that classroom where I worried so much about all the things that seemed so important at the time.  And I remember Ray Bradbury’s short story, “A Sound of Thunder”.    In full disclosure I didn’t remember the name, I didn’t even remember the author and I recently reread Fahrenheit 451.  But the one thing I’ll always remember is the scene where the main character has traveled back to his present time from his time travel adventure and notices all the changes in his world, and when he looks under his boot he finds a crushed butterfly lying there.  My teenage mind was blown, all of these changes in the world all because of one butterfly.  But we are more than butterflies, we are human beings!  We have the power to end world hunger, to put out electric cars, to cure cancer, to discover life on other planets.  We have the power to love and be loved, to create more lives and pass our love down to the next generation.  Each and every one of our lives should be cherished, by ourselves and by those around us.  So instead of throwing your energies into worries, nightmares, and the darkest holes of your hearts, throw your energies into creating change in this world.  It’s harder than it sounds, its easier than it sounds, it’ll take all of us to make it soar.

What do you think?