Last September, after more than a year of working with a committee to plan and write a grant application, PW received a big fat grant for her sabbatical. This is enabling her to do a lot of travelling this spring. A little more than a week ago, she and I returned from a spending Holy Week on the Isle of Iona in Scotland, with a side trip to London to see Helen Mirren and Judi Dench in their starring roles in two different plays.
This morning, I dropped PW off at the airport for several weeks of travelling to Israel (the village of Migdal in the Galilee, Jerusalem, and the West Bank if she can figure out how to get in), Turkey (Ephesus and Istanbul), and Provence.
We were both teary this morning as we looked at such a long time of being apart. But the kids and I will be meeting her in France–which still seems unbelievable, even though we’ve been planning for it for more than six months, ever since we heard that she received the grant.
When I arrived at my office around mid-day, the neighborhood was abuzz. My building is two blocks from the finish line for the Boston Marathon. My hospital sponsors a team of more than 60 runners every year. Two people from my office were running today. Our events team is heavily involved in making sure that the runners on our team are well cared for, before, during, and after the race. Many people from my office (which is a couple miles east of the hospital complex) stroll down near the finish line to cheer people on throughout the day.
Well, unless you live under a rock, only to emerge to read my infrequent blog posts, you know that shortly before 3 pm today two bombs went off about 50-100 yards apart, near the finish line for the marathon. In our 9th floor offices, two blocks away, we heard the two loud explosions, and our building shuddered. As we gathered at the windows to look for smoke from our 9th floor vantage point, what we saw instead were hordes of people running in panic away from Boylston Street. It seemed to take forever for the sirens to start, but once they did, it seemed like they never stopped. By the end of the workday, the street in front of my building was locked down to cars and pedestrians, and we were directed to leave via the basement, finding ourselves in the alley behind the building.
I’m pretty sure that all my co-workers are accounted for. The two who were running both checked in safe. Safety. Be safe. All over the book of faces, people are telling each other to be safe. I get what that means, and I’m touched by it. But on another level, I wonder what does “safe” even mean, especially after today?
The most persistent thing I am struck by is the question I kept hearing repeatedly on the radio as I drove home on the Mass Pike, which had so little traffic on it at 5:30 pm that it looked more like how it is on a Saturday morning: “Will we ever feel safe again?”
Safety is one of those things that is so subjective, I tend to think that it’s beyond my control. I mean, a year and a half ago, I was sitting at a red light, minding my own business, and some bozo rammed into my car with such force, going so fast, that his car went airborne over mine and landed on its side, in front of my car. I was unhurt, but my car (that is, PW’s car) was totaled. It was yet another reminder, in a world that teems with them, that even when we think we’re being completely and totally safe, we are at risk.
PW is so much more sensible about safety issues. Before she left this morning, we reviewed the two big things I’m not allowed to do when I’m home alone: get up on a ladder and get on the roof. It wouldn’t otherwise occur to me to not do those things just because I’m home alone. This is just one of the many aspects of our relationship in which we complete each other. For all I know, it’s why I’m still alive.
Still, “be safe” doesn’t fit as a watchword for me. It’s not that I want to endanger myself needlessly. But today’s events are yet another reminder that you can be doing everything right and end up cut down by senseless violence and mayhem.
So I think I’d rather Be Love than Be Safe. Be Love is what I want to live by, if for no other reason than the simple fact that it’s a charge I can be completely responsible for, right down to the last breath that I take, regardless of when or how I take it.
Tonight I decided that my ultimate goal is to evolve to the point of choosing to Be Love over every other possible option, at every point of every day. I don’t know exactly what that will look like, or how long it will take me to get there, but I’m pretty sure I need to be in better shape.
Be Love out there, people. Be Love. Who’s with me?