Writing: My Small Act

Writing: My Small Act

Dallas broke me. I wanted to write about it when it happened. I tried to write about it, but each time I sat at my keyboard, I froze. Dallas is the city where I was born, the city where I spent my weekends as a teenager, and the city I returned to a few years after my mom died because I felt confused and lost and needed to be somewhere that felt like home. I thought it would be easy for me to write about this place that is so dear to my heart, but I couldn’t; I could never figure out what to say.

When Dallas police were being targeted, I watched the chaotic reporting on TV, while reading first-hand accounts on Facebook from friends who were caught in the midst of it. I suddenly began to feel the same way I did in April of 2013, when the city I now call home was under attack. I remember it well, how I tried not to cry when my daughter came inside to excitedly share how many helicopters she had seen flying overhead, and how I had to tell her the truth: there had been an explosion at the finish line. I remembered, too, how I couldn’t hear sirens for weeks, maybe even months, without being reminded of that day when we were told to stay inside because we were not safe.

This repetition of tragedies paralyzes me. It fills me with the worst combination of dread and fatigue, a pairing that causes me to shut down almost completely. This repetition of tragedies reinforces my belief that sometimes knowing what’s coming is much worse than not knowing. For the past few weeks, I have been stuck in this place of deep sadness, feeling helpless, and trying, in equal parts, to care and not care.

If I’m being completely honest, it’s not just the events of the world that have led me to this place. Personally speaking, July seems to be cursed. July is the month that marks the anniversary of my mom’s death, and the same month when, one year ago, my marriage came to an end. This past July brought an abrupt and unexpected end to a friendship, and also revealed the fact that my daughter, who seems perfectly fine on the outside, is still having a really difficult time dealing with the divorce. And that is to say nothing of the overwhelming bouts of loneliness I have been experiencing. These are not huge problems, I know.  They are my problems, though, and trying to make peace with them while also trying to accept the fact that I’m stuck in an unjust world feels like a huge task.

I’ve been feeling so hopeless I thought maybe I should give up this blog and give up writing altogether. What difference does it make if I write? Who cares what I have to say? I don’t really seem to be able to stop, though. Whether that’s a sign that I am a “real writer” or not, I can’t say. I just know writing is the only way I have of making sense of anything, whether the words come easily or not.

I keep thinking of the Sunday after we learned about Dallas and Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. I went to church that morning because I needed to be somewhere I felt safe and welcome, and I wanted to be with people who are committed to ending racism and violence. During that morning’s service, I listened, with tears streaming down my face, as our minister read comments from a video she posted online of people in our neighborhood participating in a Black Lives Matter vigil. That simple, short video had an effect on people. I had forgotten that seemingly small acts can impact people in big ways, and this is what I keep returning to when I think about whether I want to keep writing this blog or not.

It’s not that I necessarily believe my words are powerful, influential, or even all that good. But it’s something I can do, and I think there are times when the things I say resonate with others. Quite possibly, this blog, although not significant by any measure, is my own small act, affecting people in ways I may never be aware of. With that in mind, I have no choice to keep at it. I’m a lazy blogger, to be sure, and that’s not likely to change. Continue, I will, though, and I thank you for reading.

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