We Will Never Be the Same

by Lesley Tabor

September 15, 2001

"We will never be the same." Perhaps there is hope, a deep opportunity in that statement, heard many times in the last few days. As the desire to get back to normal comes up, I find that in some ways, I don't want to get back to business as usual.

I want to remain open to wanting to reach out, to touch, everyone I see in the course of my day, strangers on the street, clerks in the store, other drivers on the highway.

I want to keep the awareness of the monumental unimportance of small irritations. I want them to remain as easy to brush away as they are right now.

I want to keep the understanding that connecting and communicating with each other, families, friends, acquaintances, strangers, is the most important thing.

I want to keep the impulse to generosity alive, the urge to reach out, to give, to say "I can do this."

I want to stay aware that I need to meet my own pain and sorrow with nurturance, and continue to find the resources to find that nurturance. For me that has included taking care of my body. Yesterday, after sharing and crying with others at one of the nation's many noontime prayer gatherings, I had a massage, a luxury I seldom allow myself. I found it deeply healing.

I want to keep open a place in my heart that feels risky to share, yet is very real to me, a place that has come of its own or from spirit, not sought: the place where I do not hate and am not afraid of the people who did this violence, where they simply "are" along with everything else in life, where something in me meets them face to face and simply says "Namaste."

I want to remain open to the recognition of the perhaps the word is "seduction" of violence within myself. Despite my deep belief that violence and war are not the answer and that I do not find any urge to vengeance in myself, part of me is eagerly awaiting the violent response that seems almost certain to come from our government. It as if something in me is drawn to the fierce energy of violence itself.

The wonderfully gentle man who gave me a massage yesterday told me he is a Vietnam veteran, and that he had had to fight the urge of that seduction while he fought that war. He must have been a very conscious being to even be aware of it at the age he was then. I want to remain aware of this part of myself because awareness gives me the choice of doing something other than acting on it, even psychically. Right now my approach to it is a sort of Buddhist meditation response, "OK, there you are."

I want to remain open to the place in me that can walk through fear, the fear of devastation, of loss, of the deadly violence of war and the deep exhausting energy drain of war, and just keep breathing. To keep the ability to walk through that fear and believe that there is a place of spirit that I will not lose.

I want to keep the courage to say what is in my heart, even if I am afraid someone will not accept or understand it.

I want to keep that sense of connection to others, to openness, and to spirit as life does, in many ways, "return to normal," to keep it in the every-day-ness, to keep it as the surges of emotion lessen and the intensity settles down.

These are the ways in which I do not want to be the same again.

Lesley Tabor is a grandmother who writes, does creative dance workshops and rituals, and cleans the cat litter occasionally. She lives in upstate New York. 

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