Well, it’s been a some kind of week.
There have been bombings, manhunts, earthquakes, legislative shenanigans, flooding, explosions, and even an unhinged Elvis impersonator sending poisonous letters to politicians. In addition to these macro events happening here and abroad, I know other people who are wrestling with personal tragedies far outside the range of television cameras.
I know it’s always easy to believe that the here and now are the most extreme of times, as we don’t always have the benefit of narrative distance, but from a pure headline standpoint, I’m hard pressed to remember any seven day period with so much tragedy spread out so randomly.
My thoughts are with everybody, everywhere tonight.
I spend a lot of time trying to make sense of the world. One of the reasons I travel so much is because I selfishly want the benefit of others’ experiences. I make sure to meet as many people as I can while I’m on the road. Big cities. Small towns. Folks all across the political, class, race, sexual, geographic spectrum. I’m proud to have friends living such beautiful and unique lives.
I often wish I could retire, buy a big RV, fill it with the people I know and just drive around the country introducing everybody to everybody else. Because the truth of my life is that even though I’ve met some jerks along the way, I am endlessly impressed by the decency of people everywhere. It could be that I’ve just been extremely lucky with the people I’ve met, but I’m near certain that for every awesome new friend I’ve made, there are hundreds behind doors I just haven’t opened.
And how awesome is that? How blessed am I to know that there is, for all practical purposes, an infinite supply of strangers waiting to be discovered? Whose experiences and insights I can learn from? Whose stories will make me laugh and understand the world in new and even deeper ways? It’s really awesome. And I take comfort in that knowledge during weeks like these.
I often find myself wishing I could do more to help others, but don’t always have an outlet. Sometimes I want to set up a 1-800 number to talk to anybody who needs to talk to somebody (because we all need to talk to somebody, sometime) or make a mortgage payment for somebody in danger of eviction or feed somebody who is battling hunger. But I cannot be everywhere all at once no matter how much I wish I could be.
Back to the amazing people in my life.
Though I sometimes complain that I am too dependent on the internet, especially social media, I also count myself fortunate to have friends on Twitter and Facebook who seem to share similar sensibilities, who want to help, who want to celebrate the wonderfulness that comes with being alive, here, now. I am consistently amazed by these people and their desire to be a positive force in the world.
Here’s an example—
Earlier today a link showed up on my Twitter feed asking people to donate money to Jeff Bauman (http://www.gofundme.com/BucksforBauman), a gentleman who suffered traumatic leg injuries as a result of the Boston Marathon bombing. A photograph of Mr. Bauman and Carlos Arredondo, the man who came to his aid, has become one of the lasting images from the aftermath.
Reflexively, I offered to send free books to anybody who donated to the charity.
But then I remembered how many other people are suffering in the world, not just from the bombing, but what happened in West, Texas this week, earthquakes that killed people in Iran and China, along with the perpetual suffering of others torn apart by famine, war, poverty, and other misfortunes. I then changed my offer to—
Tyrus Books @TyrusBooks12h
I’m going to expand my earlier offer- If you donate OR volunteer in your community in a meaningful way, I will send you free books. Do good.
Almost immediately I started getting offers from others that they wanted to contribute music, books, and services to the same cause. The generosity and sincerity of others is pretty mind-blowing. I’m currently putting together a list of what’s available, how to verify, and the proposed machinery for how to make it all work.
It’s late now and time for me to go to bed. If tonight is like every other night, I’ll be trying to make sense of the world in those quiet minutes between lights out and sleep. But I’ll also be thanking my lucky stars for having had the satisfaction of one more day around so many wonderful people.
That includes you.