When your heart feels heavy, take a beat
Last night, I stepped on the subway to go home after a busy day at work. While I did read the New York Times, saw the heartbreaking photos and updates streaming in from Vegas, I didn’t have time to stop and feel the emotions of what I was taking in.
So by the time I got on the 2 heading uptown, like any other day, I was scrolling fervently through news apps and Twitter to catch up, seeing countless news alerts, swiping up, clicking into articles, skimming Facebook updates, increasingly feeling a tightness build in my chest.
Like any of us, I felt a physical sensation pulling down on me, like gravity working in overdrive as I read. Death toll up to 59. More than 520 people injured. This wasn’t a normal day for any of these people, for their families and friends, for everyone else who was at that music festival.
This was the worst day of their lives — the start to the worst week, month, year of their lives. Nothing will ever be the same. They will never have their loved one back.
As these thoughts were racing in my mind, I was jerked out of my iPhone world by scuffling to my left. An older gentleman, dapper in a wool suit complete with pocket square and felt hat, had struggled to get on the train — because he was navigating a teetering tower of crates full of parakeets, doves, a cat.
Everyone around the doors was horrified. They covered their noses, exclaimed in dismay, barely holding back their thoughts, “how dare he take up space with his riffraff!”
This man had the kindest, softest, saddest eyes I have ever seen. He looked as I felt in that moment — dispirited. Shattered. And with him was a dog whose eyes mirrored the sadness of his person. My God, I wanted to pet that dog, to talk to that man. But he was across the subway car from me, out of earshot.
I didn’t talk to the man with the kind, sad eyes. I should have. I wish I had taken the two minutes to walk over to him, to ask how he was doing.
Instead, I got off the subway, I walked the few blocks home, I climbed the five flights up to my apartment. I sat by the window that looks out at the city.
I stared out at the faint shadow of the Empire State Building far downtown, its lights gone dark in honor of the victims, an orange halo effect shining a light on gun violence. It was quietly beautiful. And heartwrenching.
I wish for each of the people who needlessly lost or are now fighting for their lives peace.
I wish for each of the people who cared for someone who died or was hurt that they somehow find solace in the company of others and happy memories of that friend, that loved one.
I wish for each of us who are not directly connected, but feel so inextricably linked to and impacted by the trauma we endure after each of these unconscionable cruelties, that you are able to find something that brings you comfort.
Tragedies like these hurt us all, and it’s okay to not feel okay even if you didn’t know someone directly affected. There is no sense in senseless killing, and there is no “wrong” way to feel right now.
Call your mom, put on your favorite song, pour that glass of red wine, walk down your favorite street, gather your friends.
There is so much sadness in this world, so many people who are suffering, and yet — there is warmth. And light. And goodness. And dogs and people with sad eyes who also need love and kindness.
When it feels like there is evil that wreaks havoc seemingly every day on our lives, and sadness in the eyes of people all around us, remember to take a beat for something that makes you feel calm and at peace.
Find the light. I promise it’s out there.
If you or someone you know is feeling overwhelmed and needs help, reach out. No matter what you’re feeling right now, support is available. If you need to talk to someone right away, connect with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 1–800–273-8255 or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.