I live in Melbourne, and our 2017 didn’t get off to a good start.
We Melbournians were smashed by an event I will only describe as nonsensical. One person caused so much destruction and carnage and many of us cannot begin to understand why.
I won’t go into the gory details, there’s enough in mainstream media. The ensuing pain has touched many. If you were in Melbourne’s’ CBD on Friday the 20th of January 2017, particularly on one of four or five streets, then it didn’t just touch you it kicked you right in the guts.
I have a “I was this close” story, so do two of my close friends. As is often the case with such stories, gratitude soon comes to the fore and we start to realise how fortunate we are. On that day, a handful were not. Their surviving families even less so. Their world is missing a loved one.
The reach and effect this moment in Melbourne has had on so many people, is quite clearly going to be felt for a good while yet. But I’m going to choose how I let those feelings affect me, and it will be positive. I can be of more value to those who feel deeply affected by this moment if I stop talking and keep listening.
But Melbourne is not alone. In recent years, nonsensical events the world over have reared their sickly heads and spewed upon the innocent. And it’s not like we can dismiss our emotions by saying “it’s on the other side of the world”. Nowadays, the world is only an aeroplane ride away.
As a kid, I was raised in the days where people expected you to toughen up and get on with it. Those days were not a mistake, but they did however leave out one important piece. Feelings.
If you’re grieving, then grieve. You damn well go right ahead and express yourself and your feelings. But as I learned in my ‘toughen-up’ youth, be aware of where those feelings take you. Loss and avoidance can go hand in hand and if we’re not careful, they’ll keep us down in the darkness hidden from the light.
If you felt affected by these events around you, regardless of their tenuous connection to your life, express that. If you came home that Friday feeling numb, raw, or confused, it’s most likely because you’re a loving human. Speak it, make it real, then listen out for an opportunity to lend your ears to another in need.
Respect those who remain. Your story is important but remember there’s a small handful who can’t cope with their own story right now. You may not know them, but be strong for them by being mindful of them. Turn off the extended TV coverage, don’t click on that umpteenth online article about what happened. We’re aware OK? Constant recitals don’t help anyone.
Create a positive action from these negative events. Newtons Laws remember? Lynch mobs never did anything but fuel anger and violence. Stand above that primal noise and gather people through a reason to care, not kill. Create a petition, find your local representative, discuss meaningful and useful changes to policy.
Don’t blame, forgive. Forgiveness is not about forgetting, it’s about remembering what happened and creating ways that prevent it from happening again. Blame apportions responsibility onto others and has the risk of removing ourselves from being part of the solution. They did this, not me, make them fix it, why should I help? That position serves nothing.
Grief is a process. Choose to pass through it as best as can be expected. Yes, mistakes were made and I have no doubt details will emerge and we’ll shake our heads in dismay. But that’s the future, and today we need to forgive and allow the future to create itself.
Melbourne, I feel you every morning I walk past your beautiful displays of flowers. Please join me in passing through grief, in creating a place where respect and consideration continue to be shown, and a place where I don’t have to feel guilty that I want us all to keep moving forward. Not forgetting, but forgiving.
Post originally published here.
P.S Yours free, click here for an e-copy of my biography “Shift Your View”.
Simon Sharky Clark
Helping people in business, large or small, to improve performance, shift their mindset, and enjoy better mental health.