Thursday, March 13, 2008

i m p a c t

I saw a squirrel get hit by a truck today. I was driving home after dropping Simon off to be groomed and saw a squirrel dart into the road. I had time for a sharp intake of breath and he was down. Hit by the truck speeding ahead of me who neither swerved nor slowed.

It looked instantaneous. Although I'm pretty sure I saw a split second of surprise or fear or confusion as the vehicle hit his body. Very fast, but unmistakable: an open-mouthed, paws-up reaction to impact. Which was difficult to see and still sits with me now in my chest as I recall the event.

There is so much dying in the world right now. And I certainly don't suggest the death of a squirrel running across the road carries the same import or effect as the death of a human being in the local or national arena - at least, not for most.

But I do wonder if we are sometimes exposed to these smaller, seemingly insignificant deaths in order to remain sensitive to the larger ones. It's as if taking in mass casualties on a human level can be too overwhelming, too big, too frightening to fully comprehend. And we lose the ability to feel, mourn, and process the loss of each life.

By opening ourselves to fully experiencing even the smallest of deaths... we are more able to remain open to the ones that hit closer to home, link to more loss of life, or elicit more primal and real fears of our own in response.

I said a little prayer for the squirrel. And then said a prayer for all of our soldiers in Iraq, and the Iraqi citizens, and the many who have died in Israel and Palestine, and NIU, and Virginia Tech, and Afghanistan... I tried to remember everyone and to include everyone.

Which lately can feel very overwhelming.

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