Last night as Londoners enjoyed a warm evening, watched the Champions League, drank in the bars and restaurants which surround Borough Market, or simply walked home after a hard days work, terror struck at them. Three men, determined to cause mayhem and destruction lashed out at innocent people simply because they were there.
Within moments the news channels were reporting, often graphic, and frightening scenes. So often when a tragedy is making headlines we can feel we must look, despite the pain it might cause us. Of course it is important to be informed, but the pervasiveness of social media and twenty four hour news means information often overwhelms us.
The London Attacks; It's OK to Look Away
We compulsively refresh and swipe, and even feel that it would be callous or heartless not to keep up with every detail. If we are upset, we feel that we should be stronger, or that we are somehow distracting from the pain of the people who were there. All these terms carry with them the idea that showing strong emotion is somehow a weakness, rather than a sign of our humanity. It is OK to look away. It is OK to accept your humanity, and say, I need to look away, I need a respite from these feelings, I need to turn my face away, to say, I know enough.
Audre Lorde. Imagine a wound; If we pick at it, it runs the risk of getting infected. A simple thing can lead to something far worse. But by the grace of God, I'm still standing. And by that grace, I know it is for the greater good that I cannot yet see. This is a time in transition, but I know for certain that if I can keep standing in this cold season in my life, that God has made me more resilient and more tolerable of adverse circumstances than I ever imagined.
I have always had a deep fear of swimming in open water.
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When I was really young, I almost drowned, and to this day I have some slight fear going into the water at a beach or ocean. But then once I'm there and in the water, things are fine. I know that everything will be alright, and that's an awareness I didn't have when I was younger. All my fears came true, but that was the best thing that could have happened to me.
At times, that destroyed my anxiety. My pain and grief over losing almost everything I cared about was the best thing that could have happened to me, and although I couldn't see it at times, and sometimes I still can't see it, I know it's true now. Pamela Cytrynbaum of Psychology Today echoes the point in an article that explores how grief can cure anxiety.
The worst happened to Cytrynbaum when she lost her brother out of nowhere, and it wasn't even something she was anxious about.
Instead, her anxieties were filled with germs, date rape, identity theft, Ebola, financial instability, and health. She tackled those anxieties through flu shots, insurance, seeing the doctor, and checking her credit rating. She realized she didn't fear the right demons, "so certain I knew what to look out for," thinking she could outrun the wolves coming after her.
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But she couldn't see this one coming. But that's not how it feels," she says. Big time. There is another popular adage I was reminded of recently: Murphy's Law, which states that "whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. I don't see any reason to abide by it and prepare for the worst possible outcome in any given situation or we won't take any risks which is probably why, at 22, I don't think about insurance that much.
But what happens when it actually applies, when whatever can go wrong does go wrong? Well, it's important to note that when we say everything goes wrong, it means that everything goes wrong according to our plans. Sure, no one has close ones dying or unemployment or natural disasters anywhere near the top of their plans, but what we mean more by everything going wrong is just that circumstances turned out drastically unexpected.
It is only that kind of adversity, though, that reminds us of how lucky we are and how good we have it. Paul Hudson of Elite Daily writes that highly successful people "plan and then attack" in these circumstances because "moping isn't allowed. When life is a journey through hell and back, having a scar lets us thrive, but just pressing forward unsustainably with a severe, untreated wound does us no favors. Yes, we have to keep going, but we also need to take the time to stop, too. Seeing our scars as sources of pride remind us that we are more resilient than we ever imagined, and our stories can inspire others to believe in themselves and do the same.
I certainly know the heroes in my life are the ones who have navigated and traversed the most difficult of circumstances and come out on top. When everything goes wrong, we're reminded how lucky we are to even be alive, even when being alive is an ugly thing to go through. And those words are true and always will be while we mentally and emotionally wrestle with these questions. But Betty Draper of "Mad Men" offered succession and counterargument to that quote when she said, "I know people say life goes on, and it does, but no one tells you that's not a good thing.
Looking Good Is Okay
Whether good or bad, though, there was a voice that told me, sometime in the peak of my struggle, that no one can decide whether our circumstances and life going on is good or bad. We decide. And God supersedes us and goes a step even further in the Genesis rule: what man intended for evil, God intended for good.
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Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life; define yourself," Robert Frost said. And so from the outside looking in, someone may say that my life is utter chaos and in ruins. But so what if they're right? They don't define me. But even I say that my life is utter chaos and in ruins.
But so what? God intended for this all to be good. Finding balance. Text Me video out now — Link in bio. A post shared by diggysimmons on Apr 3, at pm PDT. A post shared by diggysimmons on Feb 21, at pm PST. Perhaps I have been for some time now. Many of my perceptions, or misperceptions rather, were overdue to be rightfully shattered. These friends raved about their homelands, and somehow their praise fell upon deaf ears, in part due to that as a child, Africa, to me, seemed branded as less than alluring.
The media and my societal narrative has often viewed Africa with a lens of violence, poverty, and underdevelopment. This portrayal has caused generations of Africans to abandon their own heritage and traditions. I was also fortunate enough to visit the slave dungeons in Cape Coast—small quarters where over a hundred of my potential ancestors were held captive on any given day with no nourishment, suffering in their own feces and urine. As heartbreaking as it was to stand on those grounds, my takeaway—apart from feeling both inspired and devastated—was a galvanized sense of pride.
Thank you to boriskodjoe nicoleariparker badassboz thedebonairdisciple nathanyahhalevi for the introduction to my truth. A post shared by diggysimmons on Jan 8, at pm PST. A post shared by diggysimmons on Dec 31, at am PST. First time in the motherland.