Despite the horror unfolding around us both in this country and other parts of the world, life has an uncanny way of just plodding along. It’s almost like a two-tiered continuum, one filled with pain, terror, loss, and sadness, and one that holds the everyday, regular stuff of life. At least that’s how it feels to me right now. My work as a news reporter and editor currently keeps me focused on war, antisemitism, underserved populations, and social justice challenges. But, I also cover lifecycle events, community happenings, profiles of people doing amazing things, and other upbeat topics. I’ve also recently been faced with some practical challenges that sometimes leave me questioning whether to stay in my job or leave to find greener pastures. And alternatively, I learned I won a prestigious journalism award. So, you see, two tiers of life happening at the same time.
What to make of all of this? My mom used to say that all of life is yin and yang. The good is necessitated by the bad, the joy is sweeter because of the pain. Honestly, I thought it was ridiculous at the time. I couldn’t comprehend what she meant. I railed against loss, frustration, and disappointment. I raged at injustice as a completely unnecessary evil. And I shut out the thought of ever losing someone I love, ever.
The thing is, no matter how hard we try to hang onto our youthful idealism, life keeps on happening. It changes us. And I don’t mean to suggest change is bad. On the contrary, I believe change is both good and necessary. That was also a lesson I learned from my mom. In order to stay afloat in the stormy seas of life, it’s important to be both anchored, and buffeted by the wind. So, I remain optimistic and hopeful in the face of tragedy, but I also hold onto the lessons and memories of those who anchored me and even in their absence, continue to be my anchors.
I recently learned about a nonprofit organization that is working to rescue people in the Eastern part of Ukraine and get them to the safer Western part of the country. The rescue efforts began with children who are orphaned or in foster care, and now has expanded. I heard stories of bravery and fear, pain and joy, loss, and excitement for the future. Again, two things happening at the same time. In another part of the country, the Mayor of L’viv is planning a fundraiser to create a hospital to care for, and help rehabilitate, civilians who have lost limbs in the war, and to provide prosthetics to those who need them. A fundraiser while war rages all around. I’ve heard that in some parts of the country, it’s even hard to tell war is happening, while in others, cities have been reduced to rubble.
As for the mass shootings that have happened since I last wrote for this blog, I actually have nothing that makes sense of that. During the last month, a childhood friend lost a child to an accidental drug overdose, and I lost a cousin to pancreatic cancer. All these losses feel unreal, random, senseless. And they are.
So, what’s the flip side of these tragedies? I don’t think there is one. They are just horrible things that happened. Much like my younger self, I am filled with sadness, rage, and disappointment. Right now, it’s hard to see the other side, but my mom’s voice keeps me anchored while the storm blows around me. That voice inside that tells me to keep going, keep loving, keep giving to the world, keep hoping. I’m still here, still learning, still growing, still changing. Maybe someday it will make some sense.
About Barbara Dab
Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant. She is the Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner. Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world. The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at www.jewishobservernashville.org . and follow her on Instagram @barbdab58
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