Life is fragile. Life is so incredibly fragile.
In January, I attended the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas for the first time. To me, it represented a step up, an expansion in my career as a journalist and writer. I saw amazing pieces of new technology, walked along the strip, saw massive hotels filled with lights and sounds that dazzled. I felt on top of the world.
Then on Wednesday, January 7th, two men shot and killed 11 people in what we now call the Charlie Hebdo shooting.
Thursday morning I walked amongst the booths of emerging technology, robots and drones and smartwatches and the like. Hung in the booths of many French companies and creators, a simple sign read “Je Suis Charlie.” I can’t help but think about that sign today in the wake of yesterday’s shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. Nine people walked into a prayer meeting and never walked out. And here I am, about to attend the third day of E3, the Electronics Entertainment Expo.
I understand that there’s a certain uselessness that comes from staring into the abyss too deeply. Maybe this is just a consequence of aging, being 27 and getting pain in my joints and taking twice as long to recover from poor decisions made the night before. Except, even if that’s the reason, that doesn’t feel like the reason. An aunt has been suffering from debilitating migraines, ones so bad she had to be hospitalized last week. A friend went in yesterday for a back surgery meant to heal her from a spinal issue so painful that sometimes even just walking isn’t feasible. Another friend’s mother goes in today for surgery for her cancer. Another friend suddenly lost her father to a heart attack while she was at summer camp. Unexpected, life-changing situations sprung out of nowhere and unasked for. As resilient as we like to feel we are, as stable as we strive to be, our lives are so fragile.
Every day we take actions that are supposed to be just part of our routine, actions that aren’t supposed to have dramatic consequences, actions that are barely supposed to even be consequential. We bide our time, stave off risks, opportunities, for the “right moment.” We want to make sure that we’re prepared, we want to have everything in order. “Let me save a few more dollars first.” “I’ll call her tomorrow, it’s not a big deal.” “Maybe I’ll go next year, work’s too busy right now.”
Nine people walked into a prayer meeting and never walked out.
Ideally, those people were doing something they loved that Wednesday night, something they truly cared about. But I don’t imagine those people expected they’d never see Thursday. Or Friday. Or their loved ones outside the walls of that church.
Surrounded by video games and virtual worlds, so many of which glorify and highlight killing and combat, the reminder of how sacred a human life really is reverberates at a show like E3. We’re lucky to live in a world of cell phones and flat-screen TVs and an inconsumable amount of content and knowledge to consume. And I say “we” speaking for the privileged few lucky enough to live in countries who also possess the skills and technology necessary to even read the words posted here. Here, in Southern California, the effects of the recent drought show themselves in the dying palm trees, the brown grass, withering plants.
Life. Life is so incredibly fragile.
I don’t have any profound, mind-blowing statement to make. I don’t even know if I have a point. I just know that every time I stop to think about what’s going on around me I really want to cry. And I don’t know what to else to do about that or anything else other than write when I see things like this. The abyss is real, and regardless of faith or belief there are situations that are tragedies and shocking and just plain unfair. And I hate using that word “unfair” because the entire nature of life is unfair and the word loses some meaning and feels childish. But I can’t help but think that children feel real feelings, ones unbridled by jobs and responsibilities and social conventions, so maybe feeling an emotion, using a word that’s “childish” isn’t so bad.
Today, I ask for two things: Please take a moment to reflect, think, meditate, pray, whatever you do, to honor the lives of those nine and the so many others robbed of their lives due to hate. And, for the sake of everything we hold dear, for the good of the people who care about you, the people you care about, and in the names of those slain in cold blood yesterday evening while worshiping in peace in their church, for everyone taken from us too soon due to chance or fate or God’s will or just plain evil, please do something to spread love today. Don’t wait. Because life is fragile, and our moments are fleeting. We talk of wasting time, but time is the only currency we have with true value, one that we can’t make any more of, and one that we never know when we’ll run out of.
Featured image credited to SCVNews.