Monday, October 2, 2017

Las Vegas, Tom Petty & the Grip of Anxiety

I woke up at 3:30 a.m. with an overwhelming sense of dread.

My thoughts -- as mundane as a four-hour lecture on the benefits of tax increment financing -- pressed on me like the weight of dirt covering a thousand-foot grave.

Monday - busy day at work. Remember to pay that bill. You'll probably need gas in the car.

Rolling over, I'd hoped to go back to sleep. But the weight of my thoughts kept getting heavier.

I hope we get this roof done before it gets any colder. I hope Molly likes her new apartment. I hope Kelly has a safe trip to Indiana. I hope Kristi has a safe trip to Hawaii.

And heavier...

Dana needs to get his truck fixed.

And heavier...

What if we don't get this roof done?

And heavier...

What if something awful happens to someone I love? 

Sadly, my mind goes into specifics about those awful somethings. I won't go into detail, but I will say I didn't hesitate to tell my Hawaii-bound sister to get her butt to higher ground if an earthquake hits the island.

Have I ever mentioned my irrational fear of tsunamis?

These days I seem to have an irrational fear of everything.

And, as it turns out, logging onto Facebook at 3:30 a.m. is one of the worst things you can do when you're trying to put irrational fears from your mind.

Reports of Active Shooter in Las Vegas

The illuminated headline screamed into the darkness of my bedroom.

I lost track of time as I watched the news reports roll in and grow grimmer by the cycle. The death toll was at 30 by the time my alarm went off. By the time I got to work at 6:20 a.m., "at least 50" souls had been taken from this world by a maniac with a gun in his grip and, presumably, a chip on his shoulder.

I went through my busy day, took care of my busy work. All the while, I thought of the dead, their families. I thought of everyone at the concert, as well as those at the Bataclan in Paris and at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

I don't understand it. I can't understand it. 

I know better than to search for a reason. You'd have to be mad to find a reason for such madness.

But such tragedies seem to make my irrational fears less and less irrational. How can anyone feel safe at a concert anymore? How can anyone feel safe anywhere anymore?

Then, as if taunted by the universe, I learned that Tom Petty -- an artist I'd long ago put on my bucket list to see in concert -- had a cardiac episode and was on life support. Less than 20 minutes after that, I learned a local minister -- someone with whom I had a long working relationship -- had died unexpectedly. He was about my age.

I had every reason to come home tonight and crawl back into bed.

Instead, I came home, dressed in my sweatshirt and shorts and took my dog to the park for a walk.

Just a half mile. Just a mile. Just another half mile. Just one more half lap of the arboretum. 

I walked until my feet hurt. I walked until my leg muscles burned. I walked for all of those who couldn't in Las Vegas, in Paris and Manchester. I walked for Tom Petty and the music he gave the world. I walked for Pastor Justin. I walked until my dog dragged me back to the car.

I walked because I could. It's one thing in this world that doesn't scare me anymore.