What Would You Do?

The world is steeped in atrocities too numerous to mention; too heinous to repeat. Those walking among us on a daily basis are fraught with worry about jobs, families, illnesses – conditions and challenges that no one outside of their heads could possibly comprehend.

In recent days a family of five was laid to rest in the Twin Cities, victims of their own father’s homicide and suicide. Parents in their 40s and three teens’ lives decimated each with shotgun blasts.

Not a soul alive could wager what this patriarch was contemplating when he ended reportedly happy lives of those closest to him.

What the outside world saw was a successful entrepreneur who started his own website and housed his family in a multi-million dollar palace on a serene lake in the western suburbs. What transpired within those sanctuarial walls, however, was obviously a darker existence.

It’s a sad story that we see and hear all too frequently. A business venture goes bad, a love relationship turns sour, and no future or light appears at the end of the blackened tunnel; misery that takes over seems insurmountable and that depression and helplessness leads to a gruesome finality.

Though I did not know them personally I shake my head in sorrow and regret for the loss of this lovely family and devote little effort to try to get my head around what could have driven this father to his drastic actions.

But shock and disbelief elude me. I understand that level of pain and anguish and hopelessness. I have been there and further. What has saved me – that which this dad could not find in himself – was the inner strength and self-belief.

I’ve always said that our experiences in life make us what and who we are and those who have never been touched by tragedy or illness or sadness are not conditioned to fight that moment of truth when it inevitably appears. They dissolve into panic and delusion and simply give up on everything.

But that’s my take – I’ve always been the bucker of the windmill, the defiant, the one uncontrollable, she with no brakes, the bootheel on the throat of authority.

Because I’ve had to be. The life I have led has left me no other choice. And unlike this poor father I have stepped up to that responsibility with what creativity and ingenuity I possess.

I do not own rose-colored spectacles, I do not have a family to whom I run for support, nor do I have friends upon whom I believe I can depend.

This world is mine and mine alone to traverse.

For that I seek no sympathy or applause. I exist for no one’s amusement or advantage. My goal in life is not the well-traveled path of riches or fame, but that unattainable reward of respect and consideration.

In the past year I have been struggling to find employment. How such time could elapse with no employer exploiting my extensive ability escapes me. In that time and as I continue to search I have sold off my possessions, I have listed my beloved home and sanctuary for sale and I spend most of my days without food, living in a shell of a house that was once a beautifully decorated home while watching my limited finances dwindle.

Some days I melt to the floor wracked with unfathomable sobs and anxiety…and I pick myself back up to my feet and I shake off the cloak of misery that binds me.

I’m am walking, living, breathing proof that monetary wealth is mutually exclusive of being a rich person and that strength comes from within, not from some self-help guru who makes money by exploiting human misery.

Much as with all other experiences in my life this past year has provided immeasurable knowledge and new adventures that require little to no payment: I have become a published novelist, moving from blank sheet of paper to publishing contract within three months. A feat virtually unheard of, I take great pride that shines through my desolation in knowing that I am still talented; still intelligent, still ambitious…and still me.

There will always be something or someone in the world that intrigues me enough to keep pushing forward, no matter how bleak the immediate would appear to be.

I read press articles of this precious family now gone and smirk at the ubiquitous banality ‘oh, they seemed like such a wonderful family’ and ‘oh, the children were so happy and talented’ – views of kindness and shame and regret that will always be spewed when such a tragedy grips a community.

Not me – if I ever committed such an atrocity or fell victim to the same you’d be reading in the paper ‘aw, the bitch had it coming – surprising that it didn’t happen long before now’, and that because I have nothing to hide; no shame to destroy me, no futility that paralyzes me as so obviously did this once-doting father.

Acts of a victim will never befall me because I’ll never be defined as a victim. My life is my responsibility and that for which my actions will answer…no one else, and that means that I and only I have say over how it is lived.

I’d never say that I’d want the entire world to possess my strength or attitude – one of  me on this planet is more than plenty.

I would wish that more humans would find their own strength from within – a beauty that would eliminate such senseless and unnecessary pain in this entire world.

It resides within us all.