Newtown CT, December 14, 2012

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When I heard the news out of Newtown CT yesterday, I was of course saddened. I stopped working for a while and watched the news reports, worked a little bit more before heading to Providence to watch my son play basketball.

When not directly affected by such tragedies, we absorb the news of them, we process that news (fairly quickly it seems to me), and we move forward.

Next week, for the vast majority of us, life will go on. We’ll put our little ones on the school bus or shout a goodbye to our teenagers as the fly out the door in the morning, and we will do so with only the slightest bit of hesitancy.

I suppose our capacity to push through these types of events is a survival mechanism. Natural selection has weeded out the trait of extended emotional grief. Our ancestors saddled with that trait did not survive long enough to pass it along, and I suppose that is a good thing. I only wish we could find a place somewhere between “crawling into bed and pulling the covers over our head” and “life goes on”.

This week will have a familiar sickening feel to it. We’ll watch the news coverage and walk around a bit dazed. We’ll struggle with the feelings that come with resigning ourselves to the negative in life. We’llfeel it behind our eyes, on the back of our necks and shoulders, and in the pit of our stomachs.

System of a Downer

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It was 9:00 PM and I needed to go for a walk. This is a relatively new thing for me. I have taken to night walking – it relaxes me – clears my head – puts my spirit at peace for 30 minutes. Sometimes I start out with my dog Walter in tow, then I swing back by the house to drop him off and continue on my own – alone with the night – and my iPod. Before heading out on this particular night I made a point of re-synching my iPod, because somehow I inherited 23 “System of a Down” songs from my son’s playlist.

Here’s a truism: There few things in life more abrasive than having System of a Down pumped into your head unexpectedly at full volume. It’s happened to me on several occasions and the experience has literally shaken my faith in humanity.

40 percent chance of rain, 95 percent chance of extinction

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I was sitting on the couch – my son across the room with his smart phone in hand – head tilted downward.

Without lifting his head he flatly stated that there is a 95 percent chance that the human race will be extinct in 9000 years. I immediately thought this was an opening argument for why my wife and I should spring for his school field trip to France. But not a single syllable followed. Apparently he just wanted to share a little sunshine.