Kobe

I’m not sure how I want to compose myself for this. Frankly, I don’t know what’s right. I wasn’t going to say anything publicly about this because I don’t know if I should, or what’s best. But, I feel compelled to write something, so that’s what I’m doing.

Yesterday Kobe Bryant died holding his baby girl. I break to write that sentence because the thought of it literally tugs my breath into my lungs and I can’t breathe. I didn’t know Kobe. I didn’t really watch him play basketball. He wasn’t on my radar until every media channel was flooded with his and Gianna’s, his 13-year-old daughter’s face. Yet, I still feel this deep loss that aches. Bluntly, something so horrible is pushed in front of our faces and we can’t take our eyes off of it because it is so horrible, so bizarre, and so real.

A superhero figure was taken down and the entire world shook. When I first heard the news, memories flooded my mind of playing basketball with my elementary students and hearing them yell “Kobe” as they shot each shot. Every single shot. I think about what the shake feels like to them.

I can’t even imagine what his family is going through, god I can’t even imagine. It hurts thinking about that.

When horrible things like this happen first we think about those involved, and then their family members and the people close to them. And then we turn it around into our own lives. We think about how we would feel if this happened to us or someone we know. We try to put ourselves in their shoes, I guess that’s a way we try to understand such a pain.

We see a perspective that we have been aware of in the past but now are forced to see it with a clarity that is so close to home. Life is short, and it’s not promised. All of us were slapped in the face with this reality when we heard the details of the helicopter crash. When we hear something so awful, we gasp, we take air into our lungs. It’s like we’re clinging onto the instinct to live. To feel. Bad things happen in the world every day. We forget this, and we even turn our heads away from it. But this, this snapped our heads back into place where they should be with a reality that is so true, so real. Right now we are living but we don’t know about any second further.

Sometimes I don’t know how to live each day as if it’s my last. Sometimes I don’t know how to cherish every moment and make sure everyone in my life knows that I love them. Sometimes I don’t know how to feel when shit like this happens so mainstream that it rips into every city in America. Sometimes I wonder if I should feel bad for crying for someone I never knew because I feel like I’m not worthy to cry for them, to feel something for them. But, my face contorts anyways and I’m just glad I’m alone while I write this. I don’t know how to relate when something like this happens.

But, for me, it feels natural to cry about this. It feels natural to hurt, to think about Kobe’s family. It feels natural to reflect upon my life and wonder if I’m doing what I should be doing. It feels natural for me to want to call up my people and tell them that I just love them.

As a humanity, we need to feel, we need to live. This horrible accident reminded us all of the importance of this. Hug your people. Love who you love. Try your fucking best and be who you want. Fill your days with what brings you joy. I wish this wasn’t the way we got our wake up call, but when something like this happens we should listen, fuck, we need to listen.

the car wash you walk through

It’s what you get after you go through something that impacts you in such a way that it moves you, changes you, or inspires you. It’s like a patina that glazes over you as if you walked through a mechanical car wash. A film covers your body showing everyone what you’ve been through. Evidence of an experience. You can try to rid of it like so many of us hide what we truly are, but instead it now is your coat, your sheen armor that rather than protecting you, illuminates your vulnerabilities.

The patina itself is love. Or hate. Or sacredness. Or bravery. It’s something you now wear, painfully visible.

It happens when you let something consume you. The ear to ear smile from feeling loved, the pained face of heartache you can’t help but wear, the flinch that crawls up your body when you’re conditioned to expect the worse, or the broad shoulders you carry to prove to yourself you’re strong.

We all want an armor that will protect us. What we don’t realize is that what makes us strong is not what we wear to keep things at bay, but what we see as our truths. If we realize what they are, what we are, our vulnerabilities will make us stronger.

If your weakness is love, then you are prepared for a life of heartache, so you love harder. If you feel hatred, it means you have felt pain, which means you have cared deeply for something and that you can feel that way again. If you are scared, then you know your monster and can stare at it until it doesn’t scare you anymore. If you are brave, then you know what you stand for and have the strength to stand up for it despite any odds.

You are who you are. You have to embrace what you are, what you were, so you can become who you want to be.