Wonderful!

It’s always a fun day over in my corner (but it just becomes especially wonderful on the days that people show me that they appreciate what I write, like today!). Many thanks to theseeker for sharing not only these awards (Shine On Award and Because You’re Fantabulous Award)with me, but also her marvelous words. If you want to know a secret, I  just figured out how to make words turn blue so they can act as links and I am incredibly proud that I can more easily share awards with others now (I know, my technological competence is astounding right?), so for all of you who take time out of your day to read my words, thank you so much. You are my inspiration! Please take these awards if you like, because you sure deserve them!

As the awards say, Shine On, because you are all Fantabulous! (Get it?) 🙂

1. Irene

2. Petrel41

3. adinparadise

4. maryamchahine

5. Seyi Sandra

6. ourlifeinaction

7. vandevebram

8. stuffitellmysister

9. Jess

10. angel313

The Memory Guard

 

            There are certain memories held tightly by each of us that induce such a strong nostalgic happiness and magic that we feel if they were ever allowed to fall through our fingers, so too would a beautiful piece of ourselves vanish from our lives. These memories are formed from actual experiences, ones that could not have come to exist in the beginning if we were not blessed with a free country in which we may prosper and savor life. One such memory of my own, which replays each time with as much sweetness as when I first experienced it, took place in a frosty winter in Pennsylvania.

My parents were taking me, my brother, and my sister to get ice cream. As we made our way down the mountainside, we rolled down the windows and the wind readily swept my hair in all directions with a 30 degree gale. I sat in the front seat, body cocooned in the warmth of a down feather blanket, head out of the window, and face to face with the frigid current. My eyes raced through the blackness of the night, up the towering pines that surrounded me, and jumped to the glowing moon. I was ready to take on the world as I was lost in the complete awe-inspiring majesty of night’s serenity and the icy chaos that enveloped me. My own, and everyone in this country’s ability to re-live our most cherished experiences is extended to us only as long as we also have the ability to live them for the first time. It is this privilege that we have, the privilege to experience a beautiful and free country of which we may later reminisce, that is guarded and protected by the men and women of the Armed Forces. For this service, we honor and remind those lost in the strides for freedom that they are not forgotten or taken for granted, but appreciated and respected on Memorial Day.

            For many of those who enter the Armed Forces, their personal enjoyment and making of cheerful memories is selflessly forfeited so that they may preserve the joy of the many. They willingly lay down their lives for the cause of providing us with privileges that the people of so many countries find unfathomable. Their commitments often wreak havoc in their lives during their absence, and with those blessed with the occasion of a safe homecoming whom we honor each Veterans Day, upon their return as well. Marriages are strained, childhoods are missed, homesickness runs rampant, injury is likely, and depression is common.

 Does not this exceptional level of loyalty and sacrifice on our behalf deserve exceptional recognition? In a world where we take far too much for granted, Memorial Day is one where we must pour out our sincerest thanks and respect as a token of our appreciation for what they have given up. As Veterans Day reminds the recently returned soldier struggling with PTSD that his pain and altruism were not and are not in vain, and proves to those who proudly adorn their silver hair with their military cap that we as a nation still understand the importance of what they fought so valiantly for, Memorial Day reminds the American people of something equally as important. It reminds us of those who fought so that little girls could wrap their tiny bodies in a warm blanket, and so we can have the occasional leisurely ice cream trip, and so we can all experience the exhilaration of knowing that the country we live in is a free one.

The men and women of the military, past and present, have given and continue to give us the liberty to take on the world, as I felt that I could on that November night, through their allegiance and sacrifice. They allow us to partake in the magnificent experiences held by a free nation, those which we may later re-live as sweet memories. They are our Memory Guard, and for that, we honor them this Memorial Day.

The Pirate Queen

 

                 She turned to my mother, “I’ve never had one morsel of red meat my entire life.” Almost in a giggle she added, “look where that got me.”

            The anti-social, impulsive child that I was, I laughed, a little too loudly, along with the rest of the adults in the parking lot that sat adjacent to the schoolyard and church where the rest of the little ones created a cacophony of gleeful screams. “That’s mine-s!” and “Tag! You’re it-s!” all harshly brewed together to produce the discordant song of a Sunday afternoon.

            I made a mental note to ask mommy why that was so funny later.

            To me, Mary Cerami was beautiful, in some aged and peculiar way, funny more often than not, and tall. So tall…well at least from my five year old perspective. She looked like a queen with an eye patch. What I didn’t and couldn’t understand for many years was that her lovely face was kissed with those wrinkles not by the gentle lips of time, but by something that surpassed description with even a word such as vile, or monstrous, or deranged. The word cursed with the task of describing this sadistic disease that was slowly annihilating this woman from within herself hid somewhere in the depths of a cave of language, where no tongue had yet had the satisfaction of reaching and pronouncing its acidic syllables. It crouched in an infinite chamber that had no lights, impossible to find. No pen that had yearned to discover its hiding place had yet succeeded. All had slouched in defeat, using a word that would not torture the ears when heard or blister the eyes when read. Malicious or morbid would suffice, but still it could be felt, lurking there, just out of reach.

            Perhaps she was well acquainted with this word. They may have had quite an intimate relationship. If they did, if it did haunt her relentlessly, she made no indication of it visibly. She did not plague her permanent stadium of cheering fans with her obvious discomforts and undoubtedly horrifying thoughts. She marched forward with love and God in her heart with her husband’s hand in hers, and the support of hundreds held tightly in the other. She smiled, she made jokes, she laughed at these jokes, and she prayed to the Lord who had blessed with the life that she had been given.

            That Sunday afternoon changed my life. While everyone was busy talking about “adult-y” things as I saw it (the reason I had promised myself that I would never be an grownup, as they were painfully boring), my little fingers slowly weaved their way through the ugly skirts, khaki, and pantyhose that so often choke the pews, and gave the slightest tug on Mary’s skirt. She felt the pressure and immediately looked down. Being quite the opposite of shy once I got myself going, I peered right into her face and demanded to know why she wore an eye patch.

            “Well you see…It’s because I’m really a PIRATE!” She burst out and proceeded to tickle me until I was a pile of furious resignation on the floor.

            “NO! Why are you REALLY wearing the eye patch??” I persisted, emphasizing the “really” as if I was the smartest human being on Earth for interpreting the fact she wasn’t telling the truth.

            She smiled and ignored my parents’ horrified expressions and went on to explain in that adult voice that I love to be addressed in. There was nothing that I hated more than to be spoken to as if I were an infant. Googaa talk…after all, I was five years old. It was at this time that I first realized that I really enjoyed this woman, and that we should be friends. I also instantaneously became aware of the fact that she was very sick and that the eye patch helped her headaches to be ones of less severity. A get well card was clearly the solution to this cold that she had.

            With my plethora of friends (sarcasm), I managed to fit her in frequently for play dates. We had grand old times together with plenty of adventures, toe painting, and of course, we always sat together at the church service every Sunday. It had rocketed from my least favorite to the absolute best part of my week, all because of my first friend. I taught her how to hold hands and skip, because, understandably, Iwas the only one in the world who knew how to do it, but I would let my secret slide just this once. I had forgotten she was sick. After all, if you were sick, you were stuck in bed all the time, and your mom would come and give you lots of soup and Popsicles.

            As I spent more time with her, I learned countless things about how to treat people, when to talk, and when to keep my mouth shut. She talked to me about God, and how miraculous he is, and how to appreciate things, because when the grass that you always complained was itchy is gone, you always remember how thrilling it was to get the blades stuck in between your toes, and how soft it was. You didn’t remember that it hurt when you stepped on a pricker.

            With these fantastic new and improved “social skills” that I came to possess, I became engaged with kids my age and made some friends. In the midst of all of these novelty distractions, I became less and less aware of the fact that Mary could not come and play as often as she used to.

            Her disease was closing in on this amazing woman I had come to know and love. It was running wild inside of her, crashing and bruising and tearing her to pieces, like a bull trampling through a once delicately furnished living room. The cushions were slashed. They bled stuffing out into the fireplace which immediately ignited and roared upward in licking motions to the ceiling, the curtains their medium. Vases were shattered, and the shards could be found imbedded into the tattered walls which were once adorned with smiling family portraits. The idea of a flawless paint job once residing in the room now seemed like a preposterous idea. The sleeping family rested peacefully in a world of dream one floor up as the flames ascended the stairs.

            One of the last nights I saw her, we spent most of our time in the wonderfully decorated living room of hers, as she could not do much else. I was aware that she was sick, but, as most five year olds are, still ignorant to the severity of her situation. I turned to her and asked one of those questions that you regret for the rest of your life.

            “When are you going to die?” I inquired, completely heedless of the fact that my question probably burned like fire in her ears.

            “The doctors said that I have a hopeful two years,” was her answer. It was delivered through smiling lips.

            I disregarded the answer as alarming and gave a nonchalant, “OK,” not understanding that to everyone over the age of eight, two years are gone before you can remember what you had for lunch.

            We had a wonderful time the remainder of the evening, although I’m sure my question haunted her conscience long after I departed that night. I did not leave, of course, without a very large hug…

            The following morning, I awoke to a crinkle in my ears and squealed with delight at the sight of a present on my pillow. It was the candy bead set that I had so fervently spoken of with Mary on a number of occasions. It was accompanied with a small card that told me how much I meant to her and that she was so glad we were friends. She told me to be brave and that she loved me. It was Sunday, so, for obvious reasons I was ecstatic about thanking her for my wonderful present.

            I ran to Sunday school, as if the sooner I arrived, the sooner I would get to leave. When the “a” of “Amen” was made audible in the prayer, I was only a figment of the classroom’s imagination. Perhaps they had placed one too many prayer mats on the floor that day.

            I plopped down outside the chapel door as their last notes of song were ending, and anticipated Mary’s exit with an almost unhealthy excitement.

            She never came.

            I waited every Sunday, but she never came. Mom wouldn’t be fair. She would pick me up and make me go out to the car. Once, she had to drag me. The thought never came to my mind to ask where she was, until I was lying in bed with my mother one night. Night time and stars always made me think of death and Heaven, and its permanence would either terrify me so much that I was rendered unable to speak, or lull me to sleep with the thoughts of angels and their singing.

            I turned to my momma, half buried in a cocoon I had built in an attempt to hide myself from what I was now beginning to realize.

            “Mommy, is Mrs. Cerami…?” My eyes flitted to the stars.

            “Yes hon, I’m so sorry,” was all she said, and I crawled right up into her arms and cried for my friend. I cried for the sweetest, bravest, best friend I could ever have wished for.

            I believe that people who are real heroes do not call themselves the latter. My ears hear the word hero, and my mind hears Mary…Mary…Mary, over and over again. I will never forget that smile she wore until the end, and my, she wore it well. Fighting through horrendous headaches and nightmarish treatments, she never spoke of her pain; she only went faithfully on to be the most incredible example that a human being could be. Bravery may be an understatement. The correct word may not exist in any language, or it may hide in a chasm similar to in which the disease’s word lies; in a cave somewhere out of reach. I will continue to search for it, but for now I will call her a hero. I most certainly am not a hero, but if I ever am to become one, I will be able to tell, as I know exactly what one looks like. Every time I face a challenge, I think of her and accomplish it, because I know that she had a much larger task set before her than any one of my miniscule problems. Do I still find myself acting like a spoiled brat at times? Of course, but when I notice it, it sure disappears in a hurry. I don’t let others around me get away with it either, because there are so many terrific things in life to pour your energy into, none of which include griping. I used to cry for everything. After she touched my life, there is only one thing to this day that makes me cry. I am strong. I can handle anything that comes my way, and knowing this, I put myself out into the world for more opportunities to present themselves, and I take each head-on with a vibrancy of step.

            I am not afraid. The night does not scare me anymore.

Inconspicuously Monumental

Well hi there you guys! It feels so good to be posting something again and being able to take the time to write something that I actually care about with school having been so demanding the past couple of months! But summer is here and that means that so is my me-time, so here is the first of many celebratory summertime writings! I hope you all have been well and will enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it! : )

Inconspicuously Monumental

Before my parents were parents, they were married, and before they were married they got to know each other, which is presumably a good thing to do before they decided to commit the rest of their lives to one another. But even before that, there was one solitary moment in time through which they had to pass in order for them to reach those milestones; they had to meet.

  They locked eyes in the crowded lobby of the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City, and that marked the beginning of the rest of their lives. My mother’s friends were preoccupied with ordering appetizers at the lobby’s bar, and even though their eyes saw her standing there as she looked out across the bustling room, they noticed nothing more than just that. The bell boys hurried back and forth dutifully, eyes brushing past her, but minds on floor five’s guests awaiting their plaid suitcases with golden tags. “Three blankets please”, to room 608 for the housekeeping employee dashing by, her last task for that evening’s shift before meeting her friends for a celebratory drink across the street. In the center of the room, a young family occupied two couches; the mother looking happily exhausted as she conversed softly with her husband. They kept a close eye on the whereabouts of their toddler, who had recently discovered how to use her legs, and on the father’s knee rocked a sleeping infant ever so slightly from left to right, and then back again.

Among all of this fluid chaos stood my mother, swaying in her new dress and rolling her toes inside her flats. She absolutely despised heels. However, underlying that guise of a young woman ready face the world with vivacity in her wake was a very disparate mindset. Just days before, she had halfheartedly ended her five year engagement to her fiancé, and still found herself questioning whether her choice had been the correct one. In her heart, she knew that, though painful it was, this end was not one of finality, but rather it had just propelled her into a happier chapter of her lifetime. Her mind, on the other hand, had not yet managed to glide past such an extraordinary digression from her daily norm, and so she consciously viewed the room around her with a disheartened manner, her eyes falling on each male individual with dismay.

My future father stood, halfway descended from the mezzanine floor steps to the lobby, speaking to a group of friends every bit as oblivious to all that Destiny had just prepared for him as those who darted by in the florescent rhythm of the lobby. In that moment, if it were possible, my mother’s shoes could now see my father’s, and as I hope could be the case, my father’s shoes recognized that the feet inside of those adorable flats would be the ones that would walk alongside his own for far longer a time than either pair of footwear would last. Unfortunately, as I do hope at least the majority of level-headed individuals are aware of, leather and polyester are not the most profoundly gifted communicators in the world, and so they merely awaited the moment that my father’s steps reached the same marbled tile under which my mother’s feet lay in the breathlessness of anticipation.

It is the moment that followed that I find the most astounding of all, as its rarity is largely undetermined, yet it must certainly occur before each of our very eyes a good number of times in our lives. The man and woman that would find themselves feeling more secure, intimate, and loved with one another than any other moment of their lives thus far; two people who would tie two family lines together, devote their lives to one another, and make a family together were about to meet, and no one in the room knew. Not one of the 50 some-odd souls nonchalantly accepting the existence of the young man and woman at separate corners of the lobby understood the significance of the exact moment that the two became aware of each other, and neither did my mother or my father. As my mother locked eyes with my father for the split second before they each turned their attention to the other goings-on of the room, she literally looked him up and down, and muttered, “Ugh.” Just another guy, dressed to impress the ladies.

My dad, on the other hand, thought mom was pretty hot, but then again he also thought the brunette receptionist, the guest in shiny black stilettos catching the elevator to floor four, and the woman sipping on a bloody mary at the bar were fairly attractive as well. Regardless, their initial reactions to one another were no more than the standard acknowledgement that the other existed, and although no one could blame them for reacting otherwise (afterall, they had never met prior to that point), I am perpetually dumbfounded that an instance of such monumental implications such as this can pass by with such an utter lack of notice.

With this thought, I can’t help but speculate how often I pass by this very same occurrence without every realizing the splendor with which two people’s lives have just been irrevocably altered, just as the occupants of that lobby went through the motions of that evening completely unaware. When each of us sets out on our daily path, how often do we pass by these remarkably inconspicuous meetings? The man turning to take the order of the woman in front of you; their meeting most likely will never be of significance, but you have to think, “What if?” And you will never know the difference, but doesn’t that add just a bit of excitement to it all? My parents, for one, will tell you that it does.

The Page Turner that is Earth

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September 11th, Katrina, Hiroshima, Columbine. She remembered these names because she is the very same as every other soul with whom she has ever crossed paths. Their names trigger an instantaneous recall in the mind of all who hear them spoken. The eavesdropper at the next table over sees the tidal path of destruction in the wake of the monstrous hurricane as quickly as the one being spoken to directly is taken to a scene of smoke-infused sirens and the crunching of metal. She too knew these names by heart, for their tragedy made them unforgettable. Humanity’s insatiable interest in misfortune made her remember. This same compulsion that all have to memorize the ugly, to highlight the miserable, is the same force that eclipses the world’s view of the good, and so while it made her remember, it also made her forget.

She hoisted her fifty years out of the chair at the sight of a young couple in their teens and tenderly made her way to their corner of the coffee shop. It was to them that she pleaded for her theory of the world to be false, and it was, but she could not understand why. Her words painted the two a story of a young girl who learned how to avoid a drunken rage at age four. While mother was swallowing what hurt, stepfather became the monster hiding in the closet, and she spent each night in that top bunk of hers praying that the doorknob would not begin to turn. But then she heard of Columbine as her adolescence melted into adulthood, and Aurora, and Newtown, and her opinion of the world was set. She apologized to the incredulous couple for society’s inability to give them a solid and proper foundation from which to brace themselves and grow. She confessed her bleak hopes for the youth of the world to be appropriately raised as human beings rather than deranged psychopaths.

What she did not openly declare, but the boy and girl could see, was that she believed love was a myth. She believed childhood was a horror for all, and that life was largely void of goodness, filled instead with morbidity. They tried to quell her fears, telling her of their own childhoods that were filled to the brim with compassion and merriment, but she was steadfast in the world that she had chosen to see. Or had she really been the one to make that decision? When the universe continuously chooses to broadcast the good, the bad, and the ugly, but mostly the bad and the ugly, there are lost souls like that of the woman in the coffee shop that will never come to learn the error of their perception. It is not that humans crave disaster, or that they take pleasure in the misfortune of others. It is simply the fact that, for what ever reason, they are interested in the unfathomable catastrophe, and so that is what they show themselves.

When she exited the shop that night, the woman entered a world that she saw to be losing a great battle to the evils of society. Her world of war was her own, and rather unfortunate, but who could blame her when all she saw after her childhood of struggle was more of the same? If a foreigner were to visit Earth, their only introduction being a seat in front of the nightly news, they would not feel very inclined to extend their visit. But, turn that nightly news into a thriller novel, and from the comfort of his home far away from all the “yuck” of earth, I’m sure it would be a page turner.

Well Cool!

very-inspirational-blogger

Thank you to petrel41 at http://dearkitty1.wordpress.com/ for nominating Cambria’s Corner as an inspirational blog! As a matter of fact, getting nominated is a bit inspiring in itself to know that people appreciate my love of writing!

Dear Kitty blogs about anything and everything from science to art to politics. Any interest of Dear Kitty’s is followed up by a fascinating post on the subject that many readers enjoy!

The rules are to thank and link back to the blogger who has nominated you, then post the award logo to your blog, write a post on the nomination and nominate 15 other very inspiring bloggers. Notify them; and tell 7 things about yourself.

Alright, so now I’m supposed to tell you 7 things about myself. Seven Cambria things are…

1. I cannot stand drinking soda unless it’s Dr. Pepper or Orange Fanta. The bubbles hurt my tongue.

2. I have never, nor will I ever have wisdom teeth. They just don’t exist in my mouth!

3. I have a photographic memory when it comes to speeches. I can memorize 20 minutes worth of words and not forget a single one.

4. I was born an ADHD child, and will remain that way forever. I don’t shut up, I do things without thinking, I have a nonstop river of ideas whizzing through my head, and my life thus far has consisted of my mind numbing quest to control myself, and more recently the beauty of still having so many ideas and insights AND the ability to live properly with them: )

5. My favorite weather, by far, is cold, rainy, stormy, with clouds all around : )

6. I love milk. I order it at restaurants while everyone else is asking for their fancy drinks.

7. I have never been able to spell restaurant. I had to Google it to spell it just then : )

With that said, I’d like to nominate the following bloggers for this award, as I find them to be inspirational additions to the blogging world!

1. passionwriting
http://passionwriting.wordpress.com

2. Littlesundog
http://littlesundog.wordpress.com

3. wandergeselle
http://wandergeselle.wordpress.com

4. ourlifeinaction
http://ourlifeinaction.wordpress.com

5. ohhhoney
http://ohhhoney.wordpress.com

6. thebettermanprojects
http://thebettermanprojects.wordpress.com

7. Cassidy Frazee
http://wideawakebutdreaming.wordpress.com

8. Seyi sandra
http://seyisandradavid.wordpress.com

9. jumpforjoyphotoproject
http://jumpforjoyphotoproject.wordpress.com

10. maryamchahine
http://maryamchahine.wordpress.com

11. stuffitellmysister
http://stuffitellmysister.wordpress.com

12. vandevenbram
http://vandevenbram.wordpress.com

13. marilagsjourney
http://www.marilag.net

14. karolinemeador
http://karolinethekat.wordpress.com

15. Ioana
http://101words1photo.wordpress.com

Thank you again, and happy Saturday everyone : )

Scarier Than Any Physics Test

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If no one has told you yet, I’m a bit of an English buff. I don’t dabble much in the world of math or science, nor do I care to. For myself and all of the others out there who’d much rather write a compelling novel than a 978 page thesis on how to build a rocket ship out of pond algae, we get each other, including our innate dread of physics tests. So if you’re one who finds themselves at home among the realm of nuclear astrophysics, you’re going to have to refrain yourself from judging me and the countless others who can attest to the fact that the prospect of an upcoming physics exam is not conducive to a good night’s rest. It is just horrifying to ponder on. And even then, after every sickening time I have been assessed on my physics literacy, I have never felt more fortunate to be exiting a lecture alive as did today, and we didn’t even have an exam.

I had been deeply investing myself in my quest to discover the exact proportion in which the displacement of fluids influences the effectiveness of hydraulics (thrilling, I know) when we were ordered into a lockout of the campus. All doors were locked, students passing through were ushered inside rooms, and the lights went out. We stood at once and were instructed by a faltering voice to occupy the utility closet at the back of the room. With a nauseating aura of familiarity, our minds instantly shot to the cliché report of a falsely concerned newscaster standing in front of police cars, ambulances, and weeping chaos. Behind that, a school. Why did I not have enough fingers to count the number of shootings recently featured in the news as I counterproductively fixated on the worst scenario possible this morning? Why did I even have to raise one finger?

Danger elicits a tiered set of responses. I learned that this morning. At the base, the most nonchalant of the three tiers is indifferent acknowledgement, and then come the other two, increasing in intensity as they do with height placement.

                                Fear or Emotional Overdrive

                Genuine Concern

     Indifferent Acknowledgement

Today, I passed through all of these, graduating from each of the first two until I reached the insight, and dread, of the third.

When news of a threat or tragedy reaches each of our spheres of awareness, we react minimally, unless it is our own. When we learn of a child who was shot and killed, our immediate reaction is to feel sorry for his or her parents rather than the child’s experience, and then forget after we’ve paid our “ethic dues” of the internal reflection of remorse which occupies a fraction of a second’s time – unless it is our own child. Our response to the distant loss of a stranger is more or less an indifferent acknowledgement, a simple nod of the heart at the close of which we resume our normal patterns of life.

I am not here to say that human nature is a deranged version of narcissism in which we live our lives as uninterested and self-serving beings void of empathy because our lack of interest in other’s tragic affairs. On the contrary we, excluding a few examples, are relationship-oriented, and for lack of a better description, love-loving people who experience authentic distress when learning of another’s pain. However, the time spent in this state of unease regarding the misfortune of someone not personally acquainted with us is almost infinitesimal in nature. On that note, I am also not here to propose that we are heartless individuals on the basis that we allot minute periods of time to sorrowfully reflect on these calamities. Individuals who choose to live above ground have to learn how to adapt to the ever-flowing influx of negative information. If they were to spend the time that a close family member does grieving for a lost soul every time one was reported on the news, theirs would be lost as well before they had time to live.

With that said, I am at a loss when it comes to finding a middle ground between not caring enough and caring too much. Is the reason that such horrific disasters can affect us so little because we’ve been desensitized by a perpetual tsunami of them? Should we care more than a few seconds of our day, or is the minimal regard to others’ pain the only way to protect us from the everlasting ebb of grief’s tide?

Of course, when enough examples of a specific type of incident accumulate in the mind’s queue, such as school shootings, the probability that we perceive for the reoccurrence of that episode in our own sphere of living grows astronomically higher. It is when tragedy appears often enough that we start to worry it could affect us somehow, that we experience an actual concern for the outcome of the event rather than a simple acknowledgement that it occasionally exists and happens to other people, or the second tier.

And then, of course, there is the appearance of legitimate fear or an emotionally charged craze. The lump in your throat, the uncontrollable pounding of your heart and within your temples, the overwhelming perception of doom, the whole deal. This is the feeling that occupied that closet. It seeped through the walls and pooled onto the floor, filling the room with a noxious gas of tension and terror. Immediately, I had gone from a general awareness that bad things happen to other people, to the slight concern that school shootings had become a common headline these days, to the ambush of terror as the last sliver of light was shaved off by the closing of that closet door. The image that haunted the mental theater of every human being in that room was that of an armed gunman patrolling the hallways in search of devastation. As we fought our own minds to stay practical and cognizant of our actual scenario, we began a losing battle and Aurora, Columbine, UT, Binghamton, Omaha, and Sikh Temple stampeded a victory lap around our psyches. Our mental states were utter chaos, yet the room was silent and still, intensifying the petrified atmosphere we had made for ourselves. I stood there, shaking, mentally tracing different routes out of the building, should the need have arrived.

It was then that a dread so deep that I have never before experienced entered into my body. I thought, this is what everyone at Columbine felt.  And honestly it probably didn’t even begin to match their horror, because we had hope, we had the grace of the unknown on our side. It was possible that the campus was not locked down because of a shooter (it can happen you know), and although we still pondered on the worst, those malicious fears could not be confirmed without knowledge. Regardless, the shame and disgrace and despair that I held for those children and my reaction toward them was tangible as I suffocated. A dreadful shock ravaged me as I made the notion that the kids in that school wanted so desperately to live and be anywhere but where they were, and they experienced this mad sensation of grief and crazed need to escape from their current scenario, yet no one else truly understood. I wondered if anyone cared enough to come and get me sooner than the officers who deliberated for hours around the perimeter of Columbine before deciding to enact a search and rescue through the gunfire. I stood in that tiny area of that closet, berating myself for not giving a whole heck of a lot of thought in regard to how traumatizing that experience must have truly been for them, because now it was happening to me.

It had only taken up the span of 10 minutes, the time we spent locked in our self-made horror. In only 2 minute’s time, after the threat had dissipated, everyone had gone back to their former, tier one mode, as their personal status returned to “Me, myself, and I are not in danger, but others might be”. My peers regarded the experience as a mere occurrence in another day of their life, as if to cover up the fact that they were terrified. It was almost as if the person who tried to express how they had felt was ostracized, because it was silly to have been so scared; everyone was embarrassed. No one would admit that they had ever felt insecure or that they had ever questioned their safety. All of them had.

A man discharging his gun at a homeowner several miles from where we were was the reason for our lock down, not an intruder roaming through the school and wielding a machine gun. But every student on campus assumed they would need to dodge a bullet or two, they assumed what everyone assumes today, that there is a shooter, and because of that, they cared. They cared a lot, because it involved them.

I walked out of that closet thankful for not having to endure any actual pain or tragedy, and also wishing that the fear of a public shooter was not so readily manifested in our society’s mind. I wished that no one ever had to worry about such a deplorable act taking place, and I wished that, when indeed one did take place, that people did not have to undermine the severity of it. In no way am I endorsing the sensationalism of the media, however the extreme nonchalance and minimal regard that so many give to this issue and many other dangers our society faces is not conducive to healing, prevention, or progress. People need to learn how to genuinely care, regardless of if it is for their own sake or not, yet not allow their fear and the intensity of their feelings to reach a point where progress becomes regression.

Our world needs to set its standard on the second tier of the response to threat; we need genuine concern. Not apathetic indifference spotted with occasional remorse, nor emotionally overcharged activists, but a point of compromise and efficiency. This caring is necessary, as Elie Wiesel upheld in his speech, “The Perils of Indifference”. We need to care, because one day, when you’re the one in the closet, you’ll be glad when somebody else cares that you are there.

I know I was, and the thought that those who didn’t care could be the ones making the decisions on whether to send aid to Katrina victims, continue providing unemployment, or whether to take me out of that closet was way scarier than any physics exam.