An Old, Unmarked Path

My daughter's high school is closed today because of a "Columbine-style" threat with some reference to grenades. I am thrilled that it was a threat of violence instead of an actual act, yet it was fascinating to watch my mind as it tried to stir up strong emotions by creating narratives and dramatic scenes. I saw several vivid cinematic images with the specific details of my daughter's face and the faces of her friends. I heard sounds which I've heard countless times in movies, chaos exploding in familiar hallways and classrooms.

It was effortless for my mind to begin filling in all the details. Haven't I been practicing imagining these very things every time there has been news of a school shooting somewhere else? Don't we automatically flesh the actual tragic scenes out with pieces from our own worlds every time we hear about them?

And yet, in this instance, it was all potential, imagined, speculated, and unreal. The only real thing was the thin waft of potential threat -- which most of us understand to represent a wide range of possible realities. I am grateful that nobody was actually hurt and for the opportunity to peer directly into my mind's reflexive mechanism for triggering alarm.

The poem featured on The Writer's Almanac today overlaps with these observations: 

Borrowed Time
by David Moreau from Sex, Death and Baseball

Sex, Death and Baseball by David Moreau I will not die tonight
I will lie in bed with
my wife beside me,
curled on the right
like an animal burrowing.
I will fit myself against her
and we will keep each other warm.

I will not die tonight.
My son who is seven
will not slide beneath the ice
like the boy on the news.
The divers will not have to look
for him in cold water.
He will call, "Daddy, can I get up now?"
in the morning.

I will not die tonight.
I will balance the checkbook,
wash up the dishes
and sit in front of the TV
drinking one beer.

For the moment I hold a winning ticket.
It's my turn to buy cold cuts
at the grocery store.
I fill my basket carefully.

For like the rain that comes now
to the roof and slides down the gutter
I am headed to the earth.
And like the others, all the lost
and all the lovers, I will follow
an old path not marked on any map.