Updated: Mar 10, 2020
I wasn’t there.
Community has made me who I am today. I am who I am because of those who have supported me, listened to me, laughed and cried with me, taught me, believed in me, spent time with me, and taken care of me. In a society that values independence and achievements, I know nothing I have done, I’ve done alone. My achievements are only possible because I was and am supported by others. That’s why, when I say I wasn’t there during a week of turmoil for my community, at a time when some of the people who support me might have needed support themselves, I feel a mix of emotion I’m not fully sure how to put into words.
I’m incredibly grateful for all the people in my life. I’ve experienced loss, as I’m sure most of us have, and I try to not take for granted those in my life who mean something to me. But I’m human, I’m not perfect, and I can’t always show up in the way I would like. On the week of the Borderline Shooting and the wildfires, I was out of Los Angeles. I had planned a trip months prior. I naively assumed my home would be the same when I returned. What I did not plan for, however, was people that I care about would be back in Los Angeles, evacuating, not sure if their homes would be intact when they come back. And I wasn’t there.
We will all have times when we can’t be somewhere with people we care about when they are suffering. It’s a vulnerable, powerless feeling. Being away from home when tragedy strikes also had a sense of helplessness attached to it for me. After I learned everyone was safe that I personally knew, I still wanted to see my people, my places, I wanted to drive the streets I knew and go back to where I’ve been to so many times I’ve lost count. I had the feeling that if I could just be there, everything would be ok. I felt threatened; without my community to go back to, my sense of safety was in jeopardy. I will say, I was truly blessed and that isn’t lost on me; my house was not in danger and everyone I knew was able to go back to their homes shortly after I returned home. Others were not so lucky.
I can share what I learned through this experience, perhaps for those of us who are wondering what to do for our community now. First, to my community: I love you, keep going. We heal together. The most powerful question I know is: what do you need? We often think we know what someone needs, but everyone experiences things differently, so it’s always best to ask. And along with that comes, listen. Just listen. Thich Nhat Hahn said it best when he stated, “compassion is a verb.” Be that compassion for someone else.
In community, when something happens to one of us, it happens to all of us. As a collective right now, there is a lot of suffering. Community also has the power to heal itself. I am a part of that community just as you, the reader, are. It takes all of us. How we take care of each other and ourselves now determines our wellbeing in the future. If you need help, ask. If you can give help, give. We get through this, as a community, together.
Sending love to all,