On Healing: the Boston Marathon, Cracks, and Love

What does it mean to heal? What does it mean for us as a community to recover from something as devastating as the explosions that ended the Boston marathon just hours ago? What does it mean for us as individuals to overcome hardship?

It seems we, as humans, value people who have triumphed through adversity. People who have gone through turmoil, whether communal or personal, understand themselves in a deeper way; they are able to forge forth into the future. However, it seems we only value those who leave their troubles in the past.

What happens to those of us who are unable to forget our pain, whose bodies are irrevocably shaped by the adversities we’ve faced?

Sometimes, we are unable to forget what we’ve gone through. Sometimes our bodies are scarred, altered, or reshaped by our experiences. Sometimes our minds refuse to let go of those moments or stories that inform our understanding of the world, of ourselves. Sometimes even the smallest detail, something that seems innocuous—a butterfly, a handshake, a slight grimace—will take us back to a place that we don’t want to revisit. That’s ok. We don’t need to excuse who we are and what we’ve been through.

I imagine the explosions have scarred many. I imagine, even years from now, simple things may bring people back to this moment. Years from now, when we feel like we should be fully healed, we will be reminded of the pain that we, as a community, as individuals, have endured. That’s ok. Healing can be a lifelong process.

Poet Alfred Corn, in a letter to Mark Doty, offers the following metaphor: “I’ve been trying to write, myself, a poem about those ancient Japanese ceramic cups, rustic in appearance, the property at some point of a holy monk, one of the few possessions he allowed himself. In a later century, someone dropped and broke the cup, but it was too precious simply to throw away. So it was repaired, not with glue, which never really holds, but with a seam of gold solder. And I think our poems are often like that gold solder, repairing the break in what can never be restored perfectly. The gold repair adds a kind of beauty to the cup, making visible part of its history.”

I am of the opinion that we never truly forget the troubles of our past. Our community will irrevocably be shaped by the events that transpired today. We, as individuals, will forever be affected by the fear we feel. Time will soothe our pain, but it won’t reverse what has happened. That’s ok. We don’t need to forget and move on to flourish.

At this crucial moment, there is no room for hatred. Cries of “terrorism” and “blame the Muslims” have risen across the digital world. We must remember that we are all affected by violence. Instead of trying to place blame, we should recognize our pain, come together to support our communities, and work to prevent future violence.

We can’t erase our cracks. We can, however, repair them with love.

If you feel the need to talk, the counselors at Room 13 are available 7pm – 7am every night. They are located in Thayer basement. Alternatively, you may speak to them by calling 617-495-4969.

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