From time to time, I want to ponder the vagaries of the world in this column under the title of Random Mom-ments. The latter word can be interpreted either as comments made by a mom or moments of observation from one who is all too quickly approaching a milestone that—in the not too distant past, was regarded by Koreans as one complete life cycle.
Let’s just say that I take very seriously the attitude that today’s 50 is the new 30, 55 is the new 35, etc. Given the general expansion of life expectancy coupled with personal indulgence in expensive face creams, studious avoidance of sunlight and a modicum of exercise, I believe I’m set up nicely to drink liberally from the fountain of youth for quite a while.
That said, the world is too much with me and I believe all of us recently. As if one deadly hurricane after another were not enough, my beloved Northern California went up in flames, burning up land in areas we still dream of retiring to in some not so distant future.
As if land were not precious enough in those golden valleys north of San Francisco, now there is even less of it to buy, rent or build upon, and so the dream seems even more out of reach.
The world is even more with us and oh too cruel, with one mass shooting after another. I cannot stand the incessant yammering of newscasters on television but I heard one comment leap out from the noise that gave me pause—that there is a danger of becoming inured to the constant bloodshed and that we must fight the quiet acceptance of gun violence as a reality of the modern age.
How could one turn a nonchalant attitude on the slaughter of innocents in a house of worship, how is it possible to fathom a bike ride on a beautiful fall day turning into a random encounter with death? The concert massacre in Las Vegas was only the kickoff to a series of incomprehensible events that give us a collective shudder and cause us to mourn the heaviness of life that has descended upon our existence.
You have to live your life as you would normally, but you’d have to be crazy not to make some adjustments in actions and ways of thinking.
For example, the day after eight people were killed near the World Trade Center, I reminded all of my family that they should always be aware of their surroundings, especially if they are walking on city streets or riding their bicycles in public.
We have a habit of becoming too engrossed with our cell phones, or listening to music with our ear buds, or being generally distracted with our thoughts. You have to have all of your senses open to any unusual movements or sounds because that heightened awareness may some day mean the difference between life and death.
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that now, every time I enter a movie theater and before I choose a seat, I eye the exits and plot my escape route should anybody decide to come in and shoot up the audience.
Does this sound like I’m crazy? I don’t think so. Plenty of my friends confess that they do the same thing. I’m much more circumspect now about walking around places like New York. I keep a constant eye on the people around me and the cars and taxis bustling about.
I look to see if there are any random packages lying around, and believe you me, if I see something, I will be the first to say something. I’ve never been one for crowds—going to Times Square for New Year’s Eve, huge concerts, gatherings for parades and fireworks—it’s pretty much been no thank you in the past, but now more than ever, I would like to enjoy events from the comfort and safety of my own family room couch.
Perhaps it’s because I’ve been there and done that, so I don’t feel like I am being paranoid or deprived, but I do feel for our children who have to live their lives in ways we never imagined at their age. As a parent, you would like to raise your children to look for the best in all people, but today’s events have shown us that a healthy suspicion is a good thing.
There are some glimmers of hope. President Trump recently went on an Asian tour, and though his rhetoric is still fairly incendiary and inappropriate for true diplomacy, at least he is engaging in dialogue and that’s a start.
There were some election wins that I believe will be good for the American people, and I am happy that we have a new governor in New Jersey, and it’s not because I am so extremely partisan.
I actually had some high hopes for Gov. Chris Christie at the start of his first term, but after “Bridge-gate” and “Shore-gate” and his generally belligerent attitude, I believe he let down the electorate and embarrassed the office he should have held dear.
2017 has been a tough year; no one can quibble with that. As we approach the season of thanks and celebration, I am hoping for better things to come—for all of us.