I got to bed later than intended on Friday night, but when the alarm went off at 6 AM on Saturday morning, it didn’t take a single doggy kiss on my face to squash the urge to hit the snooze button and hop right out of bed. It was Norman‘s Attic day. Run by Episcopal Church in the center of Arlington, VT, Norman‘s Attic is an annual combination tag sale/flea market/craft fair comprised of 50 to 75 vendors.
An early sale turned the rest of my day into profit, as the first customer of the day, a visitor from Virginia enjoying his annual holiday, picked out a painting and some cards. We chatted about his neck of the woods and mine. A little later an old friend stopped by to see how my husband was doing after recent car accident (he’s ok). Another out-of-towner bought some notecards and prints, and we talked about her trips from Florida to New England. All through the day, passing friends stopped to catch up on the summer news, and, as the day wore on, I remembered why I love doing the markets in Arlington.
The markets offer the chances to sell artwork, but for vendors and customers alike, even for out-of-towners, it’s a chance to see and be seen and to connect. I was still thinking about the warm glow of connection when my phone popped up the notification of the news from El Paso, TX.
I was on the way to the grocery store and dinner with the Big Guy and the kids and decided to keep the news to myself until this morning. There was, after all, nothing I could do to change anything at that moment. The next notification popped up announcing another slaughter in Dayton, Ohio as we walked to the car to drive home. Again, I kept the news to myself, but, as we drove, I wondered what could be done? What can any of us do?
Just as with the massacre in California a week ago, the victims in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio were going about their daily lives when someone who had disconnected himself from society did what we once thought of as the unthinkable. I don’t know enough about the gun laws currently on the box or the types of guns available to make any productive arguments about gun control, but I do know a little bit about disconnection. I see it every day.
I teach girls who have become disconnected from themselves and from society because of abuse and mental illness. While they are disconnected, they act out in ways that hurt themselves and people around them. It takes time, but when people reach out to these girls and engage them, when they begin to rebuild connections, the acting out begins to disappear.
This morning as I thought about the hideous acts happening in public places, my first instinct was to consider abandoning public spaces until they are safer. Abandoning the places, however, it means abandoning the people in them. It means disconnecting from them, and, I know that more disconnection is not a part of any solution.