We needed to hear from him first.
Like everyone else, I’ve seen the outpouring of emotion this week. People react differently to death and to a tragedy in general; some handle it with grace and composure while others break down, they lash out, they cling to petty differences and let that govern their emotions. They check their filters before they share their thoughts and emotions online and publish for the world what was once in their head. Before I could say or do anything, I had to hear from him. I had to see where his head was because it would take strength to have something this tragic happen to you and persevere. This tragedy was about those who we lost and how those who survived. It would parse the minefield of death and suffering and, ultimately, how they would push forward because as Myles says, that’s the only way we can go.
I had to see him get up and make a speech that I’m sure would have made both of his parents tremendously proud. It was a speech that gave everyone who knew his family some comfort and that serves as an example that tragedy can either define us or we can grow from it and become something new. So, I had to hear from him first and not to be melodramatic, but I wondered – would this still be my friend that I had come to know through years of friendship? I figured it had to change him because it’s changed me and it’s changed anyone remotely close to the situation. It’s changed all of us.
It’s made us inspect our lives differently.
How we experience things in the social media age can warp our perception of them and our memories of people or events.The way most of us experienced Sunday was through our phones trying to find out what was going on, working them through a maze of self-delusion denying that it was even true. Jumping from text to Facebook, to Whatsapp to chrome. For me, it came down to one question “Where is my friend?” The feeling was manic, frantically messaging back and forth and us for a long time…just hoping.
Going through the last few days.
“When did we last get a message from him?”
“What did that ‘last seen’ on Whatsapp say?”
“Did he leave Friday like we thought?”
On social, media you can see a variety of opinions. People use memes as a life philosophy or as a way to reaffirm beliefs they already had and made them feel better about the decisions they’ve made. When something so tragic happens to someone you know, you realize how ridiculous all the nonsensical posturing is.
You really don’t want to hear anything about politics, or God’s plan or how this is based on destiny or faith or whatever. You just feel for your friend. You get broken up you sit in silence with your closest friends and think “If this is how I feel. What’s he going through”?
So I had to wait on him before I said anything.
We’re in about 1500 Whatsapp groups together where sometimes we discuss serious things (what we want to do in life) but most of the time we use them for levity. Genuinely through the mundanity of the day, we make each other laugh because psychologically we all live and build self-delusions that allow us to get through the day in modern society. We need each other sometimes to act as lighthouses through a life that can be a fog of distractions.
We spent the last week before it enjoying Halloween debating things like:
• What we don’t get about people “Kev, Dis what I don’t get about you…”(Favorite joke of the year)
• Anything Ashley says – Pokémon lyrics, seriously…
• “Him Downstairs” – (Working hard)
• “Chet S…” (presented without comment)
• “Eye Emojis” whenever Slick says anything at all…
• “Speritt” – She really does have a lot of Speritt
• “Spice Route aka #6” – The only person who could row at the same level of Chairo
• Every thought Nal had and his suggestions for the party made you slap your forehead. He’s the one of us that’s a father.
• Byron complaining about being tall, moving to exotic locations and “killing people in the post”
• Jason telling us about life(“Problems”) in Miami, then us asking Nal to block him for the day
• Questioning whether MEZ knows how to use a computer in 2014. (Chairo and I were dubious)
• Me being annoyed every time they said “dappa” (like wtf does that even mean) I laughed few and far between this week.
•$6 (The price for all food, menu prices be damned)
We couldn’t’ laugh at all Sunday or Monday, but typing that just now made me smile because as frivolous and meaningless as some conversations can be, we talk to each other every day. How many people do you speak to every single day…by choice…and actually enjoy doing it? These conversations end up ingratiating themselves in you, become a part of who you are, how you communicate with people and it matters. These people matter to you and they become family.
- His Plan “I feel like God watches us like how I watch a bunch of kids. Hands off, listen, then shout ‘Hey!’ when it sounds like something is going wrong. – Nal
My brother had a life experience, he had a son. It made him grow up and I could see it. Watching someone transform in front of you is a powerful thing. It canceled the noise of the things that we normally care about. And it was because we’re family, our group of friends, it made all of us change in some sense. You realize these things can happen to you, you appreciate your parents, think about how all these people conspired, moved, spoke to you, and all of it eventually got you here.
Myles and Ruth got Chairo to where he needed to be, to be strong enough to handle this. Those were the people that got him here, it wasn’t about us any of us no matter how much we cared, it was about them.
We had to hear from him first.
We did a podcast Monday night and I couldn’t even participate, it was too raw and my thoughts were everywhere. I sent Chairo a message but it was rambling and emotive and served up platitudes when really the only things that needed to be said to him were “Whatever you need, I’m here be strong.” How he and his family and this country reacted that’s what was important. I’ve heard all these quotes before but they resonated this week in particular:
“Most Men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” – Henry David Thoreau
“An unexamined life is not worth living” – Socrates
“Be obsessed with improvement be the Lion, go from a gazelle to a lion because if you don’t kill it your family won’t eat.”- Eric Thomas
“The greatest Tragedy in Life is not death but a life without purpose.”- Myles Munroe
“We have never been nor will we ever be hopeless.” – Chairo Munroe
Myles and Ruth didn’t have lives of quiet desperation, left unexamined without purpose, without feeding their flock. They lived and so do we. I hope this changes things in this country. In the speed of 24-hour news cycles, of repetitive news sometimes things strike a chord with the people who can actually affect change. This will not be easy for any of us, but change and growth never is. We can speak about it now say what we’ve learned, but the true test of this not all being in vain comes down to how we act moving forward. We can think of these things now because we’ve heard him speak. To his friend’s – we need to be there for him no matter what. Seven Rich Pauls, Stronger together.
Hope. It is our greatest human strength.