Reflections on A Tragedy at My Boulder Neighborhood Grocery Store

Prior to yesterday, I carried a felt-sense that Boulder was supposed to be different. A false sense of security. Many of us who are fortunate to live in this community came here for a different kind of life. We came to be closer to nature. We came as seekers on the journey of self-discovery. We came to insulate ourselves from an America we experienced as increasingly pathological. We came to be a part of a conscious community where connection and kindness and love and self-awareness are all woven within the fabric of the culture. Most of us acknowledge our privilege to call Boulder home.

In my South Boulder neighborhood grocery store yesterday tragedy hit close to home when a man open-fired and killed 10 people, including a police officer. The Boulder bubble, as we like to call it, has been broken. I was home working less than ½ mile away when I heard helicopters flying over my house and began receiving texts from friends. My two daughters, home from school this week in advance of a Spring Break trip, had planned as they often do, to walk up to the store alone to grab a snack, some fake nails, and a magazine. Something inside of them told them not to go, so instead they decided to stay home. Whatever they listened to inside of them may have saved their lives. Others were not so fortunate, and this morning I woke up feeling heartbroken.

There will be a time for anger and debate and intentional action. I am not yet ready to try and understand how this could happen in Boulder. I am not ready to make statements about what needs to be done. I am not yet ready to understand what could be happening inside the mind, body, and soul of a person who could do something like this. That time will come. For now I choose to share what I am experiencing and how that makes me feel.

So here are my reflections on what I am feeling. These are not opinions. These are not judgments. They are not up for debate. They just are.

  1. I feel sad. There is a heaviness in my chest and my stomach. While my awareness has attempted to prevent me from crying, I have shed tears several times since this happened.
  2. I feel scared. When my 11-year old daughter asked me “Dad, are we safe in this neighborhood?”, it hit home. What else is there to say? The names of the victims have not yet been released. I hope and pray it doesn’t include any close friends of mine, but that hope does nothing to remove any of the fear. People in my community have lost their lives.
  3. I feel confused. Often I find myself rushing to the thought “What am I going to do about this? What am I going to do to contribute to creating change?” Right now I am sitting in this space of not knowing. I know not what to do. I know not why this happened. I know not what this means. I know not.

I am going to sit and feel these emotions now.

I often go to the Sufi mystic Rumi for insight and perspective.

“Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.”

Here I sit with my heart open, grieving the loss of life and the innocence of my town.

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