Bleeding heart is a good label for me right now; my heart certainly feels like it’s been bleeding for a while. Actually, it feels like it’s hemorrhaging so much I’m leaking red out my eyes and mouth and leaving a trail wherever I linger. I don’t know how to stop it. I try ignoring it but then I slip in the unexpected puddles. I try staunching it with prayers and spells and good deeds but they soak through too quickly. There’s no change I could effect in the world big enough to fill this hole so I just keep bleeding and bleeding and bleeding. Is there a source to this fount? Will I ever run out? Or will I just keep overflowing with sorrow?
Sometimes history’s repetitions are comforting, the knowledge that others have come before to fight this fight, to suffer this suffering, to stand with arms linked until the tanks or the tear gas or the water cannons mow them down. Sometimes it is enough to know this moment’s horrors aren’t unique, that we will never be the first to want these things and can never be the last to die before they are won. Sometimes being able to stand back and watch the great wheel turn, turn, turn through all of humanity’s existence offers the necessary perspective, the needed distance to see the wisdom of the larger picture.
And sometimes the wheel’s inevitable turning crushes us beneath its rim, presses us into the mud to join the bodies of those who came before. Sometimes knowing the wheel spins in place, ever turning and yet going nowhere, is a cruelty we cannot bear. Sometimes fighting the same old fights, suffering the same old sufferings, facing the same old tanks and bigots and bullets is just too much, and we wonder if there’s any point when those who come after us will face these things as well. Maybe we haven’t figured out how to learn from history yet – or maybe as long as the wheel spins in place, we can’t help but repeat the past.
I remember taking refuge in a hotel bathroom in Switzerland because hearing on TV about a man who dressed up as a cop to murder children in Norway made me want to sob.
I remember feeling sick to my stomach in a Red Cross office as I learned about a man who had shot up an elementary school in Connecticut, killing adults and children alike.
And now I’ll remember laying in bed on a quiet Sunday morning, reading about a man who killed fifty people in a queer nightclub in Florida and wishing it was all a dream. I’ll remember rolling over to place my head on my girlfriend’s chest, wondering if there will come a time when I no longer hear her beautiful heartbeat; wondering if someone will shatter my family the way so many others have been shattered in the blink of an eye.