Unfortunately, as I've gotten older, as our planet has continued to revolve around us, it turns out that this world I write about isn't fiction, but fact. And I don't know which is worse: that it happens, or that we who are left behind don't know how to stop it from happening again.
Today, Alex and I sat down and we talked about a plan if we ever found ourselves in a place like the Bataclan. It would not be unheard of. Aurora was a few hours away. My first day of student teaching, there was a school shooting. The mall down the street where I live was the site of a massacre on the day I opted out of shopping because of a head-cold. These mass tragedies are becoming so real, so frequent, that it is not a melodramatic precaution to sit down with our loved ones and say to one another, "I don't want you to shield me. I want you to live." Or "Of course I'll shield you. I can't live without you." And "Well, if it happens, we won't have time to know how we're reacting." So we say, "Please keep living if something happens to me. Please don't give up."
I've seen artists react to this over the last few days. Hans Zimmer linked the piece he composed for Aurora a few years ago. Lin-Manuel Miranda quoted his musical by tweeting "There are moments where the words don't reach." The thing about being an artist is that people look to art to comfort. We as artists look to our own art to find a selfish understanding. But we can also feel helpless. We are here for the reaction. We are here when things have already happened. We are the therapists, the effect, the attempt to embrace. But how can we embrace when we know it'll happen again?
I've lived my entire life with the idea that in the end, good will win. I don't know how it will manage, I don't know how it will survive, but somehow good will win. With every Beirut, every Kenya, every Baghdad, hell, every Doctors Without Borders hospital ... every Paris ... I become less certain that I know for a fact that good will win.
But the fact that we're still trying to make art, that's a good sign that there is something stubborn and something resilient in us as a species. I guess we just have to keep hoping.