Just a little while ago I boarded a plane in San Diego heading for L.A. to connect with a flight to Zihuatanejo, Mexico to kick back at Casa Contenta, mi querida’s home away from home. Basking in the sun with my hon was all that was on my mind at the time. I, however, had no idea that, at the same time, children were losing their lives at their place of learning in New England.
I wasn’t aware of the carnage until we clicked on the iPad once we had settled in at our destination. The moment before that I was just going “Wow!” in reaction to the loveliness of the home I was in and kind of chuckling to myself over images in my mind of two men who had attracted my attention at LAX.
One wore a sweater with the words “Small Arms Instructor” written on the back underneath two big ass rifles crossing each other that were to “small arms” as a butterfly is to a pit bull. I got a kind of chilly feeling from that little scene.
The other guy stomped through the room like Quick Draw McGraw doing an improv of Clint Eastwood at the Comedy Store. He was wearing the biggest stealthiest blackest looking cowboy hat I had ever seen — and hailing from Tucson, Arizona I’ve laid eyes on some large sombreros. But you could stage A Christmas Carol on this dude’s hat. But it’s hard to portray toughness, pulling a little pink carry-on suitcase on rollers.
Oh, but such light thoughts, in the suddenness of a click on a computer screen, were snatched from my mind like a tsunami gathering up floating devices on a beach and I, from the deepest depths of my soul, with the sickening news unfolding in front of me, wondered “When will such insanity end?”
For the sake of self protection, knowing that I was far from the onslaught of news I would face back home, I turned my attention to my surroundings, to what was all about me, the artwork and the colors and the gardens and the pool and the stairs that climb from the street to level after level. Casa Contenta. Whoa. What a place. All snuggled into a hill in Zihuatanejo, one of many hills, in a paradise of lush jungles and sparkling shores and bays and a fish filled sea.
But, in spite of all the wonderfulness, the madness never strayed far from my mind. Reminders would surface at any time, like when we were greeted with “Hola, senor” and “Hola senora” in an urgent “You got a minute?” tone of voice as we strolled along a walkway of boutiques and cafes. Three young men stopped us with questions about the states, wondering where Connecticut was and if it was okay to walk around with guns where we lived and one man in particular, shaking his head in bewilderment, with the saddest of eyes, asked “Porque?” in a manner that could not hide his emotional pain over the children who had died. “Quien sabe?” is all we could reply. Who can understand lunacy?
But we found a balance between talking and laughing and bouncing in and out of the pool, and dining in places with astounding views, and swimming among birds that were diving to devour the sardines that brushed against our bodies in the waters at the beach in Potosi as fisherman reeled in huge fish that also were attracted by the bounty – we found a balance between that and thoughts of run amok insanity which would cause our minds to drift to the children again, especially when we’d see the town’s beautiful young ones (in colors of every shade of brown there is) at play, like a little girl running and playing peekaboo in front of a super market door, cute as a bug; a boy juggling tennis balls for pesos in between heavy traffic at a signal light, somehow I saw that as a delight; boys and girls tugging at their mama’s dress or their papa’s trousers, at the sight of me, pointing to how tall I am, as I walked among them…
Oh, we mourned the adults, too, the principal, the psychologist, the teachers, all who were taken. But we talked about the children the most in those moments in which we were going slow, taking in Casa Contenta’s quiet glow, its warmth, contemplating “Where do we go from here?” as it relates to our nation’s fascination with arms.
That question lingers with me and I know that whatever we, as a society, get around to doing about this problem we surely have to realize that our children are watching and listening and they will, down the road, do much of what they see and hear us do. And, fortunately, for the sake of a hopeful future for our nation, they’re somewhat new to the conversation about guns, but the subject is really out there now, so what are they going to hear from us that might guide them and enable them to lessen the dangers weapons present in our nation when the problem becomes theirs?
Will we in our actions get them to believe uninspiring drivel like “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” as Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice-President of the NRA, likes to say?
Or will we guide them towards the teachings of someone like Ghandi who once
declared: “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.”
But more importantly, since the horrible crime committed in Newtown was perpetrated by an extremely mentally ill man as are so many such slaughters, will our children see us showing love for and providing means for human beings with mental disorders to get their needs tended to? Or will they observe us turning our collective backs to notions of making acts of love and kindness and human understanding common place in our cities and towns?
Ahh, to make them lovers, the children. I remember a moment when I stood in the upstairs patio, now a very spiritual place for me, off the main bedroom at Casa Contenta, feeling hopeful, confident that our children can turn this planet around. From such a vantage point I could not only see the Pacific Ocean but long range human possibilities as well.
Casa Contenta does that to a person. This old dude can’t wait to return.