A Review of “A Prayer for Owen Meany”

a-prayer-for-owen-meanyAfter finishing A Prayer for Owen Meany, I almost believed Christianity again. John Irving’s tale is so well crafted and touching, you’d like to believe the story is true. It’s an insatiable novel, which I highly recommend picking up for both the casual and serious reader. Though it’s long, you’ll come to the final page wishing it did not end.

Told as a reflection of the narrator, Johnny Wheelwright looks back on his life of growing up in a small New Hampshire town following World War II and the impact his best friend Owen Meany imparted on it. There are two mysteries that engulf the story as the two boys come of age…

One: who is Johnny Wheelwright’s real father? In the opening chapter, Owen Meany, who measures below 5 feet and with squeaky voice that can command a room, strikes a foul ball and kills Johnny’s mother. Before she can ever tell him the identity of his real father.

And two: why was Owen Meany put to live on this Earth? Owen whole-heartedly believes that he is an instrument of God, sent to this planet to conduct his bidding. No matter one’s religious beliefs or lack of them, you can still appreciate the thematic concerns of  A Prayer for Owen Meany. Irving grapples with the questions of what defines being a morally decent human being. It’s a tough one to answer, but the author may have figured it out.

Beyond the individual righteousness, Irving also passes judgment on the United States government’s integrity. The Vietnam War plays a central role in the novel as Owen eventually enters the war and Johnny cuts off his thumb to avoid it. Though A Prayer for Owen Meany tends to take on a light-hearted tone, whenever the narrator discusses the Vietnam years a clear bitterness emerges in his voice. Though I was born well after those tumultuous times, the social rifts and personal tragedies Irving creates bring those horrors to life over 40 years later.

The reason I picked up this book comes from a distant memory. In high school, as I was just beginning to uncover the power beholden within a well-written novel, an English teacher suggested I read it. Now nearly 7 or maybe 8 years later, I’m thankful for that advice as the vague memory popped into my head while pursuing a used bookstore a few weeks ago. From the character development, to the enticing plot to the overarching motifs, A Prayer for Owen Meany is one of the best novels I’ve ever read. I’m not sure if this review really does the novel justice.

Though only finishing it a few days ago, I know this book will be one that will stick with me for quite sometime. As I attempt to distill its impact, I’m not sure if enough time has passed to solicit an internal verdict. I feel grateful after reading this book and I thank John Irving for developing such a masterpiece. After finishing A Prayer for Owen Meany, I contemplate if my own reason for being on this planet can be as noble as Owen’s purpose

Reviewing “Main Street” by Sinclair Lewis

Reflecting on my experience of reading Main Street by Sinclair Lewis, I realize the author triumphs as he casts a wide net of issues apparent in 20th century America yet in an eloquent fashion.  Though I caution hesitation to the casual reader as it is filled with heavy prose and main-street-sinclair-lewis-paperback-cover-artstrenuous descriptions. But if you take the dive into Lewis’ exposition of suburban life during the 1910s, Main Street is worth the read. Lewis offers perspectives and raises questions still relevant in the 21st century, which passes the timelessness litmus test required of any great novel.

Main Street story follows the journey of the intellectually inclined Carol Kennicott as she marries an earnest doctor and moves to the isolated Gopher Prairie, Minnesota from Minneapolis despite her internal reservations. This tension of desiring to be happy with her husband and submitting to his conservative worldviews versus her own vision of what her life ought to be like create a whirlwind of mental despair for the protagonist. Here, lies a conflict all people face throughout the centuries – to accept expectations of others or to follow after your own pursuits. It’s a classic literary theme of the universal human struggle.

Digging into the plot reveals the static nature of a supposedly progressive America as Carol attempts to implement cultural reformations. She sets up a theatre group, which fails in attracting significant attention. She aims to improve the town’s Main Street by modeling it after European cities, but the governing body of the city impedes her ambitions with budget restraints.

While reading Main Street,  Lewis highlights the underlying political conflicts evident in the age. Gopher Prairie’s upper echelon of housewives discuss their house workers as if they were slaves, while their husband’s business practices serve to keep the lower social classes locked within their capitalistic stronghold.

Also the elite of Main Street dismiss the leftists in town consisting tumblr_mb0hyjGtaR1r46wzwo1_500largely of immigrants as being unappreciative of America. The division between of the town’s petty upper class and the rest of the citizens illuminates an ever-present tension. One group always seeks to maintain the status quo and the other seems defenseless to the powers at be despite ambitions to resurrect change.

The unresolved conflicts Lewis raises in this book leads me to wonder if change is possible or are we locked within natural confines of human mentality. These persistent issues will always exist; they just take on new shapes over the years. There’s an image of our nation being innovative and welcoming yet within the social structure of Main Street’s Gopher Prairie these notions appear more akin to myth.

As far as the story of the depraved Carol goes, you can’t help but feel pity for this tragic protagonist who never meets her own expectations. She fails to act upon the intellectual and artistic impulses within herself. She married a man and settled for the life he prescribed. Being in my 20s, Main Street elicits a dooming possibility of what life could turn out like if you acquiesce others’ beliefs because the looming question of “what if” will always exist in your mind.

 

“Big Sur” by Jack Kerouac: A Review

If you have only read On The Road, I suggest it’s time to expand your 841937Jack Kerouac horizons and a pick up a copy of Big Sur. Perhaps I am bit biased, as Kerouac is one of the early writer’s who introduced to me reading, but Big Sur is an especially enjoyable, moderately quick read.

It’s a telling account into the psychosis of Jack Dolouz, the literary name-substitution for Kerouac himself, who seeks to find peace of mind by spending several weeks in isolation among the Redwoods in the enchanting Northern California coastline of Big Sur. Yet plans go awry for Jack as he finds himself unable to muster the mental will to remain in isolation and he tramps on back to San Francisco, partying with friends to escape his desperation. Briefly he moves in with a girl and her young child. It’s the type of chaos Kerouac created his mark with early in his career.

Published 5 years following the success of On The Road, officially Kerouac is an establishment in American consciousness as he laid down the tracks for the Beatnik phenomenon, which paved the road for the Hippie Revolution of the 60s. While writing this novel, Jack grapples with being the King of the Beats who at the end of the day knows that he is merely another human being like all of us.

Jack Kerouac photographed in 1959

The stream of consciousness style that Kerouac is known for permeates every page. But the syntax isn’t so challenging that it would drive away the casual reader away. The instant mind-to-paper process compliments the racing and maddening thoughts inside the author’s head. The reader receives a first-hand look inside into the neurosis generated by the cultish following of On the Road. It’s a humbling reminder that success, like anything else, always has both positives and negatives.

Big Sur also brings you back to a moment in time when the media really became mass and when we as a society began to see the effect’s it imposes on the subjects who become swept up in it’s whirlwind. Big Sur leads to the questioning, at least for me, of the American fascination with the celebrity. Kerouac’s soul was sucked dry as the profound attention granted to this literary movement removed the vision from the hands of the creator, leading the author’s psychotic disposition. When reading Big Sur, it’s clear the Beat movement is no longer in the control of Kerouac and his fellow thinkers. It now belongs to the masses.

On a basic level, reading this novel taught me about working through doubt and uncertainty, as Kerouac isn’t so sure about his work anymore and his position within the Beat movement. Learning to embrace the mental conflict in your mind as you walk in the directions of your ambitions is the main lesson this book taught me. Big Sur reminds the reader to not stop trying even when you are desperately afraid. Voices haunted Kerouac’s head, but he persisted in writing this book.

 

Reading to Discern Meaning – Whatever That May Be

It’s been awhile since I posted here.

Nearly two months have passed since my last posting. My mind has been elsewhere…

Well, its’ been ingrained in digital media, the original purpose of this blog, because I have been working full-time as a media planner. But working in the field, day in and day out, is compelling me to write about other topics instead. Sometimes you need a break, I’m only human.

Now, I’d like to shift the focus to one of my favorite pastimes, reading books. Certainly, this new topic strays from the initial purpose of this blog, yet it feels right and the invigoration jetting through my veins is intoxicating.  Thus I must pursue it or look back with regret.

My true love for reading began at the restless age of 15 when I picked up Into the Wild on a lazy summer day. I devoured it one sitting. Sure, I read a lot before that, but I guess I was at the ripe age to begin to understand the importance of a good book and how it impacts your perspective on the world.

Over the last few years of college, reading for pleasure sat on the backburner as I spent time doing schoolwork. The interest lingered of course and I read when I could, but not at the voracity that I did in high school and currently am now. In some ways, I am coming full circle into my past.

So below you will find a list of books I pulled together, all of which I will post about after finishing the book. I will write about the plot lightly, but the main purpose is to write about what I have learned from reading it – the ultimate reason for reading.

The books below cross genres and time periods. It’s a conglomeration of ones that peaked my interest or ones that I hear are important to read in your lifetime, while some of them are ones that I’d like to read again. I pulled it together about 2 months ago, meaning I’ve already worked my way through part of it. So expect some posts to come shortly. My aim is to publish a review once a week.

After working my way through this list, I am not sure what will happen upon completion. Maybe, I’ll draft another one, or maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll never finish this list, as I will keep on adding more books to it. Or perhaps, I will stray from the list and read other ones. I don’t know exactly where this pursuit will take me, as I cannot predict the future as it creeps from behind me while the past recedes in front of my eyes. But here lies a starting point.

This endeavor stems from being on mission to discover meaning in this world as I transition from being college kid to a young adult on the outset of life. I also seek to uncover what creates a good story because that is the coal fueling my ignition to write. There is no concrete end goal here, it’s a merely way to engage my interests and share them with others. I can’t wait to see where I’ll end up after it all.

So here it is…

The List

  • Big Sur – Jack Kerouac
  • The Sun Also Rise – Ernest Hemingway
  • A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
  • Ulysses – James Joyce
  • Island – Aldous Huxley
  • Just Kids – Patti Smith
  • The Bell Jar ­– Sylvia Plath
  • The Emperor’s Children – Claire Messud
  • The Secret History – Donna Tartt
  • Me Talk Pretty One Day – David Sedaris
  • The Best of Ronald Dahl – Ronald Dahl
  • Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance­ – Robert M. Prisig
  • High Fidelity – Nick Hornby
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay –Michael Chabon
  • Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk
  • The Road – Cormac McCarthy
  • Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Lord of the Flies – William Goulding
  • Infinite Jest – David Foster Wallace
  • A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius – David Eggers
  • Main Street – Sinclair Lewis
  • Bright Lights, Big City – Jay McInerney
  • My Misspent Youth: Essays – Meghan Daum
  • Lunar Park – Brett Easton Ellis
  • Ready Player One – Ernest Clive
  • Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture – Douglas Copland
  • A Visit from the Goon Squad – Jennifer Egan
  • Letters to a Young Contrarian – Christopher Hitchens
  • Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail – Cheryl Strayed
  • How to Lose Friends & Alienate People – Toby Young
  • Another Bullish Night in Suck City – Nick Flynn
  • Up in the Old Hotel – Joseph Mitchell
  • Oh the Glory of It All – Sean Wilsey
  • The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
  • One Day – David Nicholls
  • The HitchHiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving

 

Go Out, Say Yes & Follow Your Instincts – An Interview with Gary Vaynerchuk

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to talk with Gary Vaynerchuk, the gregarious and personable, CEO of VarynerMedia and numerous other digital feats as part of his 1aDayQandA. This endeavor is emblematic of the work VarynerMedia produces, it focuses on the our ability to connect with people as individuals enabled by our emerging technology. Instead of digging into the details about social media’s ability to reposition brand’s relevancy, instead we discussed details behind this quote:

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It’s powerful. It’s compelling. It’s uplifting. Too much value existed within that paragraph to be ignored in this 15-minute conversation – exploring it was necessary. We all desire to achieve our goals and when you are young it’s easy to use time as an excuse, so it’s important, at least to me, to figure out what the journey is like between the Earth and the Moon.
So here it is (Lightly edited) Enjoy!

Me: First off, can you speak more about the events in your own life that led you to the thinking exemplified in “A ( by accident) Manifesto”?

Gary Vaynerchuk: Yea you know, I wasn’t a very good student and I’ve had a lot of success in my life. I’ve watched a lot of people have a similar outcome and seen the reverse. Everything that was told to them, brought to them has not paid the dividends professionally in their lives. So it was just very obvious to me that the world is not black and white, and you got to live your life. I’m just very passionate about people understanding that you got to really trust your intuition. Try things, especially when you are younger. Recognize it’s the best time to be risky or try different things. Play out the game the way it actually is, versus the way it has been story-told to us for generations.

M: Why do you think it is though black and white visions of what the world is “supposed to be like that gets perpetuated to young people?

G: I think a lot happened from the Industrial Revolution. In the fact that all operations needed employees and it’s much better for you to take that career path…And so, following the structure of rules and that leads you right into the corporate world. I think that had a lot to do with it to be honest with you.

M:  To dig deeper, you say parents and teachers and guidance counselors tend to emphasis the first 10 years over the last 10 years, they are kind of in the position of knowing that is not the case. So why do you think that people are still telling you to follow the status quo?

G: Well actually, I think a lot of the parents believe that they are right about the way they are guiding children and younger individuals, so I don’t think it is necessarily that they are trying to trick anybody or hide this knowledge. I think they actually believe that is right. On the flipside, they didn’t grow up in world where the Internet existed. The cost of being able to follow your dreams was heavily crushed. It’s much easier to start a business or to do something that you love than it was 20 years ago. There is much, much more opportunity.

M: Can you speak more about  knocking down these barriers and ignoring the voices that tell you to neglect your instinct? I’m sure when you started the WineLibrary, that was a whole new concept, you faced criticism from some individuals.

G: That’s fair, always. I always, I always do. It’s always a part of the process of innovating. You know, I don’t really know any other gear. I know why I do things. I think about them for a while. They’re not just on limb. I feel good about them when I go into them. I’m also not scared to fail, right? Failing is not scary. You know, I don’t think people like change. They don’t understand change.

M: The idea that failing is not scary is often not a topic usually discussed. Would you mind talking more in depth about this notion?

G: Yeah, you’re right. When it comes to business, I think it is your job to fail. If you are not pushing the envelope and trying new things, than you are not really doing your job. I think that if you are going to be innovating, you’re going to fumble. So for every Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr that I’m writing about, there’s going to be…Google +, I thought would be further along… There’s gonna be those things. They come with territory. To me, it’s just a cost of entry, right? If you’re gonna play, if you’re gonna be an entrepreneur, if you’re gonna be an businessman, these things are gonna happen.

M: I’d like to dig more into the idea of when you are young, as you said earlier, it’s easier to take risks and try new things, but it’s also the easiest time to hold onto the idea that it can wait. So what would you say is the most important first step in chasing your passion?

G: It cannot wait. It cannot wait. You can’t be as risky at 35 as you are at 23. It can’t be done.  A far majority of people at that point are either married or have children or have worked for 13 years and have gotten tired. The answer is that it can’t wait.  There is nothing else to say…. Maybe you won’t be married or have children or have as much responsibilities at 23, and maybe you are very lucky that your parents helping, there are these things, but by percentage that is not the case. Thus, it’s important to be more aggressive at this age.

M: Great, that answers the question perfectly. In the quote, you touch up the full-cycle of life, so how do you personally sustain your own passion overtime?

G: I think that I am driven by gratitude to be honest with you man. It’s about the fact that everyday my parents are helping, my family is helping. Everyday that those things happen, that are good things, I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful for the natural talent that I’ve been gifted with and that’s it, you know? So I don’t know really what else to say. I keep life very simple  – Health and happiness of your family members, than everything else is just gravy and that has worked out for me.

M: In the pursuit of chasing after your passion, it’s a grandiose idea to think about, but nobody really talks about the day-to-day struggles of it.

G: For me, my dream is to be an entrepreneur and climb the latter. So everyday I’m going forward, doing new stuff. My dream is pretty easy as a businessman. Entrepreneurship is a really big gift because you are always challenged, you are always doing new things. It’s not as a specific as “I want to climb this mountain,” it can be very vague. I appreciate it for that. I love the journey. I love the bad days. I love the head down. I love the glide. I love that I’m sitting at an airport right now and taking this call. It’s all a part of the process. So for me, if I’m grinding, if I’m working, than I am pursuing it.

M: Okay, would you say, this what I’m gathering from the conversation, that one of the most important things, is as long as you are doing something on a day-to-day basis that you feel benefits you in long run, you are moving in the right direction?

G: I’m very that way. And I mean super long run. Yes.

M: Sometimes it’s hard to say “No”, so can you talk about an experience in which you have had to say “No”? Or a time you should’ve said “No,” but didn’t?

G: Oh my god…Yes…constantly. That’s my make-up, I say, “Yes,” to a lot of things. I would say it’s a flaw of mine. But also it’s my strength. I mean, I’ve said, “Yes” to a lot of things and it has worked out really well. So I would say that I am not the right guy to answer that question because I’m not good at it. I say, “Yes,” to a way more things than I supposed to in a world when my time is my biggest asset right now.

End.

 

 

 

Putting A Year Into Words: Reflecting on the Lessons Gained Through My Exploration Into Digital Media

Last June when I initially launched this project, I sought to uncover the elusiveness of digital marketing in the 21st century and bring a new level of clarity to this industry through my own interpretations. Since then, I have learned a lot not only about this specific topic, but also much about myself as an individual. It is precisely this factor that I believe expands my original objective well beyond the scope of digital media. Originally, my objective was “to assess the entertainment mass media as it transitions from the traditional one-way models of 20th century into the fragmented multi-voice digital realm of today’s environment and to predict the practices that will manifest as the industry evolves in the 21st century.” To achieve this goal, my tactics included publishing blog posts on digital developments as well as conducting interviews with established media professionals in New York City. If the definition of success is did I solve this problem, then you can certainly call this project a failure. But then again one of my most important leanings is that there are always more questions to answer. New doors open every time another closes. There will always be more to discover in life, there is no such thing as “frozen assets” when it comes to learning more about the world.

This project constantly ebbed and flowed, but you have to make adjustments for the unexpected obstacles along the road if you ever want to arrive at your final destination. Certainly, this project was planned on paper weeks before it was set to launch with ideas running around my heads for months on end, yet where it ended up feels starkly different than I intended. Though I am not disappointed whatsoever with the spot I landed on almost year later. Really, this project was a journey and this quote of John Steinbeck exemplifies the process, “A journey is a person in itself no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.” Reflecting on this project, I now realize, it eventually became less about evaluating the digital media and more about my own personal exploration into my own interests, discovering who I am in the face of the world’s chaos and finding that source of internal motivation to push through those moments of struggle we all face at some point on the path to achieving our goals. This particular insight is the part of the project that will remain with me forever.

But if your evaluative framework takes on the criteria of learning more and engaging one’s curiosities, then without a doubt this project was and is extremely successful. It provided me with the background knowledge to prepare me for a career in digital advertising. It established connections for me within the industry. It gave me the chance to explore my own interests, which to me is the most important aspect of one’s entire educational experience. I now stand remarkably more prepared to take any challenges I may face personally or professionally after working on this project.

Another of the many lessons that will stay with me is that there is no point to work a job you hate. And if you have a passion, an inclination, a desire, do not be afraid to chase it with everything within you. Do not let fears be hurdles to your dreams. Do not let the naysayer’ voices cloud your thoughts with self- doubt. Because it is in those moments where you follow your gut to no end, trusting intuition over logic, you find out the most about yourself. Through my desire to better understand the digital realm, I ended learning more about myself rather than my actual objective in some respects, which is okay too. As Henry David Thoreau says it best, “ What you get by achieving your goals is to as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” And this sentiment reflects the two pieces of advice I received over the summer when conducting the interviews, which have occupied psyche since hearing them nearly 9 months ago and have shaped my outlook on the world. They are: “Whatever you do in life, whatever you are passionate about, do it hard. It doesn’t matter what is,” and “Don’t be afraid to work hard.”  They are both simple and straightforward. I have heard them both before. We all have. They are age-old truisms. But I guess that I never really considered these attitudes before because it was at that this particular moment in my life where I was just at the start of trying to achieve my dreams that renders this advice highly relevant.

I can’t say exactly where I’ll end up in 10 years, 5 years even 6 months from now. But I know whatever I’ll be doing, I’ll be working in position that I love and giving it all the passion within me because when you find the intersection of pleasure, business and desire, success can only be but certain. And that’s the most important lesson of all because it reaches beyond industry and touches the universality of the human spirit within us all.

Discussion on The Concept of “Surveillance Society”

In Lyon’s book The Electronic Eye: The Rise of Surveillance Society, the author discusses how the proliferation of technology in our world leads to all our movements and transactions being tracked by computer databases. Some examples, Lyons includes are that the banks knows when, where and how much money you withdraw from the ATM every time, while insurance companies keep record of all your medical conditions.

 

Certainly, the amount of information being collected has dramatically risen since the turn of the 20th century given our innovations in technology, but that is a natural of development. It is important for corporations to track information on their clients and constituents as it shapes business decisions. Most public companies do not use your data in a malicious manner. And if they do, at some point karma will catch up to them.

Also this book was published in 1994, so our understanding of data tracking and the use of it within the business realm have certainly evolved since then. The fear presented in this book can be seen as slightly outdated given the fact this process is much more transparent than it was 17 years ago. You can find infographics online, which outlines the process of how your browsing history leads to targeted advertisements online. I agree it’s important to consider the questions and concerns raised in The Electronic Eye, but they should also be taken with a grain of salt.

The Post-Human Isn’t That New of A Concept

In Stelarc’s From Psycho-Body to Cyber-Systems: Images as Post-Human Entities, the scholars writes some bold claims about the altering human body within the digital realm emerging in the 21st century. Though all his examples and manifesto for the post-human remain within the digital context, many of them are irrelevant or outlandish.

The first point that I read, which I strongly disagreed with goes as follows, “information-gathering has become not only a meaningless ritual, but a deadly destructive paralyzing process.” Essentially, Stelarc believes that the process of taking information is worthless in the digital age as we can get any knowledge we want in a matter of seconds. But this notion is outlandish as Stelarc fails to consider the information we gather outside of writing, the moments we share with other human beings. The moments that cannot be created in a television shows or novels, the ones we create ourselves.

Then the second point that I really disagree with occurs within his ninth state, which is “TECHNOLOGY NOW BECOMES A COMPONENT OF THE BODY.” Personally, I think technology has always been a part of the body and every innovation we build as human beings is to enhance our own capabilities. The wheel helped us travel faster than our feet. The telephone allows us to hold conversation beyond being physically near each other. We retreated to the caves to protect us from the jungle, now we run to the security of our homes to get shelter from the modernity’s natural chaos. It is my belief technology has always been an element of the body; it has just taken more time for digital technology to be physically implanted on our body. Just live previous developments; digital technology also seeks to improve an element of the human body.

Hypertext – Is It Changing Communication as We Know It?

After reading Giles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s Introduction: Rhizome, the nuances of hypertext and its applicability across platforms beyond the digital became more apparent to me. But also I cannot agree with that idea that this form of writing is altering established communication platforms.

In the article, the authors discuss how books do not contain a unique object or subject within itself, but rather consist of multiple, subsidiary parts. They write, “Take William Burroughs’ cut-up method: the folding of one text onto another, which constitutes multiple and even adventitious roots (like a cutting), implies a supplementary dimension to that of the texts under consideration.” Here, the concept of fragmentation is made evident through Burroughs cut and paste chaotic method of writing, which holds the same basic principles underlying the web’s hypertext. Both stray from writing’s linear tenet of narrative development instead they both jump from place to place.

Overall though, I would have to disagree with the notion that hypertext changes communication or writing’s core roots. Take a Wikipedia page for example, within every entry multiple hyperlinks are populated throughout the article. If you click it, each one drives you to a new page that is loosely related to the initial page. Theoretically, you could essentially find your way to any subject by clicking your way through Wikipedia. In high school, we had laptops in the classroom instead of doing work, we’d play “Who-Could-Go-The-Fastest-From-Subject A To Subject B.” The point I am driving at here, though you can jump from multiple subjects online unlike a book, each individual topic follows linear path. Hypertext isn’t changing the way we think about communication, at least for the average American citizens. Maybe for a few academics, but they are on their own there.

You Cannot Rationalize Horror

I sit here alone trying to piece together the chaos from yesterday. Except I sit here in fear, knowing words cannot provide enough substantive justice to change the past or enough of an emotional blanket to protect ourselves from our newfound insecurities.

It’s been nearly 24 hours since the two bombs detonated yesterday at the Boston Marathon’s finish line. No definitive leads on the perpetrator have been found yet. The only evidence we possess is the statistics on the carnage. The United States placidly and anxiously awaits in fear to uncover the truths about yesterday’s horror.

I write because I want to understand my polarizing feelings and the populating uncertainty of this stifling tragedy.

Whenever you face a trauma in life, whether personal or public, it never really settles with you until the next day and then it unexpectedly smacks you across the face again a few months later when you least expect it. That’s the way I felt after my Grandfather passed away when I was 16 and later on in that same year when I was hospitalized for several days after getting by car.

First comes a period a shock. You operate in daze. You are aware of the chaos and the tears, but the root of the situation still hasn’t implanted itself in your mind. Then the next day, you wake up, put your hands over your face and as the sunlight pries open your eyes, and you realize know that wasn’t some dark, scary dream. It actually fucking happened. That’s the state I am in now as I write this piece.  So to asses the final stage of dealing with this particular tragedy is beyond my foresight at the moment and way too large to fully comprehend the dire consequences.

Naturally, reflecting on yesterday, my mind cannot help but wander to the other brutalities of man we witnessed over the past couple months. I step back into the darkness surrounding our nation following Aurora and Newton. My prayers go out to all who are affected. My thoughts center on the question of ‘What else could we do?’ My words do not produce justice. I sit here alone attempting to navigate the murky and bloody waters created by my fellow human beings ravaged by the ghosts living in their heads. Today we all flounder in the pools of tears as we try to rationalize the horror.

As I grow up, I am slowly learning as the months on the calendar fly away is that you cannot rationalize horror. When people commit violent actions, no matter how big or small, ominous or mischievous, the economic principle that “people always act rational” is not in play. Taunting voices paralyze these individuals’ minds, rendering them unable to see a world beyond the cavernous ravens circling their own skies in their minds. Blackness overtakes their vision as their perception of reality transplants itself on top of the actual and cements itself as real in the minds of those plagued by their personal demons.

Perhaps the greater tragedy lies in the days following the carnage, where we sit and wonder if there is anything myself, someone else, the Army or the President could have done. It is when we circle on the questions of what if, we find ourselves succumbing to the pain these ravaged, troubled and psychotic human beings want us to feel.

Being 22 makes you ambitious and idealistic. For me, my personal mission is to leave the world a better place than one I inherited for my forefathers. But now I feel jaded and stifled, when broaching the particular issue of preventing violence in society. Because if we really gave peace a chance, I genuinely believe it could work. But unlike other global issues like providing adequate hunger, housing and clothing to the world’s poor, stopping death caused by inane violence holds no quantifiable measurement. Reflecting on the past couple months, I cannot help but wonder if we are becoming more barbaric or less than our ancestors. I’m not sure if that question holds a concrete answer.

In the wake of yesterday, I sit here alone trying to piece together the chaos. I woke up this morning with a big pit in my stomach knowing the Boston Marathon was not some bizarre dream in my head. I woke up this morning, cars were still zooming down the streets, school doors opened as teachers attempt to explain yesterday to their students, points will still be flying up or down on the NASDAQ, television programming will still air and the sun it also rose today too.

Life still moves the day after a tragedy. And that may be the world part about it all. We must simply  do our best to push through the bleakness and start again anew. Find away to piece to together the chaos and always remember “that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever does.” So go out and be one!