Thursday, May 2, 2013

Art Imitating Life

Here we are once again, friends.  The start of another new month as we charge bravely toward the summer.  And what an exciting month April was!  I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve been glued to all the coverage of those tragic bombings in Boston, MA.  I was, like everyone else, horrified by the initial story.  Not since Sept. 11, 2001 have I felt that overwhelming sense of mass panic.  The little town where I live is hundreds of miles away from Boston, but I had heard rumors that the bombings were not isolated and everyone seemed to be on edge, waiting to see which city would be hit next.  Then, later in the week, I was intrigued by the manhunt and capture of the surviving bomb suspect.  It really was like something out of a movie.  Coming soon to theatres:  Taken 3:  Marathon of Terror.

Which brings me to the topic of my rambling today.  Does art imitate life? 

As a writer, I ate up all the gory details of the Tsarnev brothers’ lives and exploits, looking for two things.  One, how could human beings commit such a violent act against other human beings?  I think during something like this, we all have that need to make sense of a senseless act, but I think that as a writer, that need is even more intense.  Like most of us, I can’t imagine staring into the smiling face of an eight- year old boy as I place a bomb at his feet, knowing that it will likely kill the child instantly.  The writer in me wants to know how a person could become so jaded, or crazed or “radicalized” that that would seem ok.  What was going through the mind of those bombers? Did they justify it to themselves?  Did either one ever feel the slightest pang of remorse or even think for a second about turning back?  What about the victims?  Did they have a premonition that might have warned them?  It’s said that we all have guardian angels that remain hidden except in times of extreme distress or at the hour of our deaths.  I find myself wondering if maybe that little boy saw his angel and was unafraid.  I hope so.

My point is—each person involved in such a horrible event is a character, or as Stephen King might say, “a bag of bones.”  Observing the players in this gruesome drama has inspired me in a way I hadn’t thought of before.  I find myself filing them away for future use:  victims, police officers, FBI investigators, firefighters, doctors, concerned citizens that rushed in to help, and yes—even the bombers themselves.  A stockpile of characters that I can pull out at will.  Heroes in the top drawer, villains in the bottom.  And always keeping in mind that no one is the villain of their own story.

Art in all its forms, is not just a monument of the world we live in.  It is how we understand it.  It gives us empathy and bolsters our faith.  I hope that someday, perhaps through writing, I’ll able to understand, but I’m not holding out much hope.  I suppose I’ll just have to settle for faith.

If you’re interested in making a donation to the victims of the Boston Bombings, check out The One Fund here:
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