After coming home from the concluding services of our most holy day in the Jewish faith, I began to ponder what the next chapter of my life would bring. As you know, I am always trying to figure out how I got to where I am today and where I may go tomorrow. What roads will I walk, what mountains will I climb, what rivers will I dare to cross? And, when I stumble and fall, will I be brave enough to get back up?
These thoughts tumbled abound in my head for the next day or so. And then, as if I was struck in the face by an open hand, my ears burned and my head began to spin with the morning news of the tragedies of Las Vegas. How could thousands of innocent people be in the middle of a concert, suddenly devoid of music but filled with ten long minutes of spraying bullets? What is happening to the world I once knew? I had to sit. I had to think, I had to cry, I had to pray.
I managed to get to my office, numb and still in shock. I poured a cup of coffee, took a seat at my desk and turned on the computer. And, before I could even catch my breath, I heard the somber news of the passing of one of my most beloved artists, Tom Petty. His music wrapped a ribbon around my family since before my kids were born. They grew up singing his songs and being inspired and protected by his message.
My mind began to peddle faster and faster. What would the future bring with all this chaos, death, and sadness that we all seem to be bombarded by today? The lump in my throat sat on my vocal cords, paralyzing me. My heart was broken.
Then, as if to speak to me and steer me in the right direction, as I was driving home I saw one of the biggest, fullest moons of my entire life. It was smiling down on me from the vast space we call the sky. In that moment, I felt complete gratitude and an overwhelming sense of peace.
The moon reminded me of the cycle of life. Renewed each month, only to fade and disappear, just like the lives of so many people we once knew and in some sense, the reality of what the world once was for all of us. I thought of all those individuals whose moon will never renew, whose lives have been cut short, whose destinies have been interrupted.
As I searched the sky for things that make sense, the more confused I became. The stars, the wind, the seas and mountains; I tried to understand the catastrophes of nature or some higher power that just may be speaking its mind or speaking to mankind. In the last several months, we have seen mother nature strip the land of peoples’ home and lives through fierce storms, had the earth shake and tumble, devastating beautiful cities and now, we have seen man, the guardian of our earth, shatter the lives of thousands of people in a senseless act of violence. Is this a sign that a higher power is shouting at us to figure it out? To signal to us that if we continue on our path of destruction, selfishness, violence and carelessness, a new moon may not arise for any of us?
As I said before, Tom Petty’s music was like a ribbon around my family and there has to be a reason why things happen in the order that they do. There has to be a reason why at the end of a month of tragedy, senseless loss and destruction, we can still be inspired by a full moon and the renewal that it symbolizes. So, while we are not safe and while I fear for my children and others who cannot go into the world any longer and feel safe and secure, I have decided that the renewal of the soul cannot be deadened by an automatic weapon, a hurricane, an earthquake, or the death of a beloved artist.
So, here I go. I’m ready for the next chapter in my life. I will continue to pray, be an inspiration to myself and those around me, and try to be a ribbon of trust, hope, and safety around all that I love. I will stand up to this hate and violence and I will always carry the message of Tom Petty, may he rest in peace, “Well, I won’t back down. No, I won’t back down.”