Lessons in Loss

This past weekend I stumbled upon an awe-inspiring sight while visiting family in St. Louis. While taking a familiar route through the city’s Forest Park an unfamiliar site appeared – thousands upon thousands of American flags.

Arranged in neat rows, they covered the entirety of a hillside in the park. Each flag represents first responders who lost their lives that day and the thousands of military members who have lost their lives in the ensuing wars.

It’s the sort of sight that has the power to evoke many a strong emotion, especially for those who remember that day. I found myself thinking about the public response both back then and the response to the current crisis we’re still navigating.

In any tragedy, there are always bright spots. The best of humanity seems to shine brightest in the darkest moments.

That being said, all these years later we seem to be making the same fundamental mistakes. We direct our focus on one common enemy, we place blame, we treat a single symptom instead of digging deeper to find and address the root cause.

When our actions (or reactions) inevitably fail we start the whole cycle over again.

The answer to outrage is always more outrage. Then we wonder why the world is so divided.

Before we go too far down that depressing rabbit hole, some slightly more uplifting thoughts.

Over the past year, we’ve all become familiar with and experienced a tremendous amount of loss. Even those fortunate enough not to lose a loved one have dealt with a different kind of loss.

Okay, now for the more uplifting thoughts.

While we cannot get back what we lost, we can learn from it. We cannot undo our past mistakes, but we can grow and try to do better. We cannot fix everything, but we can try to break a cycle that does not work.

It’s a lot. There’s not a single, simple answer, but the answer is simple. It just takes small actions. An emotional tweak here a shift in thinking there. Eventually, we’ll get to a better place.

Be Kind. Be Brave. Stay Awkward.

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