Woke up this morning, went to the doctor, came back.
“Did you hear what happened in Denver?” the wife said.
In case you haven’t heard (and surely, you have), a 24-year-old man entered a movie theatre, tossed tear gas and then opened fire, killing 12 people and wounding 38 more. Much, obviously, can be written about this. In the coming days, there will—predictably—be calls to legislate against the availability of weapons; there will be an NRA response that, had someone in the audience been armed, this wouldn’t have happened; there will be a statement from Barack Obama, a statement from Mitt Romney, moments of silences and funerals and tearful Today Show interviews. It will last for, oh, six days, until the next big, shocking piece of news comes along.
Then, for the most part, we will forget.
Here’s the thing. What we too often miss at times like this is the most important of important lessons—that life is fleeting, and any moment can be your last. Any. Single. Moment. As I write this, I’m sitting in a suburban Starbucks. It is entirely possible (but pretty unlikely) that someone will walk in and start shooting. Or perhaps, while driving home, I’ll get killed in a car accident. Maybe I’ll choke on my pizza. I’m not being lighthearted here. We tend to view our lives through a prism of invincibility; bad things happen to other people; it’s so sad what “she’s” going through. Then, one day, “she” becomes me.
Last night, 12 people in suburban Denver thought they were going to watch “The Dark Knight Rises.” They bought popcorn and soda; hired babysitters; went with a girlfriend or boyfriend. They were excited; happy; eager. A night of relaxation. A night of fun. Mindless entertainment.
They had no idea their lives were about to cease.