1.40pm:15 March 2019

“Where were you when JFK was shot?”

A pinpoint in history that changed the world – or our perception of the world.

There have been other “JFK Moments” – When Elvis “left the building”;  When Diana died; When Bowie and Prince passed away; 9/11..

Moments in time, that are globally felt, that are markers of when History had a mid-course correction; most often remembered in sadness, and disbelief… Sometimes changing how we view the world we live in..

Last year in Christchurch a lone gunman, sought to “make a point”, opened fire, and killed 51 innocent worshipers, in the very place they should feel safe. An act of utter hatred.

Like all these modern events, I first heard a hint over Social media, and then spent the rest of the day glued to the TV. All the while connecting with whanau and friends – some of whom were affected with children in lock down at school, or themselves in lockdown at work; and feeling the slow dread that you get when you know you are watching something truly awful unfold.

We felt, like it was the day NZ, the country I adore, lost its innocence. And I know a lot of the international grief was tinged with shock that it had happened here, in this special place, famed for its peace and tranquillity; its neutrality… It was a very tough Coming of Age.

And as with most people I spent a lot of time on social media, trying to learn more, connect with people, trying to keep up with events and praying it wouldn’t get any worse. It was my first real interaction with Twitter, finding it slightly faster and a little less toxic – because, yes,  I was sadly reading comments.. And it’s so true – you should “never read the comments”.

It was an event that definately united most of my country in disbelief and grief; but as with all these things, there were people who felt the need to unleash their own vile opinions and mistruths. I typed answer after answer; statistic after statistic and got into battles of wits, with perfect strangers…

And I grieved and cried..

And I felt the grief of those around me…

Felt the palpable grief of the country…

The next night I was at a concert, with my sister in law, born and bred in Christchurch.. And one of the acts was Dave Dobbyn, long considered the Godfather of NZ music, his music, has been the play list to our lives. One of his most famous songs is “Welcome Home” https://youtu.be/hQlVmvXAGLI, written after race riots; it talks of welcoming people here, and had played in my head in those hours and days.. To hear him sing it live, with a backing choir of thousands, under a beautiful sky. Just perfect… Sister in law and I hugged, strangers hugged and there were healing tears..

During the following week, I pulled myself off social media; there was too much emotion; too much hate; too much grief…

I lost my words…

A week later, I found myself, head scarved; standing with hundreds of my townsfolk, outside our mosque; to support our very small local community of Muslims. It was surreal; it was moving; there were tears… and there were armed Police everywhere – something my country is not used to. Our police had normally been unarmed. This too has now changed – a change I still grieve…..

I re-found my words and wrote a blog…

https://chrissiestable.com/2019/03/31/the-march-of-time/

And sometime in this blurred time I decided I needed to change how I interacted in life and online. It is so easy to snap back and respond like with like; anger with anger; rudeness with rudeness. But I realised I was part of the problem I despaired of – my clever words, were just feeding the trolls. Deep down I knew I was never going to make them change their minds, but I needed to score points!  So now, I choose to scroll on by – it wasn’t easy at first; there have been dozens of deleted comments and tweets… Words banged out in anger; back spaced…

And outside of Social Media I made a decision to no longer tolerate any kind of discrimination. I wasn’t going to stand mutely by, I would call people out. Be actively tolerant. Scary stuff, for this people pleaser…. And there have been times I’ve stood my ground, and told friends and family that I find some things unacceptable… There have been blockings and unfriendings, walking away from toxic people…

But little did I know it was the start of a year of self-discovery and self-growth..

Re-finding my words, turned out to be finding new ones, and this blog veered from a food blog, to one observing life. I think I am writing better than ever… I have discovered my muse loves to walk the beach every morning – many a blog evolved and rehearsed on my daily walks. And boy, does she love to travel – my fastest, most complete writing happens when I’m in an airport or on a ferry…

I have stumbled into a lovely corner of Twitter, full of people learning a new way to live every day. A group with much in common, and who are so supportive and non-judgemental of where the others are at. A group whose core values are tolerance, support, gratitude… Whose honesty is humbling to read; and whose sense of humour and wit match with mine – some days fast tweet, by fast tweet. Whose gentle support and quiet encouragement have let me heal from some pretty hairy years. And the joy of finding kindred spirits and new friends from far afield one of my year’s highlights… they have given me the courage to let go of bits of my past I was clinging on to; and to learn new ways of living… I feel lighter than I have in years.. I have found deep calm….

And as I spend the bulk of this year sorting out the old house for sale and look for a new nest to call home; I am also revelling in lightening the physical load of possessions.. I know, because I’m a smart old girl, that the memories will remain long after the possessions are rehomed… Some Taonga will travel with us, but a whole heap of stuff will be recycled – to be of use to others…

A quote passed me the other day which said:

“A year ago, everything was different. And now I lookback, I realise that a year can do a lot to a person”

Another anonymous, uncited quote that speaks volumes.

I am not the woman I was a year ago. I am better. I am living my values of kindness, tolerance and unconditional love. I have found a deep peace in letting go of things I no longer need. And I like to think, that  that 1 act of utter hatred has resulted in many many acts of selflessness, love and growth.

Aroha Mai, Aroha Atu

Love towards us, Love going out from us  

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