Meaning

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Yesterday, I spent much of the day giving interviews or writing about what I saw at the War Memorial in Ottawa on Wednesday morning. Today, I am at the ragged edge of my emotions. I cannot, right now, say any more than I already have. But if you want to read my account, you can read this article I wrote for the Ottawa Citizen or listen to me in interviews on CBC North radio and Northbeat. (starts at 3:44)

This, I guess, is how trauma works. I go back and forth between normal and surreal. I get on with my life, doing all the things I always do. Then a random thought or an image pulls me up short and I see it all again, a flash like a photograph or else a slow motion film. And I can’t stop thinking about it. But that passes and I catch my breath and hug my wife and move on. The worst ā€” and the best ā€” moments are when a kind word, the response of a friend or a stranger to the things I wrote, brings the tears back.

Don’t get me wrong. These are good tears. It makes me happy to think my thoughts and words have provided comfort or encouragement or inspiration. That they have helped give meaning to a meaningless act of insanity. Because that’s what we need. Meaning.

They call him a ‘lone wolf terrorist;’ he is ‘a self-radicalized jihadist’. This is not radicalism ā€” this is madness. There is no ideology behind it, certainly no religion. Those are the props used by a single deranged mind to give him meaning in his madness.

I was going to try to say more today. Say something about the difference between what happened yesterday and true radicalism that criticises society to change it for the better. We’ll need some of that in coming days.

I was going to say something more to get these thoughts that keep spinning in my head at four in the morning out of there and onto the page. But I just can’t. Not today. Maybe later. Or, maybe, tomorrow I’ll write something light and funny. As I discovered two days ago, anything is possible.

And that’s ten minutes, more or less.

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