The Tragedy is that I Forgot

KQED Arts & Santa Rosa cartoonist Brian Fies beautiful and heartbreaking video

KQED Arts & Santa Rosa cartoonist Brian Fies beautiful and heartbreaking video

Alive, kicking, awake, fired up, embarrassed and angry.

A few weeks out from the Santa Rosa California wildfires (where I own a home) and obsessively watched the news, social media and couldn’t help myself from posting and re-posting updates as I worried from afar in Los Angeles where I now live. I realized that have busied myself with other things: travel, trips, speaking engagements, work, good food, and enjoyment of the company of friends and have moved on. Scanning Facebook while I fly to Seattle from 30,000 feet I see this:

Santa Rosa Cartoonist’s ‘Fire Story’ Come to Life

I watched this piece created by a local Santa Rosa cartoonist, Brian Fies today and wept. And then I got angry. Angry at myself for moving on, angry at our Federal Government who has blocked aid to our state not to mention the lack of swift help, care, and funds for Puerto Rico, whose people are at this moment without power, clean water and the knowledge of when more help is on the way. After writing a piece a few weeks ago, The Harsh Truth About Tragedy that talks about not truly being able to understand the deep touch of a tragedy, how could I move on and get so quickly distracted?

It happens. People have busy lives; our culture moves quickly, we are bombarded by images, noise, what’s hot, what’s new. The 2000’s do not have the volunteerism culture of the 60’s/70’s, and IMHO we seem only to get civically-minded when we get pissed off about something. And right now there is a lot to be pissed off about so rightly so. Yes, a terrible blanket statement but I think these things are true. So we wake up, but it’s difficult to stay “woke” to give the nod to the BLM movement. What is the cultural, political, human coffee shot in the arm that keeps us consistent? Posting to social media helps but it’s not enough.

The word, pro-active keeps coming to mind, also preventative, premeditation, premonition, prediction. History is there for us to learn from, data is easily available, and yet we are so very reactive as a culture, be it body, mind, spirit, voting, voices, having a say. Much easier to wait to speak up until someone already has. Much easier to just write the check to a fund someone has already set up. Much easier to wait and see what happens. This kind of behavior ‘The follower mentality’ can lead to really nasty things, history tells us so.

I’m thinking all the time about how I can be more pro-active, pre-eminent, and simply present. I’m working on this every day, and you can only truly start with yourself. And share with others how you are feeling and asking the question, Do you feel this way too? Are you with me? Let’s do something about this together.

There is a moving on that needs to happen when bad things happen. Time heals a lot of wounds, but I also want to be certain I’m participating fully in the things going on in the world. I think we all want that but don’t always know how.

If you can’t get up out of bed, phone a friend.

If you are sad, volunteer, nothing like bringing smiles to other people by putting one on someone else’s face.

If you are depressed, go hug puppies, babies, or the elderly.

If you are binge watching a program, between them, make a phone call regarding something you believe in or send someone you love an “I’m thinking about you text.”

I’m also a big believer in therapy and grief counseling (to each their own).

But how do we move mountains, how do we move more quickly?

How do we rebuild a city/neighborhood that still smells like smoke when people just want to leave and move on?

Say how do we get Puerto Rico’s electricity back online quicker? How do we get them water?

Do we see that there is a person, a human being standing there devastated with nothing and little to no help in sight? With everything they have in the world just, gone. Gone. Gone.

How do you talk to someone who lost someone in a shooting?

Empathy. I keep coming back to Empathy. And Action.

Empathy and Action.


Yes, Thoughts and Prayers. AND Empathy and Action.

Empathy is what makes us human; action is what makes us warriors.

Continued, relentless ACTION makes us the fiercest versions of ourselves to walk this planet.

This is where our power lies.

So I’m putting myself on alert. On high alert. On pro-active, relentless alert.

I will share stories of people who are going through these terrible events, so you know them by name.

I will share the places and organizations that are bringing change.

I get to work every day with a handful of companies that do change the world, who are doing amazing things, which support me and the things I believe in, and I’m grateful.

That phrase “lest we forget” is appropriate for so many things that have happened.

The memory of moments and then what we do, the actions we take surrounding them is what changes the world to be better.

I want to be woke, be relentless. A wholehearted human do-gooder.

So I’ll keep sharing how I’m doing that. And I want to know how you are too. Because you are doing the good things and the stuff, I know this. But we sometimes need a little reminder. I did.

Thankful for the sparks in my life — there are many, thank you for helping me not to forget what I should be doing. You have my six and I have yours.


Thank you for giving some claps if you liked this. :)

Written by Head Maven & CEO, Heather Newman, Creative Maven

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