I was standing by the open window with a mug of freshly brewed Pu-erh tea in my hands, enjoying the colder than expected breeze blowing in over the sweet sound of chirping birds, underneath a crisp sky with hints of orange beginning to paint the evening with firey colors of the setting sun, when I realized that I needed to run.
It wasn't because I hadn't run in six months, or because the weather was nice. It wasn't because I was finally living in a neighborhood where there were nice running paths or because I had been feeling my fitness level deteriorate ever so slowly.
No, I needed to run because I was so damn lucky to have legs that allowed me to run, to actually still have my feet attached to my body.
A few hours earlier, while I was walking home from the Alewife subway station, I heard a number of sirens in the distance. There was nothing particularly unusal about that, but intuition told me that something big had just happened.
As I walked home, I opened Twitter on my phone and searched for "Cambridge". Someone else had tweeted that something big must have happened because they heard lots of sirens. I then searched Twitter for "Boston" and immediately started seeing photos of what at taken place just minutes earlier.
Two explosions, presumably bombs, exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing several people and injuring dozens, horrifically dismembering people. I was on the subway when it happened, just a few miles away.
When I got home, I began following what was unfolding in Boston. I found a video clip and photos of the blasts online, showing in graphic detail what had just happened (warning: some of these photos are extremely graphic).
It was horrible, but what caught my attention in the videos was the incredible way in which the majority of people rushed, not away from the blasts as you might expect, but towards them. Within seconds of realizing what had happened, people converged on the areas that were affected.
People ripped the shirts off their backs to use them as makeshift tourniquets on those who had just had their legs blown off. Several marathoners who had been running for more than four hours and 26.2-miles continued running straight to the hospital so they could donate blood.
On Twitter, I found a link to something that comedian Patton Oswalt wrote on his Facebook page shortly after the explosions. His words articulate my thoughts quite well:
I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, "Well, I've had it with humanity."
But I was wrong. I don't know what's going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.
But here's what I DO know. If it's one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we're lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they're pointed towards darkness.
But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We'd have eaten ourselves alive long ago.
So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, "The good outnumber you, and we always will."
So as I stood there at home by the open window, with a mug of freshly brewed Pu-erh tea in my hands, enjoying the colder than expected breeze blowing in over the sweet sound of chirping birds, underneath a crisp sky with hints of orange beginning to paint the evening with firey colors of the setting sun, I couldn't help but feel an absolute sense of gratitude.
There were humans, only a few miles from where I was, whose lives had been ripped apart today, some quite literally. Others had awoken this morning just as I had, but with the intention of running or watching others run a marathon, who now were lying in a hospital bed somewhere with the knowledge that they will never again wiggle their toes or feel the earth beneath their bare feet.
I needed to run. I needed to run for them.