Part 1: Turning Towards Tragedy, Life and Ourselves

Part 1: Turning Towards Tragedy, Life and Ourselves


I learned a lot two Saturdays ago about empathy and care.

My dance partner and I were teaching Latin dance to a private wedding party Saturday, May 14th, in the evening. The racist shooting and murder of innocent black and brown skinned people on the East Side of Buffalo, N.Y. occurred earlier that afternoon.

I’d heard about a live shooter, while out shopping, around 2:55pm that day, but didn’t look into it when I got home. To be honest, I don’t watch much news these days and didn’t want to expose myself to more trauma and drama in the world, so I went home to rest, eat and get ready for this class that evening.

Then, around 5:15pm that day, I received a text from the young woman who hired me to teach her wedding party. “Are you and your dance partner ok?” she wrote. I wondered, “Oh no, did she think we were coming to teach at 5pm instead of 7pm, like we agreed?”

I texted back, “Yes, we’re on for 7pm tonight, right?”

She didn’t respond right away, so I called her. When we spoke, she said, “Oh yes, 7pm. I just wanted to make sure you and your family were ok because of the shooting that happened. I’m checking in with everyone who’s coming tonight to make sure they’re all ok.”

I was immediately struck by a few things: amazement and shock or surprise at her level of care and empathy in reaching out so quickly after the shooting had happened (she doesn’t even know me personally). Shame that I didn’t think of contacting my loved ones and fellow community members and checking in with them, including people that I know and love who live on the East Side, because I didn’t know what exactly had happened so I didn’t take it seriously at first. And, I realized, I’d been schooled.

I learned something in that interaction: how important it is to check in with people you love and care about when something of this magnitude happens (I mean, it’s just important to check in anyways!). Regardless of whether it happens in your community or someone else’s, it’s generous and kind and empathetic to check in with each other.

Her level of empathy felt so generous and kind, thoughtful, to me. And, it was a next level of care that I am not used to experiencing in my exchanges with other humans.

And, I think it’s even more important to NAME what happened with loved ones and people we’re talking to. Turn towards what happened instead of away. The ability to turn away is a part of my privilege as a white passing person. How will I continue to turn towards: towards myself, towards others and towards what’s really happening in life?

I thank that young woman for teaching me a valuable lesson and helping me get out of my own shell that day, trying to protect myself from what had happened. I started checking in with my dance partner and others that day and in the days to come.

Read the second blog in this four-part series about how to turn towards life and challenges in a present and self-caring way. Click here to read the second post in this series.

I also realized how good it will feel to hear from my friends and family who know I live in Buffalo, NY. I’d love to hear from you! Check in please 🙂

Thank you and Aloha Nui Loa,

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