“Everyone should have a museum dedicated to the worst day of their life…”
by P. Braithwaite
I came across Steve Kandell’s gut-wrenching article on BuzzFeed called The Worst Day of My Life is Now New York City’s Hottest Tourist Attraction. Yeah. He went there. It is a deeply personal account of his experience at the new 9-11 museum from the perspective of someone PERSONALLY affected by the tragedy (he lost his sister Shari). The entire post is worth checking out, but the following paragraph was like a punch in the stomach…
I think now of every war memorial I ever yawned through on a class trip, how someone else’s past horror was my vacant diversion and maybe I learned something but I didn’t feel anything. Everyone should have a museum dedicated to the worst day of their life and be forced to attend it with a bunch of tourists from Denmark. Annotated divorce papers blown up and mounted, interactive exhibits detailing how your mom’s last round of chemo didn’t take, souvenir T-shirts emblazoned with your best friend’s last words before the car crash. And you should have to see for yourself how little your pain matters to a family of five who need to get some food before the kids melt down. Or maybe worse, watch it be co-opted by people who want, for whatever reason, to feel that connection so acutely. <Read the rest of the article here>
In our effort to be connected, in our desire to share pain, let us have reverence for the struggle of others. Let our desire to hold space be routed in love rather than curiosity. Let us not make spectacles of other people’s pain. And, if we find ourselves sharing in collective grief, let us take time to feel rather than intellectualize. Let our grief bring us closer to the wisdom without words…the wisdom beyond the gift shop. Let us understand that our moment of public empathy, our seconds of national solidarity, are routed in very real moments that irrevocably change other people’s lives. We need to have reverence for the experiences of one another…
Most of all, whatever hardship you may be going through, may you breathe into the comfort that obscurity provides. May you be gentle with your own pain…and process it without the scrutiny of others.
And so it is.