Thich Nhat Hanh writes about our human tendency to notice that which pains us and to not notice the absence of those same troubles. We complain bitterly about the toothache, but do not notice or give thanks for the “no-toothache,” for the days when the tooth does not hurt and so does not capture our attention.
Tonight, at this moment, my loved ones are safe and well. Tonight, I am also safe at my computer, closing out my thoughts for the day, my body and my life far removed from Connecticut. I feel dismay and sadness over this senseless killing, over the loss of these young lives and the lives of the adults who dedicated themselves to the education of children and the betterment of the human spirit. But my feelings are abstract, full with compassion, yet safely distant from this event. I am not a parent burying my child. I am not a husband whose wife will never return home from work, or a child whose mother will never again walk through my front door. My body has not been slammed into an entirely new existence containing only pain and horror. My memory does not rewind and replay the terror of those moments when life was stolen from so many innocents, young and old.
Tonight I notice the no-heartbreak and give thanks.