My heart hurts today.
My emotional overexcitability can be devastatingly impossible to deal with as a busy human who must get from point A to point B and point C and D and so on in the next 24 hours. I watch the morning news because it’s the normal thing one does with coffee and little quips spoken to the screen which are meant to assuage the need to actually be helping or acting in some real way. I watch the morning news because… I do. It’s normal and I like normal.
But then it starts. My heart hurts. I realize that I really need to quit watching the news because any mention of pain or stupidity or anguish or inept policy sets my heart to hurting and my mind to reeling; and really, is there anything else on the news??
We are nothing if not creatures of habit and so today was no different: on came the news, poured went the coffee, and hurt went the heart. A shooting at Jewish centers in Kansas was headlining today and my breath (cue sharp intake) and my heart (cue inability to move on) and my head (cue overthinking) all got into line as expected.
I grew up both Jewish and Catholic. My father, a Hungarian Jew who survived the Holocaust, and my mother a California-born Italian Catholic who survived everything thrown at her, were an interesting meld of religions and traditions, both of which I appreciate and find importance in sharing with my children. I look forward to Passover and the Seders every year as much as I look forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas. We are a true blended family and I am thankful for each and every part and parcel.
Still, I suppose if I had to tick one box it would be Jewish. Emotional overexcitability is not something I can put on and take off like I can a religious preference so I have always leaned towards the emotional connection I have with the heritage, the experiences I’ve had with the people, and the obligation I feel to the presence of Judaism. It’s not that I hurt more for these victims; indeed, I hurt no more than I hurt for the children stabbed in the rampage last week by a fellow student. As I’ve said, the news is not a friend of mine; but, it is a reminder of the why and what and how that I offer my gifted children on a daily basis so that they know that although this world can be hard to take in over coffee, there is an excessive amount of possibility for change and beauty should they allow that emotional overexcitability to soak in, take hold, and guide them forward.
The plan for today’s blog was to write about the importance of traditions, religious and secular both, in our gifted child’s world. The safety which comes from repetition and known is, in this blogger’s opinion, a major asset in their ability to deal with all of their overexcitabilities. Instead, one of my own overexcitabilities got in the way of sticking to the writing plan and I find myself in defense of emotionalism.
You see, I find it inspirational and refreshing when emotional overexcitability reminds me that not everything needs to be logical or right-angled or computed or situated or understood. I find it to be quite grounding to be reminded that drinking a cup of coffee is a true gift and that every sip should be savored and appreciated. Far from being a burden, I find emotional intensity and overexcitability to be a catalyst for positive change.
For times like this I have my own tradition. I tell myself: I will continue to watch the news and I will continue to have a heart which hurts for others; I will continue to honor my family’s sacrifices and unimaginable pain by teaching that story to my children; I will continue to believe whatever it is I want to believe and encourage others to do the same- with no judgment, no hindrance, and no ill-will; I will continue to choke up when I write blogs which matter to me; and I will continually say that this is thanks to that emotional overexcitability, which so often is given a negative name, when it should be held up high and remembered for what it helps to continue.
“Indifference, to me, is the epitome of evil.” – Elie Wiesel