Today is a day I always feel melancholy and introspective. As a Virginia Tech alumni, the terrible, tragic events of this day five years ago still shake my heart. Every year I think of how terrified I was while I waited to hear from friends and family on campus. I remember having my first (and I hope only) panic attack at grad school when people talked badly about my town and called me cold-hearted for coming to class, though I had no choice if I wanted to pass. I remember watching TV with my fellow Hokies in LA while we all talked about how much we wanted to go home.
Blacksburg is my home. Born and raised. It's in my blood and I love that place. And I hate that it is tarnished by tragedy but I love that my Hokie family stood strong under the scrutiny and responded with love, courage and poetry (thank you Nikki Giovanni). So I will also spend this day thinking of love, courage and poetry; celebrating life in the face of death and that I believe we are very eternal, mysterious, amazing beings.
Why, then, do we have to be human
and keep running from the fate
we long for?
Oh, not because of such a thing as happiness—
that fleeting gift before loss begins.
Not from curiosity, or to exercise the heart...
But because simply to be here is so much
and because what is here seems to need us,
this vanishing world that concerns us strangely—
us, the most vanishing of all. Once
for each, only once. Once and no more.
And we too: just once. Never again. But
to have lived even once,
to have been of Earth—that cannot be taken from us.
-Ranier Maria Rilke
(Another translation as Rilke wrote in German and I think each translation is very profound)
Why, then have to be human?
Oh, not because happiness exists,
Nor out of curiosity...
But because being here means so much;
Because everything here,
Vanishing so quickly, seems to need us,
And strangely keeps calling to us…
To have been
Here once, completely, even if only once,
To have been at one with the earth -
This is beyond undoing.