Something woke me around 5 this morning. I thought it was the cats, and as I shooed them out the room, I heard the thump-thump-thump of helicopters overhead. As a friend and neighbor noted earlier on Facebook, we hear helicopters all the time this close to downtown and the hospital. But then I got a message from another friend: “When did Orlando become the capital of crazy?” And I turned on the TV.
Hours later, the TV is still on, the helicopters still whirring, and I’m still struggling to get my head around this act of terrorism and hate. Fifty dead, fifty three injured. The worst mass shooting in U.S. history. The City Beautiful is in mourning, but it is also standing together. People are lined up to donate blood, while others donate water and food to those in line, as well as first responders and volunteers. We are praying, for those whose lives were lost and those who have lost family members and friends.
Obviously, this isn’t the blog post I had planned to write. My thoughts on Emma Cline’s The Girls can wait a few days. But I did follow through on one plan this Sunday: I went to the matinee performance of Avenue Q at Mad Cow Theatre in downtown Orlando. As one of the actors said at a talkback afterwards, “The show goes on for a reason.” He and other cast members said they wanted — had to — perform, especially this musical, with its LGBT and racial concerns, its light heart and its serious themes. Love and accept yourself and others. Have purpose. Be mindful. When you help others, you help yourself. Be happy. Live in peace.
It was a wonderful show, and the cast and audience thanked each other for being there.
Avenue Q was a Tony Award winner in 2004, and I understand that tonight’s Tonys will be dedicated to Orlando. I will be watching, because I love theater and how it transforms lives and reminds us of truths, of how it brings us both comfort and escape. Mad Cow quoted George Bernard Shaw on its Facebook page: “Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.”
The helicopters have stopped. It’s dark and it’s raining. The TV says there are still people in Pulse, which is less than a mile from here. Unbelievable. You think it can’t happen here and then it does. Sadly, it can happen anywhere, and anywhere is too close to home.
Love and peace to all.