September 28th, 2010
By now, almost everyone will have heard about the gunman who, this morning, ran through campus at the University of Texas wearing a three-piece suit and a ski mask, wielding (and firing) what appeared to be an AK-47 before making his way to the sixth floor stacks of the PCL (Perry-Castañeda Library) and taking himself out of this world forever.
I am so grateful that my husband, who works at UT and, had the timing been right, would surely have crossed paths with the man as Jeremiah walked from his parking place to the building on campus where he works, saw the commotion and decided not to enter campus. (Jeremiah arrived shortly before the “lock down” on campus occurred.) I am so grateful no one aside from the gunman himself was injured or killed. I listened to one eyewitness explain how he saw the man swinging the gun and firing as he ran. Truly, thank God no one was hit.
I can’t help but think, though, that had the gunman really wanted to kill others, he would have succeeded. It seems to my untrained-in-psychology brain that he just wanted to have a very public suicide run. And, that makes me so sad for the man. If his way out was so public and violent, wouldn’t you think there must have been signs of his instability before now? How sad that no one could have or did intervene before this point. I feel anger toward his recklessness, confusion at his state, but, more than anything, pity for him. Maybe I am a sucker. Perhaps it was merely chance or cowardice that kept him from killing anyone else on his way out. Either way, I am glad that no one else was hurt.
A few people who know me and my recent state of heightened anxiety have asked me how I felt about everything that happened this morning and if it made my anxiety worse. How kind of them. I have answered them that, no, it has not raised my anxiety, because it was not personal to me. Anyway, I wouldn’t have allowed myself to be aware of any heightened anxiety over this incident. My own harshness of judgment upon myself would declare it very self-centered indeed to feel and express personal anxiety about what was another man’s personal tragedy. Those who experienced the site of his terrifying sprint or who felt as if they or their loved ones may truly have been in very real danger – they may feel reasonable anxiety. But, here I am. Telling you all about it. Obviously needing to express it.
Yesterday, as I was loading my “three” boys (Jacob, Jackson, and my home school partner’s son) into the car to go to the playground, I noticed an unusually large wolf spider (at least an inch just in its body length) in plain site on my garage floor. I really despise these types of spiders. I know they are just doing their spider thang by being so ugly and threatening and mean-looking. I know they are non-aggressive, because sites like this one tell me that “although non-aggressive, they bite freely if provoked and should be considered dangerous to humans. The bite may be very painful.” It took some courage for me to approach the thing and step on it. I couldn’t bring myself to stomp, but I heard the crunch and knew it was dead or would be quickly. I left it where it lay, and by the time we got back from the playground, it had managed to raise its long, hairy legs up into a what might have been the leg positions of a live spider. Now it just “stands” there in my garage, looking alive but immobile. I don’t want to get close enough to remove it. I’ll have Jeremiah do so this evening when he gets home.
I still don’t feel like I have any extra anxiety over today’s events at UT. But I can’t stop thinking about them. Just like I can’t stop thinking about that dead spider in my garage.