Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Reaction on the Boston Marathon

There are supposed to be fireworks at the end of races like The Boston Marathon--not deadly explosions.

As my coworker read the breaking news to a group of us in the office, I put my head down and continued to write the treatment that I was working on. It wasn't that I didn't want to be informed--I wasn't ready to be sad.

Sadness, after tragedy, is often addictive. After Colorado; Newtown; Sandy;  and other large events that have resulted in death, I often find myself refreshing the Twitter stream relentlessly, clicking from news organization to news organization, and texting friends about their thoughts. All I want to do is turn away--but I can't. So when I finally tuned into what was going on in Boston, an hour after it occurred, my obsession with the story quickly manifested. I wanted answers. I wanted to know who, what, when, where, why, HOW. I wanted to know everything.

And rather than feel sadness, I suddenly found myself feeling angry. This wasn't an attack on our country, no it couldn't be. There are over 90 other countries represented in a race like The Boston Marathon. This was senseless--terrifying--and reckless.

As someone who has run a lot of races, my anger too stemmed from the fact that this could have been any race in any city.

On Sunday morning, I ran my first race in nearly 9 months on the JFK runway--a 5k. I even got a few friends to come run it with me--one who hadn't ran a race before. As we approached the 5k, I told her how excited I was that it was her first--that the community feeling of running a 5k, or any race, is what keeps me coming back.  People are supportive--People feel a sense of community.

And what I love most about running in races is that it's not a judgmental sport. People of all ages run--people of all run levels run--and people from all over the world run--without being judged. The spectators stand by--cheering, relentless--holding signs that make you laugh as you pass by, giving you high fives, motivating you until you cross the finish line. And unless it's the Olympics or unless you're a top runner battling it out for the top time, then no one is cheering against you either. It may not be a team sport but it brings on a team of people who want to see success. It brings people together--if even for a short bit of time. That's the fun of any sporting event--the community that is drawn in. To see that disrupted, to see our spectators hurt--our runners--our fellow Americans--and even those who travel from near and far to take part in a race that has such magnitude as the Boston Marathon gives me chills and is beyond disheartening.

As more and more information is released, my heart begins to sink more. As I see the photos of the carnage, I am reminded of photos I've seen of battle scenes.  People are without legs--three lives have been lost--and hundreds are battling what could be life threatening injuries in multiple hospitals across the city of Boston.

An 8 year old boy lost his life by simply watching a race--a race that perhaps he one day wanted to participate in, or that his family may have been participating in yesterday.

As I try to suppress my anger, I think of what I can do--what we can do in order to support Boston at a time like this.

The answer is to continue loving. To continue loving with all our hearts--showing our neighbor who may not always seem to love us back--so much love that they can't avoid showing love too.

There is too much good in this world to let the bad rot it out.

To all those who took the start line yesterday--and who stood by, relentlessly cheering them on to the finish, my heart--my thoughts--and my prayers are with you.

In the next few weeks, I will be looking toward a marathon to run in either October or November. I recently told a friend that I would never think of doing a marathon--that it wasn't in my cards. But it is in my cards, because I have the means to do it. There are people who lost the ability to run another marathon--or even their first after the explosives went off yesterday--so I want to run in memory of / out of respect for them them. If anyone has any suggestions or who would like to join me, please reach out. Even if it means walking all 26 miles. This race is the answer to the anger--to the hate--to the sadness. This race is for them.

Libs on the Reel

Friday, December 21, 2012

Be the Change

I'm going to open up this post the way a lot of bloggers have : I didn't know if I wanted to write about the tragedy that took place in Connecticut, just one week ago today. But I felt compelled to, because it's important to confront the things that we are running from most.

The truth is-I didn't want to think about this tragedy. I DON'T want to think about this tragedy. I DON'T want to envision the faces of those children as the unthinkable happened. In fact, for the first day, I avoided Twitter and even Facebook. Most of the news was wrong in the early hours that it didn't seem to matter: However, the worst part of it had still happened and was very real and it wasn't something I was ready to face...It's something I still have trouble facing each and every day as the AM Magazine gets shoved in my face with photos of funerals for 6 year olds. I can't even read the word Sandy Hook without shivers going down my spine. I remember being bombarded with news about Columbine as a child--and then again Virginia Tech as a college student, but the in-your faceness of all of this seems much more unavoidable.

I'm normally all about the news--in fact, when Hurricane Sandy rolled through, my reaction to the in your face blasts was quite the opposite--it all felt necessary--I wanted to break information to people as often and as consistently as I could. At friends homes, we sat around predicting how bad it would be--what to do if there was a power loss--and how long the trains would be out of service for. The difference is that Sandy was predicted. We were all awaiting it--so when it hit--we were ready. We couldn't prepare for what happened last Friday. Unlike Hurricane Sandy, my friends and I haven't made mention in conversation about the tragedy--and one time when i tried to bring it up, we all changed the subject right away.

I desperately wish I could turn back the clocks and sweep up all those children in my own arms and fly them to safety. I desperately wish the front page of the news this past week was fiscal cliff related, and not human tragedy related. I desperately wish this had never happened.

But there is harm in looking in the past, and wishing things had played out differently--in longing. It's time to heal and to protect ourselves from other situations that might rise similar to this.

As someone disconnected from the Sandy Hook community- the questions , as for most, are how can I help NOW and for the future . There are several answers: I can get educated about gun laws and reform in this country--and then I can educate others. I can also get educated about mental health and  how people can get help for it--and again, educate others. And then I can do the same thing every single one of us can do : I can look inside myself, and ask myself to be a good person, to keep my values and my morals, and to continue treating people with kindness and love--a message that takes only smiles and hugs to send.

 To see change, we need to be the change. We can't change what happened last Friday, but we do have the ability to change what could happen in the future.  So let's start.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Resilient Ones

Darkness has flooded my room. I nervously try to avoid pressing power buttons on any of the number of electronics that surround me. Has the power gone out? Did we buy enough if it did? When will it come back on? I go to plug in my computer and to my dismay, the charge light comes on. Hurricane Sandy has completely spared my apartment building—and for the most part my neighborhood: Bushwick Brooklyn.

And I feel nothing but gratefulness for that—but sadness for all that I am seeing across the East River.

My friends on the Island are without power. Those in the lower east side, and most below 34th street- my fellow New Yorkers are too. The subways have flooded, the tunnels are closed, and homes have been destroyed. Cars are floating down the streets—the Brooklyn Bridge Park Carousel is now a submarin-o-sel, and a hospital was evacuated late in the night.

I am in Bushwick Brooklyn, but from the lack of devastation outside, I could be anywhere—watching the news and following the Twitter updates just the way everyone else is. Though the island is just 5 miles from me, I feel a world apart—even if my heart feels closer than ever.

Last night, I updated my Twitter feed, obsessively. And each time I read the word “Safety,” I felt chills run through every part of me. Around 8pm, as the storm surge peaked, and pictures followed.  Tears flooded my face.  “Manhattan is in trouble,” I whispered. “What will happen?” “How will we recover?” “What can I do to help—while I’ve still got electricity?” 

The answer at that moment was nothing. 

And as I learned this morning, it could be days til people have power again—til the subways run, til people are back in their homes. But I realize, now, that even though I physically can’t help—the same attitude that continuously helps me push forward through the crowded streets of ambitious actors, actresses, lawyers, engineers, business people, accountants, stage hands, producers, directors, law enforcers, health and medical officials, and more—that NEW YORK ATTITUDE—the NEW YORK LOVE—can be helpful..

The truth is New Yorkers are resilient. They’ve seen the lights go out on Broadway. They’ve experienced bombs rumble under ground. They’ve watched their iconic buildings collapsed. And each time they’ve risen to the occasion to come back—to reassemble—to regain their composure—to help a neighbor—or a friend—or the elderly—or a child. New York is filled with people who fight battles every day to survive metaphorical storms.  And today, with this very real aftermath of a devastating storm—New York is still filled with those people—those same resilient people. And I know we’ll all get through this, together. New York City is our home--and it's not going anywhere--and neither are we. 

Warm Wishes to my fellow New Yorkers—and those who felt Sandy’s wrath all up the east coast.

Libs on the Reel

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

We are all Remembering

Written on 9/11/2012: Posted on 9/12/2012

I live in a city that has been built off of decadent dreams and determination; a city that has seen dim days and darkness; and a city that has dug deeply. I live in the greatest city in the world. I wasn’t here when the lights went down on Broadway, or when a bomb rustled underground—or when the towers fell—But I am here now—and I can tell you—There’s NO place quite like New York City.
It’s a quiet morning in the Big Apple—a somber one. I walk out of the subway station at Union Square. I walk south. En route to an early morning coffee date, I spot the Freedom Tower proudly standing over downtown New York. I close my eyes. I smile. I inhale. I hold my breath. I exhale. I open my eyes. It’s still there. And so is New York City’s heartbeat.

Eleven years ago, today, the heart of this city went into arrest—and the big apple—the state—and the country mourned the loss of thousands of people as two of the tallest buildings in the United States came crumbling to the ground after two planes crashed directly into them during morning rush hour.

I look to my left, and I see three young girls, books in tow, heading to class. These young girls, who can be no older than sophomores in college, were in elementary school when the 9/11 attacks took place. They could have had parents in the buildings—they could have lived across the country—they could have been banned from watching the tele in school (I was). But they are here now.

I look at my phone. 7:50am. I was heading into school. I was getting ready for a Code of Conduct Meeting. I’d been to New York City less than a handful of times. But I am here now.

I check my Facebook—friends who lost friends—friends who lost family members post. A former co-worker reposts his video of the tragedy—and people across the world are Instagramming memorial photos. Followers and those I follow are Tweeting their tributes. I note emails from friends who have moved away from this city—friends that spent many years here before moving away. Friends that experienced the terror of the time—that watched the buildings come down. Their souls are all here even if they are physically far away.

I watch as people walk their dogs past me. They are older. I see a man in his fifties—a woman in her forties—another man—and a woman staring at 1 World Trade from her seat outside a coffee shop. These people could have been here – these people could have worked in one of the buildings– they could have seen the completion in the 1970’s—they could have bragged about living in the city with the tallest towers in the world. These people are breathing. They are living. They are remembering. We are all remembering.

It’s now night and I watch as two children dance under the Washington Square Park arch. They weren’t alive when the towers came down, when the future idea of war for our soldiers suddenly became the present; when people cried and mourned. These children may not have been thoughts, even,  but they are here now—in a community that strives to live on despite the past.

No matter where we were—what age we were---or are now—what connection we had—being here—in this city today—connects us all. This beautiful, brilliant city that 8 million call home…this beautiful, brilliant city that breathes despite the dust—

This city that’s heart beats despite that dreary morning.

To those who lost their families—their friends—their colleagues—their loved ones—in any of the 9/11 attacks or post 9/11 attacks--my heart is with you. Forever and Always. We Remember.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Stay awhile--watch the sun go down...

Copyright: Libby Segal All Rights Reserved 2012

The sky reflects pink and the city's stunning skyline echos brightly below.

The wooden planks rattle as bikes roll across. The wind blows my hair into my face. 

I look up at the arches of the bridge and imagine that if there is a heaven, these must be what the gates look like. 

Copyright: Libby Segal All Rights Reserved 2012

As the sunset on summer approaches, I take a breath and begin to reminisce on the times that have resonated these last few months. What a beautiful--delightful summer it has been. 

Copyright: Libby Segal All Rights Reserved 2012

I've had a lot of favorite moments this summer--from stunt jumping, to taking on a new job, to my acting classes, to buying my new bicycle--but none stands out more than one particular night that reminded me to stop rushing--actually--one particular night that reminded me to just stop at all. 
On July 5th, even time began to stand still. Walking through Brooklyn Bridge Park, I felt at home. I always feel at home in New York City--but this time felt different. Much of this had to do with the epic view of the most beautiful bridge in the city, but a lot of it also had to do with the company I was in--someone who knows a lot about enjoying and living in the present moment.

As we continued along our walk, we stumbled upon a free screening of E.T. We stood wondering if we should stay--or we should go. Many times--in this world--people to leave, to say "I'll do that one day--but not today." However, on this night we opted to stop--we opted to stay.

That night, following the film, my friend sent me a note about the "stopping" experience--the lesson learned:

"Because we know that we have grown accustomed to moving too fast--when we want to leave something because we think we don't have time--just wait a little longer...Even if you need to lay down and take a couple deep breaths." - Rachael C. Smith

The rattle of wooden planks brings me back to the current moment--here, and now, where I am sitting on a steel beam that separates the pedestrian area from the traffic below.

I watch the clouds turn back to white from their pink, and the sky glows a mix of purple and blue.

Copyright: Libby Segal All Rights Reserved 2012
Stay awhile-watch the sun go down-even a big city has the warmth of your favorite small town. 

I opt to stay and take a few deep breaths. I am present. I am home. 

Copyright: Libby Segal All Rights Reserved 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012

In Transit

The wheels churn. I feel my body begin to vibrate. I hear a cry for money from the same unshaven man--who tries to sell newspapers, each night to support his family.

I hum along and nod my head to someone's iPod that is on just a little bit too loud. One of my favorites is playing. I smile.

I smell a mix of cologne, perfumes, and morning cups of Joe.

I lick my lips and pop a piece of gum in my mouth.

And I watch.

I watch the women with strollers. I watch the hipsters who swear they aren’t hipsters. I watch as people laugh. I watch as people read. I watch as people watch—people.

My favorite place in New York City, I imagine, differs from many other people’s favorite places. I love the New York City subway: the energy of the subway stations on a day where the train schedules run just right (which as rare as it is—is always a treat); the upbeat drummer on the L train platform at 14th and 6th Avenue; the break-dancers on the upper platform of the Union Square Station; the guitarists trying to make it; the smiling mariachi band; and of course the ride—one that’s always unique and it’s own.

I love the people—the performers—the beggars—the readers—the conductors—the families—the diversity.

I love the way the wheels rattle and seem to synchronize with the beat of my heart—and that bassy hum that accompanies.

I love the opportunities for shared moments—glances—eye contact—giggles—the chances for true, pure human interaction with complete strangers.

I love watching people—and writing stories—creating alternate worlds where I know the families and lives of each of these straphangers.

And I love the alone time.

I love sitting with myself; I love disappearing into my music or a book or my writing; I love the morning meditation—the evening energy escaping my limbs as I lean my head back; I love feeling so private yet in such a public space. I love this shot at being a fly on the wall—at taking it all in—at observing—at breathing.

I often miss my stops. It’s okay, I am the earliest person you will ever meet, on most occasions—and I know the subway like a doctor knows the veins that run through a body. This is part of my home.

The doors open—the doors shut. I don’t actually notice. I am enthralled in my thoughts—my ideas—the people that I am seeing. I feel myself breathe. I love this. I am in transit.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I believe in you. I believe in I. I believe in us.

"I got off the train and the only person I wanted to see was you."

I thought about sending this to a good friend one day, but somehow I am sure that person already knew. Because it's that one person that we all have but may not have found just yet.

A soulmate.

I believe in love. I believe in you. I believe in I. I believe in you and I. I believe in soul mates.

I believe that a soulmate comes in all shapes, in all sizes, in all genders, in all ages--that a soulmate is not necessarily the person you feel so deeply connected in and routed to in a sexual way--though it could be--but most definitely in a way in which you feel a deeper connection spiritually. A connection that helps one to see the true size--the true spirit that resides within.

I believe that TV and magazines sell us false images of a soulmate as the person we marry--or fall deeply in love with. And while it may be true--I'll never be convinced it is, because often this attraction we have--becomes a de-attraction after days, weeks, months, years of dating--or even marriage--and then we are off soul searching again.

I know. I am 24--what the F do I know about soul searching and soul mates and life. I'd like to say a lot. I am living this life, so I hope I know something.

I believe that we all have magic powers--a sixth sense--that is ignited when that one person--that soulmate--finds their way to us--or we find our way to them.

I believe that what we can tap into with human interaction--at all--soulmate or not--is of such magnitude that we have yet to see the results--and that if every person found their true living soulmate--that the power of this world and of our existence would only intensify at speeds greater than we could even imagine.

I owe Marina Abramovic a lot for my deeper thinking here--I guess. While not my soulmate, she has captured a bit of my soul. She's an extraordinary woman and artist--who created an exhibit that called for interaction at the deepest level possible. (The Artist is Present)

No--not sex.
No--not speaking
Yes--sitting idle, face to face--eye to eye without words. 

It is in the moments of silence--the moments of looking into a person's eyes--the moments of taking all attention off yourself and putting it on another person--that I believe we can truly find that soulmate--that one person that just by existing--no matter the the proximity or distance--makes us a better person.

And above all, I believe the force between these two souls that have somehow managed to find one another in this beautiful chaos comprised of billions of people--can forever change the world.

I believe in you. I believe in I. I believe in us.

And that's a lot to believe in.