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A personal perspective on the Batman shooting

This is a departure from your normal programming. Please bear with us as we explore this signal.

As most will be aware, on Friday morning, a gunman broke into a showing of the new Batman movie and killed 12 people. Some of you might be aware that one of those people was Jessica Redfield, a journalist who had narrowly escaped a similar end only a month earlier.

Numbers are just a statistic. It's hard to get emotional about yet another shooting in America. There's even something comical about the idea that the victims probably only realised this was not part of the movie when they were shot dead. It's easy to find the comical side... that is, until you attach stories to these numbers, and particularly if one of these stories has meaning to you.

As some will know, I had a "near death experience" of my own, a few years back, and it was an inflection point in my life. Much like, from her blog, it seems to have changed Jessica's life, fundamentally, profoundly:

I was shown how fragile life was on Saturday. I saw the terror on bystanders’ faces. I saw the victims of a senseless crime. I saw lives change. I was reminded that we don’t know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath. For one man, it was in the middle of a busy food court on a Saturday evening.

I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing. So often I have found myself taking it for granted. Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings. Every second of every day is a gift. After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given.

For most of yesterday afternoon, without knowing it consciously, this was gnawing at some part of my mind. As I walked across London to a networking event, listening to my iPhone, the thoughts unfolded more fully, and I realised more explicitly that this was something important to me.

Then, my iPhone randomly chose to play that track... The track that had looped through my head endlessly for 45 life-altering minutes in a Circle Line carriage near Edgware Road. Wow. I almost started crying while walking down the street. Scrap that, I did start crying. Not for me, but for Jessica, who had only just awakened and been cut down soon after.

Sometimes, life offers us what I like to call a Moment. It's an opportunity to be truly alive, to gain perspective, to see something beyond everyday reality (and yet present in every one of those lowercase moments). And most of the time we walk right past these Moments. After all, there are things that need to get done! Who has time to pause and think about Life for a while in the middle of a busy day?

When we fear for our lives, we suddenly have time to re-examine and re-prioritise everything. Jessica had the time. Only one month, mind you. Life didn't give her more than that.

No one but Jessica will ever know if she made the most of that extra month that she had on Earth, but I like to think that she did. It makes no difference now, since this person is no more, and will never be again. In a mere thousand years (probably much less) neither she nor I will be remembered by anyone.

Yet I think there can be great Beauty in things that have no use, that make no sense, gestures that are utterly pointless and yet deeply meaningful to those who understand them, even if those people are no more, so I wrote this article to thank Jessica for reminding me that I'm Alive.

Update: It appears Jessica's last name was Ghawi, not Redfield.


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