The sudden news hit me pretty hard. I didn't know him, nor do I know Sheryl Sandberg, but there it was. How frightening:
That things can go horribly wrong, abruptly, without any explanation at all.
That we don't know if this was, punishment, or fate, or what the problem was.
That we can't predict our own fate, or the fate of the people we love.
So instead of having fun yesterday in the park with my family, I felt upset. I knew I was bad company and so stayed back while everybody else went boating on the lake.
But it left me with some time, and the time spent reflecting left me feeling better. The dark cloud of disorganized feelings gave way to an orderly think-through. Here's the result in case it's helpful to you:
1. Nobody really knows why bad things happen. We did not create ourselves. So trying to decipher the slings and arrows of fate is irrational.
2. We can only control our own actions, not the results. We have so much technology at our fingertips that it's easy to assume we should somehow make everything perfect all the time. But we can't.
3. Emotions do not help things. Action does. Feelings seem intense and so very real, don't they? They seem like they alone can move mountains. But the only thing that helps things is behavior, grounded in rational risk-benefit calculation.
4. Realizing that we're weak makes growth possible. People who act like they're bulletproof also never learn anything. As Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson puts it, "There is a crack in everything - that's how the light gets in." (Plus they tend to seem like gigantic jerks.)
5. We are deeply loved, all the time, no matter what. I felt pretty bad about myself, sitting there in the park, basically feeling terrible, crying and alone. But there were all the manifestations of G-d, holding me in their arms: sunlight kissing my cheeks, wind wrapping itself around my shoulders like a cloak.
My husband and daughter emerged from the rowboat. "Are you all right?" he said to me.
"Yeah," I said and I meant it.
I don't know who Dave Goldberg was and I don't know why he died. We will never really know the answer, I think.
But that is not the important thing.
By virtue of our existing, G-d always loves us. Fully and completely.
Just the way we are.
Photo credit: Aftab Uzzaman via Flickr. All opinions are my own and do not represent those of my agency or the federal government as a whole.