Kara Swanson's Brain Injury Blog

April 22, 2014

Dare to Imagine

Filed under: Uncategorized — karaswanson @ 7:50 am

I see video replay of the families and loved ones of the missing Malaysian triple-seven, screaming in anguish and frustration after more than a month with no debris field and no tangible return on the tireless efforts to find that plane. 

I have watched coverage of the sunken South Korean Ferry and the seemingly endless parade of the dead, carried on stretchers from the grave of hundreds.  Information there is posted on a white board about each victim for the families to identify:  braces, nail polish, birth marks, clothing…

I think of the families in Washington State who suffered that massive mudslide a month ago.  My thoughts turn to the loved ones of the lost souls on Mt. Everest this week….

And I don’t know how there is so much hatred in this world of ours.  So many lines drawn in the sand.  So many borders.  So many fences….

If you dare to imagine the plight of these people, all around the globe, it is another invitation to bring us closer. To bond over inarguable circumstance. It doesn’t matter what color they are.  What language they speak.  What political party they belong to.

When I imagine a dead child who was swept away by a mudslide….a young Sherpa climber buried by a sheet of ice five stories high…a South Korean high school student slowly descending into the dark and cold sea, any person in the frantic last moments of a plane crash…

It makes me weep to imagine.

We needed the Boston Marathon yesterday.  A year after that horrific bombing which sent shockwaves felt across an entire planet, we needed that marathon to run and run they did. 

A million people showed up to defy darkness.  To cheer and clap and prod on, not only the runners, but the very spirit of light.  Of recovery.  Of good.

There’s not a one of the million-plus gathered in Boston who didn’t take a few moments to fear and wonder and look around and take a deep breath and consider and pray.

But they came anyway.  They beat back their fears and they demanded the light and the light came.

It gives me chills to imagine. 

Last week a student was found possessing a firearm and six bullets at the high school where I work and where I went to school.  My school.  My friends.  My co-workers.  My community. 

That incident stole a little of the innocence I have always enjoyed there.  That young man took a bit of the carefree fun I enjoy when I announce sporting events.  He brought fear to school.  He brought reality to my school which, before this, had enjoyed the naïve denial of the untouched. The fortunate others.
What I’ve realized is that we don’t have to move unchanged from one horrific headline to the next and the new. To move on unchanged is to turn away the opportunity to bridge distance and make smaller a world that is so gloomy with division.
When we dare to imagine what anyone feels, even that poor soul on the side of the road with the flat tire in 19 degree weather, we plant the seeds of a compassion that emerges from the rocky soil of contempt. Of hatred and prejudice and bullying and meanness. In a world so desperate for the blooming of new hope and warmth, we need only look at each day’s headlines to see how urgent this need.
Let’s take a few moments from our crazy, busy days to feel that dark cold water in our minds. To imagine how enormous a sheet of ice five stories high is. Let’s reserve just a bit of our time to appreciate a mudslide that rushes into a home and fills it five feet high. Let’s sit with the visual of that teenager last week, sitting in a classroom with kids like your own. A gun and bullets in his backpack…
If that isn’t a bell toll begging for change then I am at a loss for what could be. Time and again we have watched with distanced amazement at what goes on in the chaotic world around us. Let’s bring it home in our minds, before it comes home and shows up on our doorstep. Let’s imagine what has been so that we might change what will be.
Our lives right now, our time here…Our period…This is ours. This is our place, together. Whatever and whomever, the good and the bad, we will, together, move into the history books. One at a time, our contributions, whatever they were, will go silent.
Let’s give ’em light. Let’s rattle the cages of the good. Let’s imagine the cold darkness so that we are inspired and compelled to the warm and the right.
Let’s outnumber the ones who make this world such a scary place that a teenager is sitting in third hour with a gun and bullets in his backpack.
No one else can do it. We are all we have.



  1. Another excellent, though provoking post Kara. Well done.

    Comment by Mark — April 22, 2014 @ 8:36 am | Reply

  2. Kara, I loved this very thoughtful post. It made me stop for a few moments to reflect on the anguish that the families and friends of Flight 370, of the sunken South Korean ferry, of the avalanche, of the mudslide, of the school shootings, of the wars and the countless other tragedies that happen around our world. We all need to be thankful for what we have. We live life on a thread.

    Donna O’Donnell Figurski

    Comment by donnaodonnellfigurski — April 23, 2014 @ 11:58 pm | Reply

    • Thank you for your kind words, Donna. Great to have you here. :)) Kara

      Comment by karaswanson — April 24, 2014 @ 6:37 am | Reply

  3. Much truth in what you say. There is much more that unites us than what divides us and it is in these tragic situations that we really need to reflect on this concept of unity. Thanks and keep up the good work!

    Comment by Glotzer Sweat LLP — April 24, 2014 @ 8:24 pm | Reply

    • Well said! Imagine what would get done in this world if we were all focused on the concept of unity…. 🙂

      Comment by karaswanson — April 25, 2014 @ 6:45 am | Reply

  4. Hi Kara, thank you for reminding us of empathy and compassion/ of the real “golden rule” (do unto others as you would have others do unto you). Thank you for challenging us to believe in a world truly free of the fences, borders and lines of fear, bigotry and hate. Thank you for encouraging us to allow a “spirit of light, of recovery, of good” to shine it’s presence despite catastrophe and fear / to truly be “an invitation to bring us closer”. I am thinking now of a quote from Maya Angelou which is something to the effect of; “we are more alike, my friend, than we are unalike”. I REALLY like YOUR words: “to move unchanged is to turn away the opportunity to bridge distance and make smaller a world that is so gloomy with division”. We must not maintain our neutrality when faced with disaster and unjust. We must accept the opportunity to do good even if it means trudging the rubble of destruction. Practicing compassion can feel vulnerable and risky sometimes but oftentimes it can be as simple an genuine as offering a smile.

    Comment by Hilary — May 2, 2014 @ 8:55 am | Reply

  5. I like your words, too. :)))) Kara

    Comment by karaswanson — May 3, 2014 @ 6:40 am | Reply

  6. I feel the same desire to be light in this world, and grief for the suffering of others. It is overwhelming when something tragic happens very near. As a psychotherapist, I sometimes see those scary teenagers who are in so much pain. Just today, after being in a public place that could have been fun for those in attendance (bowling), and seeing the lack of joy and peace on faces of some of the most privileged people on the Earth, I said to myself and Spirit, “Something has to change.”

    I read your blog to get some ideas for dealing with mild TBI (8 years out). I found kindred spirits. I believe there are many of us!

    Comment by Mary — May 11, 2014 @ 4:49 pm | Reply

    • Yes, Mary, many of us. Keep on fighting the good fight. I think we need more good people like you to help reach these kids when they are most naive and vulnerable. Their perceived options nowadays are so disturbing that we need to find them and get them some help. Very troubling. Thanks for stopping by the blog. We’re cheering you on as you do your thing to help these kids. I hope it returns to you in many many wonderful ways. 🙂 Kara

      Comment by karaswanson — May 29, 2014 @ 8:03 am | Reply

  7. I’ve been absent for a while, but now I remember why I used to love this website. Thanks, I’ll try and check back more frequently. How frequently you update your site? eceeabfkaeca

    Comment by Johng412 — July 17, 2014 @ 3:54 am | Reply

  8. Helli Miss Swanson,

    I have searched allover for a copy of your book. I am intreagued with what me reading this will bring me. I have a real interest in brain injury having acquired a brain injury myself. I feel that reading your words may offer me great incite. I feel that in my life I am making very slow progress some years later thanwhen this happened in 2002.

    I would be very appreciative of contacting you with reference to the above.

    Thank you

    Comment by Nathan Common — June 3, 2015 @ 4:55 am | Reply

    • Hi, Nathan. Thank you for your interest in my book. I’m sorry you are still struggling with your injury. I think we all do, in some ways…..The book is not currently in print. Most are finding it at amazon.com in new and used versions. As soon as it went out of print, some knuckleheads were trying to sell it for 600 dollars. I hope you don’t pay that. I’ve seen some used copies for just a couple bucks. Good luck. I hope it helps you. :))) Kara

      Comment by karaswanson — June 3, 2015 @ 7:50 am | Reply

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