When Reality Doesn’t Seem Real

-Jacob Wei

A day or two into into the program, a girl was hit by a car and killed a few blocks away from where we are living.  I don’t remember many of the events of that day. I remember a tidbit of conversation I overheard about how “a girl had been hit by a car, and it was bad”, and I remember briefly hearing and seeing sirens flashing by our house. Beyond that, I didn’t even realize what had transpired until later that day when one of the staff members brought it up at dinner. I had no reply but silence. I didn’t know what to say, think, or feel, it’s almost as if my whole mind and body kind of went numb. For the rest of the day, and the days after, I didn’t, or couldn’t think much about it. It wasn’t until I was standing at a candlelight vigil for the little girl a few days later, listening to loved ones and family honor her, that it truly felt real to me.


Looking back at the situation, it was as real as could be. I was a few minutes walking distance away, I saw first responders rushing towards the scene, heard neighbors converse about it. Yet in my head, I still felt like I was in the comfort of my nice college bubble, sitting in a dorm room, shaking my head as I read about this terrible tragedy on my Facebook news feed. There was such a stark contrast between how real the situation was and how real my mind convinced me it was. Maybe it’s because I’ve always lived in a relatively nice, comfortable, and safe neighborhood, and things like this were strictly enclosed in a box on my Facebook browser. Maybe it’s because I’m not used to confronting death and how precious and sometimes fleeting life is, or maybe it’s because I’m too worried about my own life, and all the minute details and troubles that it’s hard to give compassion and reflection to even a tragedy such as this.

As I write this post, I’m remembering something I read recently about compassion. As infants, something we all establish is the idea of object permanence. That even when an object is out of sight, it still exists. However, I’m still in the rudimentary stages of developing something the book I read described as “compassion permanence”. This is the idea that even though a tragic event is out of sight, my brain still comprehends and registers its existence. Whenever I read or hear about all the injustices and tragedies of the world, I take a minute or two of reflection, and maybe a little prayer. But that’s it. After those few minutes, those tragedies fade out of existence for me, replaced by a youtube video, or a nice picture of some friends. I hope that through my journey of BUP, and beyond, I develop the ability to still think and care about all the broken things happening the world long after the world has forgotten about them.

-Jacob Wei


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