Yesterday was a day that I felt I didn’t need to post. Not pictures of my body, not of my food, not of my dog. Just not at all.
About 7 years ago, I bought tickets to a Tom Petty concert as a birthday present for my then-boyfriend. In the car, we used to crank up Tom Petty songs and croon the lyrics in unison with Petty’s crinkly voice, drawing out the vowels, hitting the notes all out of tune. Seeing Petty live ranks as one of the highlights of my contest-going experiences (minus the stupid, drunk shenanigans my then-boyfriend liked to pull at concerts). Seeing news that Petty has died at the age of 66 is a heartbreaker.
I intermittently relied on “Running Down a Dream” and “I Won’t Back Down” as cardio songs during contest preps. Petty could pick you up, put you down, turn your frown upside down with his quirky sounds. His death carries a different impact than the one Chris Cornell’s shocking suicide had on me a few months back (an impact that I have yet to write about but is sitting on my lengthy “to write about for my blog” list). Petty’s death is a natural one. We know the idols of our times will age, wither, and pass. It’s just hard when reality hits and we witness what we think only happens to older generations…not our own. Just wait, Generation Y and Millenials. Justin Timberlake and Kesha will expire too. It’s human nature.
What is also human nature is the tragedy that occurred in Las Vegas two nights ago. Wait. What? What did I just say? Yeah. You heard me. Humans carry dark, confused, estranged, strange, conflicting, afflicting emotions inside their heavy hearts and weighty minds. I don’t know why the shooter did what he did. We may never truly know. I have a feeling mental illness of some depth and magnitude triggered his triggers. I won’t spout off about gun laws. (Though I do have my opinion; I am a liberal and I know I know…guns don’t kill people, people kill people. But heck…guns sure do make the killing a lot worse and more instantaneous.) But I will spout off about our society needing to do more to help the general population to detect and treat mental illness of any level without a stigma attached, with a safe haven and a private nook and enough health insurance to cover the lifetime of the illness…which is typically a lifetime.
Death. It happens to all. What is born must die. What has a start must have an end. What was once fresh, young, and alive must wilt, wither, and expire. We would rather it always happen swiftly, quietly, while we aren’t looking, when our eyelids are closed, our minds are shut. But didn’t that kind of happen in Vegas? Aren’t we—as a society—sitting with eyelids drooped to our phones, minds shut inside the box of our immediate circle that mimics our own thoughts and opinions, days passing so quickly we don’t even notice where the time has gone? A true tragedy is one in which no one learns a thing. Think about it: by definition, a tragic hero is one who dies by the hand of his own character flaw, who cannot escape the path that he traipses upon because he is too stuck in his own ways to see outside of himself. This is certainly a tragic event, full of senseless loss at the hand of someone who took it upon himself to eliminate life with raging bullets. But the real tragedy will be if we don’t learn from it. I see society today—draped in the blanket of social media—as an eyes-wide-shut community. I am just as guilty of it as the next person. So let us stream a conversation that has us break into our own psyches, discover how to break habits that box us in, and learn tools to break barriers so that we can swiftly evolve into an eyes-wide-open community.
Jodi Leigh Miller is a Women's Physique IFBB Pro with experience in all divisions. She is a record-achieving power-lifter, posing specialist, certified trainer, life coach, and author. She holds an English degree from The University of Texas at Austin and is a certified educator. Jodi was recently accepted into the low-residency MFA in Writing program at Pacific University Oregon and begins January 2018. She is an experienced, knowledgeable, multifaceted phenom who shares her soul in this blog.