When I got to my car after work today, I spotted something small and shiny in the empty parking space next to mine, and I picked it up. It was a metallic red bead, about 3/8 inch in diameter, with a tiny gold loop coming out from it. It probably fell off someone's bangly bracelet.
Since it wasn't worth keeping I tossed it away, but as it was leaving my hand, I thought, "What if it explodes?" I didn't take the question seriously, but still... For the moment the bead sailed through the air, I held my breath. And then it landed harmlessly. I got in my car and drove home.
It's a different world now than it used to be. A world with questions like this one that come from nowhere and from we-know-where at the same time. A world where people, like me, who are open and like to talk to strangers that don't look scary, are finding more people to be cautious about.
Maybe I'm slow in catching up to the real world, but this is America. We like foreign people. We like listening to their accents and hearing about where they came from and how much they like it here. I like these things.
What I don't like is suddenly wondering about the danger from extremists. I only mention it now, because this is the first time in a few years that I've considered the chance of being blown up. The last time was the first or second Thanksgiving after 9/11, when they warned about plots to bomb malls on the Friday after Thanksgiving. But I didn't worry, because I make it a practice not to shop on days when I'd need full body armor to protect me from the other shoppers.
I'm not looking for answers or explanations or words of comfort. All I'm saying is that I found a bead on the ground today and I wondered if it would explode, and I hate what that says about where events are taking us and what that could mean to our lives.