The rain falling today is mirroring my somber mood this week. This week I lost a friend. Actually he wasn’t my friend, he was America’s
friend. After teaching yoga Monday night I went home to find out that Robin Williams had taken his life. Maybe it’s the level of stress I am feeling lately or the project I am working on but his death has hit me at the core. Last night in a text chat with my brother while on the T, I
burst into tears reflecting on all amazing moments that America has shared with Williams. I was reminded that he is a celebrity/comedian who spanned a handful of generations. I am lucky enough to remember his early stand up days and time spent on Comic Relief as well as Mork and Mindy. As kids we watched Mork with my aunt and I remember having the suspenders (didn’t everyone back then?) As I grew older and watched old clips of his stand up, I was able to see the pain that was lingering behind the veil of laughter. He was brilliant in his ability to switch characters and intuitively move from one incarnation seamlessly into the next. Comedic timing has never been so
innate as it was back then with the oldie but goodies. Of all the film clips one could find of Robin Williams lighting up the hearts of people everywhere, it was this one that sums up how I feel today. So fitting was this clip of Mork grieving over the loss of his friend as it is exactly how many are feeling of the news of his loss.
It struck me during my text chat last night that we are often far more loved than we could ever imagine. Our life struggles become our personal war stories as we get trapped in the details of them. The world begins to get smaller and smaller as we are drawn inward towards our pain. When one travels that deep within it is like going into a dark cave alone without a flashlight. You have no way of getting out and no one to help you navigate. We forget very easily that our pain is the world’s pain. Our stories may change, faces and names may be different, styles of dress, titles and labels but in the end our pain is all the same because we are part of a whole. No one gets out of this lifetime without suffering. It happens in varying degrees and the details of the suffering may shift and change but part of being alive in this body, in this world is that you will suffer. The key is to believe in your heart that you are not alone and that the cave is not black. In social work school we were taught that we will most likely never know the impact we have on others. This is particularly important for those working in the field because they often don’t get to see the fruits of their labor. A lot of times people are so stuck in the dark cave or have been so mistreated that they become like a wounded animal; ready to attack anyone who gets close. Experiencing this over and over for years, maybe decades, is what causes burnout for social workers. This harden cynical exterior doesn’t just exist within social workers but it happens for many people due to the daily struggles of life. We easily forget that we could actually be of service to others and by doing so this could help us in turn. Or better yet that we are the ones that need the help. People donate money to charities or run relay races to fund raise but forget that actually the way to help is by doing the small acts of kindness along the way. It’s the smile in a strangers face, the good morning or hello, holding the door open for someone, letting someone go in front of you in traffic or at the grocery store. It is all these little things that help
us begin to feel less alone in the world.
For me, it never made much sense that there was a white guy with a beard in the sky orchestrating life. But what has rung true to the deepest part of my soul is that we are all connected. That God like or Universal energy is within all of us; even those that seem to engage in acts of evil. They too have the capacity for goodness. It is just hidden underneath their pain. We are all on this journey together. I believe that there is a guru or teacher within all of us. We have the capacity to be taught and to teach. We all have the potential for transformation and enlightenment. As I have written about recently, what we label our suffering as really doesn’t matter much to me these days. The labels are limiting and typically only work to put people in categories and boxes. We are all struggling. We are all just trying to get through the day in
the best way we know how. We would be doing better if we were open to the possibility of change and had the skills to facilitate such change. The person on the street begging for money is stuck in a rut for many reasons; often times it’s due to addiction. There are many ways you can help and sometimes that dollar bill for an alcoholic will go towards a bottle of liquor just so that she/he doesn’t start convulsing and die on the street. We never know what it’s like to walk in another’s shoes. If you know of someone struggling, please reach out. Share a cup of tea with them, give them a warm blanket, a cup of soup, maybe even share with them information on the National Suicide Prevention http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/. Most of all, make sure that they know they are loved more than they know. When our struggles become our personal torment, we forget we are loved. Just for today, tell someone you know you love them and appreciate their beauty. The more we do to increase our connection with each other, the more we all are capable of feeling that Universal love.
I will end with this from Ziggy Marley as I feel like he said it best
Love is my religion…
Much love to you….