Don’t expect the person who is suffering to reach out for help. Swoop in to check up on the person who is suffering.
Be mindful of their privacy and respectful of their boundaries, but make your availability known to them.
Offer your shoulder, your time, your attention, your company, your dog, your blanket, your sofa, your snacks.
By the time a person in pain is too desperate to reach out, don’t stand on ceremony, manners or what if’s.
♥ www.livingbroken.org ♥
Giving power to personal stories of thriving
through wearable, shareable art.
I was on Amtrak’s Northeast Regional from DC to Baltimore when I got the alert that Kate Spade had ended her life. I couldn’t believe it and I desperately searched the internet for posts that proved the news a hoax.
But it wasn’t a hoax and the horrible news was confirmed immediately by credible sources.
I texted my sister-in-law.
“Kate Spade killed herself.”
Knowing she would be pressed for the best way to respond, I added “I can’t un-know that.”
Kakki, the sister I had always wanted, texted back.
“oh no,” she said.
I’ve been considering loose structures for a regular blog. I feel like having a loose structure would be easier to maintain than the current ‘when I’ve got something to say‘ approach.
Even if I don’t have much to say, a loose structure would provide me a nudge toward something, right?
But none of the loose structures I’ve imagined have inspired me. For some reason, I keep coming back to “tell me your peach and pit” or “what are your top ten whatevers?”
The problems with a top ten list are obvious.
What if you can’t come up with ten items?
Sure, I know. You can change the number. You can make the top ten list into a top three list. Or a top seven list.
But what if you can’t decide on the theme of the list?
I don’t think I need to say that it’s been anything but quiet around here. My little corner of here and the greater world of here have been loud and chaotic, demanding attention.
But you knew that.
And I said it anyway.
Because it helps me to process the noise if I first acknowledge that THERE IS NOISE.
My Facebook feed has recently been adorned with enthusiastic, bold t-shirts for suicide awareness.
The t-shirts shout out loudly that nobody fights suicide alone.
This week I lent my support to the #metoo campaign of women and men helping to make more women and men aware of what we all supposedly already know, but apparently also don’t know.
Really? We still don’t know?
I’m sorry. I guess I thought we all knew.
And honestly, I thought one of the reasons we all knew was because it had happened to most, if not all of us.
Sometimes things become possible if we want them bad enough.
Giving real life stories value, purpose and power.
Thank you to the lovely Dr. Anita Auerbach for allowing me to share her eulogy for Richard Thompson. Her words met me where I was at. And for that I am grateful.
EULOGY for RICHARD THOMPSON
For some reason the brightest stars always seem to burn too briefly. Life in the end, as portrayed in a popular Jimi Hendrix song “is the blink of an eye.”
Richard Thompson came into my life very late in his. There began between us a series of meetings in which no topic was off-limits, no emotion, no thought was unspeakable. We smiled, we cried and we told stories to each other. But so often we laughed, particularly Richard laughed, guffawed really, when we reviewed some of his own comic strips and caricatures!! It was as if he was there at their inception again when he knew finally he had gotten it right. For sure, we spoke of the frustrations giving birth to these portraits: the many drawings crumbled, and comic strip concepts torn up, the garbage cans kicked to the other side of the room, the all-nighters, the half-nighters and the no-nighters!
But all of this faded away in his laughter. And this is what I want to impart to you: the extraordinary capacity of this man to retain a sense of humor, a sense of the wry and absurd, even for his own situation: the juxtaposition of his enormous talent trapped in a body that had become so frail and incapacitated, and yet the still huge capacity for laughter and delight. It was a nobility of spirit I have rarely seen, and it was ennobling just to be in the presence of it.
How did he do it? Well he didn’t do it alone and he knew it: “My girls” he would say, “my girls”. His darling wife Amy with whom he found both physical and emotional support, his daughter Emma whose antics on the elevated manhole cover in their neighborhood served as his inspiration for Cul de Sac, and his daughter Charlotte with whose quiet, gentleness of spirit he most closely identified. And Rudy, his trusted aide, whose warmth and strength combined to keep things moving and safe. Visits from his father and brother. And his remarkable colleagues, some of whom you have heard from today, were so sustaining: Nick Galifianakis, Bono Mitchell, Pete Doctor to name just a few whose frequent visits created such anticipation and delight. And when Pete dropped off the director’s cut of his brilliant movie animation Inside Out (in which Richard is mentioned in the credits) and a baseball cap of the same name, Richard proudly bestowed on me the video to view, but he never took off the cap!
I asked Richard once when I was meeting with him now at home, as it was clear we were very near the end, “Are you ready?” “Noooo!” was his response. “What more do you want to do?” I asked. He pointed to his favorite caricature of Beethoven behind him and said simply “Art”. Later that same day, as I stood with Nick outside the Thompson home, he said to me ”You know who that is in there [referring to Richard]? That’s Beethoven.”
We lost Richard shortly after that. But in the end, his was a death with dignity. Why? Because he died in character. Amy made sure of that. He died the way he lived: at home, surrounded by loved ones, all of the enormously prolific art of his career, and even by the characters of Cul de Sac – scenery designed and built by Amy for the play she wrote, directed and produced in bringing the comic strip to the stage.
Astronomy teaches us that there are stars we now see whose light reaches the earth even after they themselves have disintegrated. And so too for us can Richard’s bright, funny, shining memory, the extraordinary reservoir of art and talent that flowed from his hands and his heart, light our world even after he has long passed from it.
Amy, Emma and Charlotte, know for yourselves that the difficulties of his last days, from which this was his only exit, will someday begin to fade so that time heals much of the pain and all that remains is the beauty of the memories, and the love, always the love.
Eleanor Roosevelt in eulogy of her husband Franklin (FDR) said:
“They are not dead who live in lives they leave behind. In those whom they have blessed,they live a life again.”
‘So let us not cry because it is over; let’s smile because it happened.’
Surely a spirit so strong as Richard’s can endure in the hearts of those he leaves behind, so that in the words of a favorite poem:
The tide recedes but leaves behind
bright seashells on the sand
The sun goes down but gentle warmth
still lingers on the land
The music stops and yet it lingers on
in sweet refrain:
For every joy that passes
something beautiful remains.
Godspeed, Richard Thompson. Peace be with you. You did all that you could do. Your family who were like friends and friends who were like family, your colleagues and many supporters did all that they could do. Thank you for all you did for all of us. We will miss you but we will celebrate your life for the gift it was in ours.
Dr. Anita Auerbach
26 August 2016
National Press Club
which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass,
of glory in the flower,
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.
The Trivial I.
I chatted tonight with a friend from forever ago.
I can talk about our conversation here because he doesn’t read my blog. He won’t know I spoke about him publicly… for however public this blog is.
But he wouldn’t mind me talking about him anyway. He’s engaged in self-discovery and committed to the value of transparency. And our conversations count as that for him – since everything counts as that for him.
This friend is a former love interest, a former partner-in-crime. But it was so many lives ago that it doesn’t even seem like it was us. I remember those years like it was something that happened to two other people.
I wonder if that’s how others my age view their past lives.
It’s just that life has happened over and over again since that time and now we are completely different people. We are the same, of course, in essence, in character, in personality, in spirit.
But we are different.
Different people with a shared past that is so remote.
So he told me about his journey in meditation.
I was happy for him. I’ve been meditating much longer and I know how it can change a life for the much better.
He told me about his work on self-discovery.
I was cautiously happy for him. I realize his self-discovery is occurring within his very narrowly established view of the world. His discovery, like mine, will be limited to what we already believe to be true.
Then he told me about his morning meditation. An inspired, hopeful, committed and dedicated affirmation about his life.
And I tripped.
It was an incantation where every sentence began with “I” or “my” – I will be this, I will be that….my life is this, my life is that.
And I realized that I’ve lost my connection to the world of self-discovery.
I used to be all about finding my true self, being a better self, and changing my self from what it was to what it can be.
I even used to motivate others to do the same.
But I’ve changed.
I no longer believe as strongly in the focus on self.
And, to be honest, I’m a little worried.
Maybe I’m doing it wrong. Or missing out. Or skipping a step.
If this is too vague, I’m sorry. I’m trying not to rant.
But I did some research into the morning meditations and they overwhelmingly seemed very “I” focused….at least to me.
I want a morning meditation that starts with “The world around me” or ‘we’ or ‘us’ or something like that. I don’t want to focus on what I am or what I will be today. I want to focus on what the world needs today.
I’m not able to give the world too much of what it needs today.
And I certainly won’t be selfless today.
I will be selfish today, dogmatic, stuck in my schedule and married to my routine.
But I’d like to think, at least, that I’m thinking about the world.
Find me a meditation that reminds me I am small and that my thoughts are small.
Find me a meditation that says my gratitude is not the goal…just a tool in my efforts to meet my goals head on.
Find me a meditation that says today is all I have… to do things different and perhaps make a difference, however trivial.
What is your meditation?
And if it’s focused on I, it’s okay. I won’t yell at you or judge you.
I’ll learn from you.
Because seriously. It’s me, not you.