Beliefnet
The Bliss Blog

 

This morning, I joined friends and neighbors in the nearby community of Doylestown, PA to  honor a time of remembrance of loved ones passed and past. In this country, the commemoration of Memorial Day, even though it heralds the first ‘unofficial weekend of summer’, is at its core, about thanking those who gave their lives in military combat over the decades. It  had its origin in the Civil War era. From sidewalks, multi-generational family groups and friends, two leggeds and four leggeds, stood and sat in colorful chairs, chatting animatedly. Doylestown’s parade is the oldest in the country and brings out military, scouting, historical, spiritual, entertainment, social and social justice groups.

I sat with friends from the Doylestown Food Co-op in a prime spot at the home of one of the members, so we could see everything.

Loved the parade. Enjoyed the rich diversity of people there, from all different  parts of the world and varying lifestyles; tattooed biker dudes nearby turbaned Hindus, watching Irish step dancers leap on by them…..melting pot culture is what we are indeed. That brings out the best of what America is about.

My only discomfort was the machine gun sound in the midst of a crowd that emanated from an army tank. It’s one thing to honor military personnel who have served either by choice or draft. It’s another to glorify weaponry and war in that way. Haven’t too many died? It seems to me that this makes it seem like shooting is cool, guns are cool; and I know that there are some people who may be reading this, who may be gun owners and may indeed believe that. We can agree to disagree on that point. Can you imagine looking the ‘enemy’ in the eye and seeing someone’s son, daughter, mother, father, sister, brother, husband, wife or partner?  Could you really pull the trigger if that was the case? I can’t imagine what it would be like, to be face to face in a kill or be killed situation. As a therapist, I have worked with those who have seen combat and returned with severe PTSD. One was an army medic who thought his house was under attack, so he threw his sleeping wife on the floor and attempted to choke her. He confessed through tears that  “I went in as a healer and they turned me into a killer.” Part of his task was to “pick up body parts.”

I would love to have seen peace groups being a larger and more visible part of the parade.  Admittedly, I am a gracefully aging tree-hugging hippie whose desire is to live long enough to witness whirled peas(:

 

http://youtu.be/L5pgrKSwFJE I Ain’t Marchin’ Anymore- Phil Ochs

http://youtu.be/UC9pc4U40sI Universal Soldier-Don0van

This image zapped me yesterday and at first I didn’t want to look at it, or even acknowledge it. I much prefer to live in light than in darkness. Paradoxically, my work as a therapist over the past 3 decades has been with people who sit in shadow, cast out by those who were supposed to protect and nurture them. As I witnessed their pain, I would move to shine a torch, candle, flashlight…. whatever I had, so as to pull them out of it. I would sometimes metaphorically speaking, climb in with them. Not only would I do that with clients, but with friends and family members. That’s when it got tricky. The expectation (mine and theirs) was that I find ways to fix what was going on for them or find answers to their personal puzzles.

And then there were times when someone with whom I was in a romantic relationship, would foist their own box on me, as if somehow by accepting it, would prove that I loved them; a loyalty test. Those were the most challenging.

All the time, every day, these realizations come to me. Sometimes the box full of darkness was theirs’ that they ‘shared with me’ because they couldn’t carry it themselves and sometimes I willingly took it on. These days, I am open to help someone open their box and sort through it, without cleaning it up FOR them. Even more than that, I have come to acknowledge, that I too have a darkness box that contains age old fears, misperceptions and like Pandora’s Box, I kept the lid slammed and nailed down so the emotional demons wouldn’t escape. These days, I have asked them (and thus far they have complied) to peek out and not knock me over in an effort to get out. Looking at the picture above, I also notice that behind the lock is a glow that really IS  the gift contained within. Each one of my gremlins is indeed a teacher. That is the key that will break the chains.

 

 

 

Overheard in the bathroom at the gym recently : there was a young woman who was there with a friend and looked in the mirror and said “I look like shit today.”  My initial inclination was to mind my own business, since what I had to say might not be well received. She didn’t seem like a happy camper to begin with. Then my maternal instincts kicked in and since I really am old enough to be her mother, I was not about to let the opportunity pass by to have a potentially positive impact.

I couldn’t resist asking her if she would ever talk to anyone else that way and surprised, she said “Of course not.” I gave her the most compassionate look that I could, and asked her to please not speak to herself that way.  Her friend said nothing, which was equally surprising to me since my friends would likely challenge that verbalized perception of myself.  Maybe she agreed. Maybe she didn’t know what to say.

I should have reminded her where she was which was Planet Fitness-the Judgment Free Zone of all places:)

I then walked away and began my workout. As I was sweating on the elliptical, I noticed my own self deprecating thoughts about levels of fitness, endurance, energy, with the focus on my belly, which is so for many women I know. I have such a love-almost-not-quite-hate-but rather-less-than-appreciative view of my 54 year old body. We teach what we need to learn, so this is my lesson. When I was in my 20’s I was itsy bitsy teeny tiny by most standards. Over the interceding years, the weight jumped on board. Sneaky that way.  I lost a fair amount of weight a few years ago and am in so much better shape now than I was prior to peeling off those layers, but am still not content. Without using the same words as the woman who splattered self criticism in the mirror, I was doing the same thing.  She was MY mirror. I need to clean the lenses through which I view the image reflected back at me.

 

 

 

There are some moments  when the petty, day to day annoyances melt away in the face of the fireball sun realization that life is fleeting, experiences are transient and people are on loan to us. Last night, when I watched the You Tube viral phenom video called My Last Days (On Rainn Wilson’s Soulpancake channel) about the courageous journey of  a young man named Zach Sobiech and his family and friends, I knew such an instant.  Silly me, though, I viewed it right before bed, with tears streaming down my face. Diagnosed with osteosarcoma in 2009, Zach not only survived, but thrived for the interceding 4 years and passed on May 20, 2013. What moved me the most about the video was that it offered an unabashed perspective that love lives on even after the body dies. The soul (whatever that is) of the person is inextricably connected with a tether of light to all those it ever touched. At least, that is my take on it. I imagine Zach and his circle of support experienced ‘the inevitable dark night of the soul’, but seemed to be able to turn them into something enduringly positive, something that will make a difference in countless lives.

In the midst of the pain; both emotional and physical, Zach continued  what would be considered ‘normal’ activities for a teenager, including school, a sweet relationship with a devoted young woman named Amy, deep bonds with his parents and siblings and music as an outlet for his emotions. He wrote these poignant words that have spread worldwide:

Clouds

Well I fell down, down, down Into this dark and lonely hole There was no one there to care about me anymore And I needed a way to climb and grab a hold of the edge You were sitting there holding a rope

And we’ll go up, up, up But I’ll fly a little higher We’ll go up in the clouds because the view is a little nicer Up here my dear It won’t be long now, it won’t be long now

When I get back on land Well I’ll never get my chance Be ready to live and it’ll be ripped right out of my hands Maybe someday we’ll take a little ride We’ll go up, up, up and everything will be just fine

And we’ll go up, up, up But I’ll fly a little higher We’ll go up in the clouds because the view is a little nicer Up here my dear

It won’t be long now, it won’t be long now If only I had a little bit more time If only I had a little bit more time with you

We could go up, up, up And take that little ride And sit there holding hands And everything would be just right And maybe someday I’ll see you again We’ll float up in the clouds and we’ll never see the end

And we’ll go up, up, up But I’ll fly a little higher We’ll go up in the clouds because the view is a little nicer Up here my dear It won’t be long now, it won’t be long now

Help fund cancer research for kids like Zach

www.childrenscancer.org/zach

I can barely comprehend what must be happening in the hearts and minds of those who knew him best; a roller coaster ride of emotion. From my heart to theirs, I wish them the kind of love that cradles them in comfort and uplifts them to the celestial.

http://youtu.be/9NjKgV65fpo My Last Days

http://youtu.be/sDC97j6lfyc Clouds by Zach Sobiech

http://youtu.be/7zxXAtmmLLc Clouds-Celebrity Tribute

 

Stars Serenade Zach Sobiech in Appreciation of His Brave Cancer Fight| The Lumineers, Heroes Among Us, Health, Anna Faris, Ashley Tisdale, Colbie Caillat, Jason Mraz, Jenna Fischer, Phillip Phillips, Sara Bareilles

Zach Sobiech with friend Sammy Brown

J. Dunn Photography