Friday, June 8, 2018

Ripples on the Water

I'm thinking about suicide today.

This, after the news that Anthony Bourdain was found in his hotel room. Dead. At age 61. Only a few days ago, Kate Spade was found at home. Dead. At age 55. I can't help but wonder what drives a person to end his or her life, especially one who seems to have everything in life. At least all the good things people seem to want out of life. Money, success, family, fame, respect, talent. And so much more. 

Makes me sad.

It also has me thinking about my own life and how fortunate I feel to be a person who does not feel driven to end my life. There is no judgment here. There is some curiosity, and a great deal of compassion. At times I feel some melancholy. At times I feel some futility. At times I feel lonely. At times I feel like a failure. At times I feel guilt and shame around the occasions when I do not live up to the expectations I have for myself, or when I've hurt someone, or when I've looked away while another person is struggling, or around other circumstances in my life that I am perfectly happy not to disclose.

The human struggle.

As I ponder these things I also remember so many things that bring joy. I got together with friends this evening. We had a great time together. We have a strong friendship and a trustworthy bond. Yesterday I got together with a peer group for a regular meeting around the work we do, work that is highly specialized, stressful, and challenging. I appreciate those folks more than I can say and am grateful to be part of such a powerful and compassionate camaraderie. The day before, I met with the young, hipster musician at the church I am currently working with. He is talented, creative, and courageous. He brings so much to the church and I'm pretty sure they understand how fortunate they are to have him. He composes music and creates amazing arrangements and improvisations. They clap when he plays in worship. I like that about them. 

He loves that I am a poet and has shared that he'd like to get his hands on some of my poetry. Wants to set it to music. At our meeting Wednesday, I shared that one of the poems in my collection is actually a song. And that I'd created a melody as well as the poetry. He wanted to hear the song and asked me to sing it. Call me crazy, but I did. Then he asked if I'd sing it again and if he could record me. I did that too. He photographed the page in the print proof with the poem and told me he wanted to create some music for it. 

A day later he sent me a music file with some music that took my breath away. He said it was "just rough" and hoped that I like it. 

Like it? It's amazing. I had to stop more than once in the last couple of days to remember that my poem inspired such beautiful music. His brilliance and creativity enabled him to dream a completely new work of art into being, out of the art I had created. He mentioned as an aside that he was gathering musicians and thinks he found a vocalist. I'm excited to see what comes of this. To see what art might be born from this collaboration.

I bought some beautiful peonies and freesia today. Someone suggested that I do something nice for myself and that is what I chose. She wanted me to have a reminder of how special I am and suggested that, all too often, we forget ourselves. She wanted me to remember myself. And since I live alone, it can be easy to not remember. To get busy and distracted and to forget to be kind to myself. She reminded me that I need to do that for myself because I no longer have a life partner to mirror what is unique and lovable about me.  

I listened to a TED talk today that featured the fourth director of the Harvard longitudinal study on happiness. The outcome of the 75-year study is that the quality of our relationships is what makes for a happy, fulfilling life. I've also been listening to a summit featuring speakers who are experts in working with people with trauma. Each of them, so far, has noted that it is not the so-called "traumatic event" that creates trauma, but how we respond or react to it that determines our relationship with it.

There's that word again. Relationship. 

There is so much to reflect on with regard to relationships. Any connection we have to anything or anyone or anywhere is a relationship. As I think about just that one thing, the image of tossing a pebble into a pond and watching the ripples move out over the surface of the water comes up for me. 

I've completed a week and a day of the Summer of Self-Love. I have kept my word to myself that I would write every day. A new relationship with writing is developing and it feels potent to me. It's the same kind of power that I notice when I watch ripples moving out across the water after the simple, but powerful, act of releasing a stone and knowing that, through that, I have created movement. 

The Summer of Self-Love is a daily writing practice birthed on June 1, 2018 as a container for harnessing three months of thriving. The goal at the end is to have a dinner party. Sounds like an odd Hero's Journey, doesn't it? Most of them usually are.

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