Archive for September, 2007
> The candid photo accidentally taken by tourists of a Moroccan woman walking down a roadside carrying a child on her back who may be Madeleine McCann, the 3-year-old British toddler missing from a Portugal vacation resort since May is heart breaking for several reasons.
The obvious reason is that if this is the McCann child her trauma, and that of her parents seeing her as she is depicted with strangers, must be overwhelmingly painful. Having a daughter of my own, I don’t even want to imagine being in such a terrible situation.
The less obvious reason is that if one thinks about how easily the child in this photo could be Madeleine, or any other unsuspecting child, then one must confront the responsibility we all have for the illegal baby and child slave labor trades worldwide. In a 2006 article by Kristen Lingowitz, she reports on child slave labor as follows:
“..throughout Asia and South and Central America it has become very
prevalent. Children as young as four years old are being held captive
and forced to do work that the average American would find
inconceivable. Worldwide, there is an estimated 250 million children
between the ages of five and fourteen working in developing countries
around the globe.”
In addition, the World Health Organization reports that in Asia alone, an estimated 20-40 million children toil in debt servitude.
Madeleine McCann is not the typical case although, if alive and not found, her fate may be typical. And while she was not born into poverty in a third-world country, or abandoned somewhere to an unknown fate, we can perhaps be the wiser as a result of her tragic experience.
Madeleine McCann’s parents were vacationing at a Portugal resort when they went to enjoy a dinner with friends elsewhere in the complex, leaving their three small children alone in a hotel room. It was under those circumstances that Madeleine disappeared. While I am not judging the parents for their action, or blaming them for their daughter’s plight, the obvious question arises: Is dinner out with friends worth the risk of placing a child or children at risk for harm?
Everyone must answer that question for themselves and take responsibility for their decision. I know that when our daughter, now 14, was between the ages of 2 and 5, we never even went out to dinner leaving her with a sitter. We simply didn’t go out. And as she got older, unless she was in summer camp (and with only one exception) we have never vacationed without her.
This is not to say our approach was correct or the only way to deal with raising a child while finding necessary and independent adult time. But it is to say that once one makes the decision to bring a life into this world, there begins a stage wherein there’s little room for ego gratification and self-indulgence…and even less room for a margin of error in regard to the child’s safety and wellbeing.
When we were adopting our daughter, my husband (who had been married previously and raised two sons) told me that “once we have a child, there will be no time for us.” I listened. But somewhere I thought he was saying there would be less time for us. I simply could not believe there would be no time.
It’s 12 years later and he was, literally, correct. There is no time because raising a child is a full time job if you want to do it right…or even try to. Romantic dinners, adult only vacations and private time, while nice and perhaps even necessary, need to be re-prioritized to a lesser degree of importance where the safety and well being of the child is not compromised.
My heart goes out to Madeleine McCann and her family. My heart goes out as well to every child suffering under the weight of neglect and abuse. We should all be pained as members of the human race for those millions of children worldwide that are the object of greed and cruelty.
We can do something about it one child at a time by refocusing our priorities on what matters. What matters is our responsibility to the children and the possibilities for the future.
What we know for sure is…the children are the future.
> We’ve just been gifted a stunning
contrast in the use, or misuse, of higher education and the public trust.
Carnegie Mellon University, founded in 1900, invited 43-year-old
Professor Randy Pausch to speak as part of the University’s “Last
Lecture Series.” These are lectures by guest professors who, hypothetically, have only one lecture left to give. At about the same time, Columbia University founded in 1893 invited
51-year-old Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak and
participate in a Q&A session.
Two universities founded during
the same era having two guest speakers of the same generation provided
us with a rare glimpse into two alternate realities.
Pausch, husband and father of three young children, is dying of
pancreatic cancer with no more than, at best, a few months to live. For him the Carnegie’s “Last Lecture” premise is not a hypothetical. Yet the message he conveyed in his speech was in support of the sanctity and uniqueness of every human life. His
delivery was filled with joy and laughter. This man has “been more alive” in his 43 years and produced more creative accomplishments than most of
us will do regardless of how long we live. He faces death as he embraces
life…with enthusiasm, joy and a sense of wonder. He leaves his
children (and those of us fortunate enough to have heard him or read
the transcript) with a joy for life, a sense of wonder, and an
understanding for the importance of giving oneself and others enough
support, encouragement and time to be the best they are capable of
President Ahmadinejad, also a husband and father of
three young children, appears to be healthy of body but is diseased of
mind and Soul. He is a proponent of genocide, suppression of individual
rights, the death penalty for “moral” violations that offend Islam, and
the imposition and oversight by government of individual religious
beliefs. His message is one of separation, judgment, oppression, and the
use of deadly force to accomplish one’s goals.
has used it’s venue to uplift the human spirit, affirm the highest
good, ignite the hearts and inspire the minds of those who will take us
into the future.
Columbia has used it’s venue to feed the egos
of President Ahmadinejad and it’s own President Bollinger. More
troubling is that it’s leadership chose to give energy, and
thereby support, to the destructive rantings of a troubled Soul by
providing him with a platform and making him it’s focal point.
Columbia’s choice gave fuel only to the continuation of such behavior
on the part of Ahmadinejad and others like him. Apparently, inspiration of the students was not even on
the program yesterday. Surely, it must have never even crossed President Bollinger’s
So what can we learn from these two men?
friend of mine, who passed away a few years ago, used to say “We’re all
crippled in some way. It’s just that on some of us it shows, and on
others it doesn’t.” She meant it in the most loving way…to say how
each of us must struggle with limitation and by so doing, overcome it.
Professor Pausch is struggling with death. It’s visible and immediate
and he’s overcoming it by walking directly into the unknown with an
enlightened spirit and leaving for his children, and ours, a message of
encouragement and hope.
President Ahmadinejad is struggling with
death as well. A confused and twisted psyche can’t be isolated, or as
readily “seen”, as the tumors on Professor Pausch’s pancreas but the
disease and disintegration are there, just the same. And be assured
it’s deadly. More so, really. Because Ahmadinejad, who believes that
dying for what he believes in is just, will not be satisfied to do that himself. He wants to impose death on as many others as he sees fit.
I think the lesson is that we create this world we pass through by where
we place our thoughts, our energies, and our time.
Professor Pausch, by
example, has given us a priceless road map for how to traverse life,
and accept death, in a way that mirrors for us all humankind’s highest
On the other hand, Ahmadinejad, by example, represents a dead-end
route identified by a clearly marked “Detour” sign, illustrating where not to go and, hopefully, re-directing us on a path well lit and headed for higher ground.
We have a soon-to-be university age daughter.
In our quest to forever expand her understanding of the world as
well as her sense of compassion and justice, guess where she will not be going.
> I’ve raised more than one stray cat in my life and learned a thing or two from those experiences. Perhaps the most important lesson ever was triggered by an observation my husband made yesterday and the answer I gave. He noted how Sprout, a kitten we had taken in shortly after birth and Dave, a truly feral cat, had both come to trust humans over time and yet how Ellie, another stray, had never stopped living in fear, although she had spent 15+ years lovingly cared for by our family.
Ellie walks with a severe limp and cowers from the slightest touch as a result of having been abused as a kitten. It’s also the point of origin for her fear of humans, and, as I call it, her “default mode” for seeing the world as a hurtful and dangerous place. I told my husband that was the difference between Sprout, Dave and Ellie. Sprout and Dave had first encounters with humans that were not burdened by pain. Ellie was not so blessed.
I think we humans are no different.
Each of us was born knowing little of the world we encountered with our first breath. So much depended on the welcome. Not just in those first moments, but well beyond into the ensuing years as we fell and stumbled our way through the early stages of childhood. How many of us were greeted and guided as Sprout and Dave were…and how many as Ellie?
I don’t mean to say that if we are not lovingly cared for then we are necessarily abused (although that could probably be a blog in itself.) What I mean to say is that we are all born Dreamers with an Artist tucked away inside.
We come into this world with boundless wonder knowing only limitless possibility. Too quickly, I think, we are taught the boundaries of wonder and the limitations around possibility. We are encouraged to fit rather than explore; to conform rather than create; to settle rather than wander. Dreams cannot flourish and mature in constricted places. They need to be unfettered and unrestrained and have the luxury of limitless expansiveness. Lacking that, they lose vital energy, wither and, ultimately, die.
You might think that’s the saddest part. But it’s not. For it’s the Dreamer who finds it’s way to the Artist within. Without the Dreamer, the Artist will never be birthed.
Each of us comes into the world with a purpose that is our own artistic contribution to the co-creative process. It is our Soul/sole purpose in being Here.
Ellie is quite old and, sadly, dying. It’s too late for her to have lived a life other than the one she has lived. We humans are more fortunate. At any moment, while still Here, we can call forth the Dreamer of long ago and begin the search for the Artist within.
There are no guarantees. We may or may not succeed in birthing the Artist. Ah, but to live the life of the Dreamer!
“Not all that glitters is gold. Not all who wander are lost.”
Now, there’s a welcome sign I’d like to see at every birth.
> As we live through challenging times, and often turn to the lives of celebrities to distract us from more pressing matters, I’d like to clear up two misperceptions. 1) The lives of famous people are easier than ours, and 2) We are bound by the life circumstances we are now living.
I think much of the fascination with the lives of the rich and famous is the illusion that they somehow have it better or easier and, therefore, don’t have to face the mundane matters or difficult decisions we do. That’s simply not true. No one, regardless of fame, wealth or social status gets to circumvent the “why” of why we’re here.
We’re here to grow through our weaknesses and expand upon our strengths. The fact is everyone has them. Of course, mine are different than yours. However, each of us will have countless opportunities, by way of life choices and life experiences, to overcome our weaknesses and apply our strengths for the highest good.
What we do in idealizing the rich or famous is to elevate them to an artificial status that simply doesn’t exist, while negating the purposefulness inherent in our own lives.
The other reason I think we tend to overindulge in such distraction is that we also misperceive our own life situations as somehow stagnant or, at least, too difficult to change. We get into life patterns that do not suit our true nature and yet, feel trapped by the very circumstances we’ve created through choice.
Changing our circumstances is possible but requires a certain amount of honesty with oneself.
First, it requires that we acknowledge responsibility for the choices we have made that resulted in the life situations in which we find ourselves. Secondly, it requires that in those situations where we seem not to have made a choice, but instead find ourselves in less-than-desireable conditions, we adjust how we perceive those conditions. For how we see things makes all the difference in both what we see as well as how we experience it. I am often reminded of the book by Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl, in which he writes about the importance of bringing meaning in one’s experiences (as in the suffering and degrading conditions of concentration camp internment) and how such meaning can literally make the difference between life and death.
There is no real benefit to wasting precious time lost in someone else’s life…whether it’s Britney Spears, O. J. Simpson, or your best friend. Each of us is gifted a finite amount of time in these bodies to experience the world in our own unique way and, by so doing, bring added meaning to existence.
Today, take the time and energy you might otherwise spend on someone else’s life script and apply it to your own. Take responsibility for the decisions you have made, realize you can see it all differently any time you choose, and them make today’s decisions fully conscious of their importance.
In case you’ve forgotten, you are directing, editing and starring in this production.
> On a day when headlines read as usual “Oprah Asks Justin About Britany” and “Al Qaeda Wants Jihad Against Musharraf” what a welcome relief to read “Yousiff’s Surgery Went Well, Doctor Said” referring, of course, to the delicate operation (the first of many to be performed) on the 5-year-old boy from Iraq who was dragged from his home by masked men and brutally doused with gasoline then set on fire.
What a testimony to the kindness of strangers and the possibilities that exist when we use our will and our technology for the highest good of all concerned. Many people, worldwide, were so moved by the tragedy that they contributed money, transportation and medical skills in order to provide this child with surgery and the possibility of a normal life.
Yousiff’s story is the kind of news that elevates our thoughts and opens our hearts. It’s stories such as his that provide the opportunity for we, as members of humankind to be the best we can be. And while his story is one of millions, it sets the example of what we are capable of when we use our power and our talent for good.
So let’s talk about the millions that don’t make the headlines. Those who remain faceless and nameless but who, nonetheless, daily suffer the anguish, pain and tragedies inflicted upon the defenseless and the disempowered. Whether it’s Darfur, Somalia, Columbia, or anywhere else in the world (including the United States), we are daily offered opportunities to step up, reach out and make a difference. And while I by no means belittle contributing money or time (for at that stage its about all one can do), I’d like to suggest more proactive and preventative measures.
If we can focus our attention on how interconnected we all are, how each of our actions impacts others both near and far, and how responsible we each are for the thoughts we have and the actions we take in furtherance of those thoughts, I believe it’s possible to change the world we now live in to such a degree that we actually cease co-creating the pain and suffering that surround us.
As far back as I can remember, I always liked to say, “Thoughts are things.” I just instinctively knew that to be true. Now, as humankind expands what we know about consciousness, we are beginning to prove that we actually effect reality with our thoughts. Perhaps soon we will prove that we not only effect it, we co-create it.
So, if in fact, our thoughts create the world in which we live, then its vital that we see ourselves, all of humankind, as One Unified Being with many parts, or aspects, of Itself. It’s vital that we understand that when we hurt one part or aspect of that One Unified Being, the pain is felt throughout and reactions occur accordingly. We must begin to think of how we can elevate the human condition, not perpetuate it’s suffering and tragedies by focusing our attention and our deeds on the highest good for all concerned.
I know all of the people who contributed money and time to make Yousiff’s journey and surgery possible are invaluable. But so are each one of us who focus our thoughts on his healing…and on the healing of pain and suffering everywhere.
Remember, “Thoughts are things.” Build the foundation for the world you want, brick by brick…thought by thought…deed by deed…and so it will be.
Blessings and healing to you, Yousiff.
Technorati Profile> O.J. Simpson is back in the news. I think we owe him a debt of gratitude for giving us the opportunity to get right what we failed to get right the last time he preoccupied the nation.
Let me start with an historical occurrence. Rabbi Akiba ben Joseph was a Judean sage at the time of the 1st century. It is said that he and 24,000 of his students all perished in one day from a plague. But in Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) it is said that they perished because of how they spoke to one another. How can this be? Can it be that simply being disrespectful to another is cause for death?
In physics, it has been proved that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. I think this may help us understand how the Kabbalistic perspective may have merit.
Life is designed to be an endless series of choices…from the most mundane to the most significant. We make the choices we make based upon where our consciousness is at any given moment. Different choices create or manifest different outcomes. If I have the chance to forgive someone or to seek revenge upon them I will experience, quite literally, the consequences of whichever choice I make. The higher and more developed your consciousness, the more challenging and nuanced the choice, the more immediate and proportionate the reaction.
Now it is said that Rabbi Akiba was one of the most spiritually enlightened beings during a time when a multitude of spiritual beings lived. The students that were drawn to him were likewise enlightened. At their level of consciousness, simply being unkind or insensitive in speech to another was cause for death. While such an outcome may be hard to comprehend, it’s also worth noting that at that time, murder and publicly embarrassing another through speech were the only two behaviors punishable by death. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
Let’s return to O.J. He’s just a human being making life choices for which he will ultimately experience the appropriate consequences. It’s a distraction and an abdication of our own personal responsibilities to give any time to what is going on in his life. Our choice is to follow all the media hoopla or not. It’s that simple.
When we choose to read story after story, watch newscast after newscast, listen to talk show after talk show on what’s happening now with O.J., we are not only guaranteed to get more of the same from the media, we are guaranteeing our own consequence as a result of our own choice. I believe that consequence to be trading off personal and spiritual growth for the diversion of judging another and feeding our ego the illusion that somehow we are better than he is.
We are not better than O.J. Simpson. We simply have different choices to make than he has. If we choose poorly at the levels we are at, our progress will be not better than his. It’s all a matter of degree.
Jesus, who lived at the time of Rabbi Akiba, said you can set the banquet table but you cannot make a person eat from it. It is likewise true that the media can daily feed us up a banquet of meaningless stories that have no real impact on our lives and we can eat, or not eat, from that table. The choice is ours.
This morning, CNN’s homepage (and many others) has O.J.’s photo in the lead box as the lead story. I have a blog to write, a 14-year-old to raise, a marriage to maintain, construction workers at my home, a lot of errands, and a book to finish writing.
CNN and O.J. don’t even factor in. But I thank them both for giving me this opportunity to choose.
> One of the most often quoted lines from the book of Kohelet in the Hebrew Bible (commonly known as the Book of Ecclesiastes) is the saying “…there is nothing new under the sun.” It would be good to reflect on this statement as world events speed up and all sorts of worries surface about global war, economic collapse and natural disasters.
While every generation has a tendency to think it’s problems are unique (and by far the most challenging) the truth remains that there are only so many difficulties to go around and they do just that. They “recycle” and emerge as variations on a theme generation after generation.
War has existed as long as humankind. So has selfishness, greed, and ego…the precursors of war. Economic issues (supply and demand) are equally as old as humankind and are, likewise, often times the basis for aggression. As for natural disasters, well, let’s go back to the Flood before we even get to global warming, earthquakes and tsunami warnings.
So, what can we glean from all this repetition?
I think it’s safe to conclude that what really changes is not the basic recipe but rather the rate of speed and magnitude of effect that are experienced. We’ve always been able to kill one another. It’s only in the past century that our expanded consciousness allowed us to co-create a way to do it that took out whole populations in a split second (or split atom, if you’ll allow me the pun). We’ve also always been able to feed our neighbors with our excess production of food, but only the past century saw us co-creating ways to do that for populations on the other side of the world from where we actually produce the surplus.
I’ve long been a proponent of the theory (perhaps mine alone) that technology outpaced spiritual evolution thus creating the “mess” in which we now find ourselves. But, recently I’ve been rethinking that theory and have a new one.
It turns out nothing is different at all, just faster with greater overall impact. The key to prosperity, and ultimately survival, rests not on stopping the rate of speed at which we now function, but in learning to adapt to it. How we do that is Part II of my new theory.
Each of us must stop listening to and following the people and the ways in which things have always been done and, instead, go within our own hearts to determine what is truth for us as individuals and then follow that truth. Admittedly, this will be different for each of us but I believe this is the way it was intended. People are like snowflakes, unique by design. The secret to overall sustainability of humankind is for each of us to not only find and live our own truth but allow others to find and live theirs as well.
In the rapidly accelerating world in which we find ourselves, it must be our own inner voice that directs us where to place our thoughts and how to prioritize our deeds so that we may eliminate the excess baggage carried forward from our collective past.
There is nothing new under the sun.
Except how we see it.
And how we choose to deal with it.
> I will admit at the outset that I have aways been more of a mystic than a religious person, although I was born and raised in Conservative Judaism. My father, a financially active member of our synagogue, did a yeoman’s job in raising a substantial amount of money to build the synagogue’s Frank Lloyd Wright designed new building. Shortly thereafter, he forever abandoned his synagogue attendance (except for weddings and funerals) when the synagogue began charging for High Holy Day seats by location…most expensive seats closest to the bima (stage) and decreasing in price as distance from it increased. He also had a minor problem with a neighbor who walked to synagogue on the Sabbath in strict observance of the prohibition not to drive, but who was less than ethical the other 6 days of the week in business.
I grew up pursuing my own spiritual journey. I explored, intellectually, several religions while ultimately gravitating back toward mild Jewish observance as a single woman in my early thirties. When I married a non-Jew in my early 40’s, my husband later converted to Judaism (of his own accord) and he…then we…became Orthodox in observance. After several years his Orthodoxy waned as did mine. Today, we attend synagogue as a family on High Holy Days, mainly as continuity for our daughter’s sake.
Personally, I remain the mystic I have always been. Which brings me to this week.
It’s Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, and the 10 days of Repentance, culminating in Yom Kippur. In Torah (the Five Books of Moses) Rosh Hashanah is a “one day” holy day. Outside of Israel, it has been for centuries, a “two-day” holy day, mandated by Rabbinic law, not Torah law (there’s a lot of that in Judaism). This year I observed the first day of Rosh Hashana but not the second.
So it came to be that on the 2nd day of Rosh Hashana I was driving home from food shopping when I passed by the synagogue as it was ending morning services. As I watched the congregants walking either to their cars or walking home, I experienced a twinge of guilt for where I was as opposed to, perhaps, where I should have been. But as I continued to look at all the men and women exiting the building, I was struck by how similarly all the women were dressed and how similarly all the men were dressed. It occurred to me that so many people follow what they are taught, and what they see, without ever questioning why.
And I was reminded of how important intention is to prayer.
In Judaism, intent is called kavanah. It’s the sincerity and focused intention one brings to the effort to connect with the Divine. Without kavanah, prayer is pretty much an exercise in futility. When we proceed on a spiritual path simply, or primarily, because others before us have proceeded upon that path, without questioning why or whether it rings true within our own hearts, we are abdicating our uniqueness and the role each of us plays in reuniting the world in Oneness. It may be that a well worn path can serve us on or journey, but it may be equally true that it may not.
The true spiritual path leads inward. It is a solitary journey that requires kavanah…focused, joyful intention…no matter what path you choose. Lacking that, one defaults to the status of “imitator” who blindly follows the group up ahead, regardless of whether or not they are heading in your direction.
There are many paths to Oneness. A connection to the Divine is not the sole prerogative of any one of those paths. When the connection is made, it’s unmistakable, whether it’s your own or that of another.
The first day of Rosh Hashanah, as I sat in services, two young Orthodox men assisting with the formalities of the service were truly ecstatic in their devotion and joy. They were both inspiring and magnificent to watch. Their connection through their chosen path was undeniable. While their path is not mine, I delighted in being able to witness their experience. I have such moments myself walking in the woods listening to the Divine in Nature.
Imagine if each of us could likewise both allow and celebrate the diverse paths that are available as ways to connect with God. We’d likely be too busy being ecstatic and joyful to have much time (or desire) for judgment and separation…the two most commonly traveled paths to war.
L’Shana tova. May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a year of health, prosperity and peace.
> As I frequently mention, I don’t watch much television. However, I used to be in the habit of surfing the Sunday morning news shows between 9 A.M. and noon to get a summary of what happened during the week. I stopped doing that about a year ago when it was just too boring (and painful!) to listen to the same things over and over each week and on each station. Nothing really changed. It was the war in Iraq…pro and con on why we were there and how to get out…the economy…and the 2008 Presidential election.
Yesterday, I decided to sit down, take a look and listen, and see what was going on. Surprise! Nothing has changed. Literally. All the shows were covering the same three stories! I had been elsewhere for a year and missed nothing. (Which tells me a lot about 1) the media and 2) how we squander precious time tracking nothing).
Then, near the end of “This Week” with George Stephanopolous on ABC, there was a surprising two-minute segment with Alan Alda.
It seems Mr. Alda had a near death experience that refocused his priorities on what really matters, which is the present. Literally, the instance of “now.” He made the point that 2000 years ago the Roman Emperor and prolific writer Marcus Aurelius had written of the importance of living in the moment. Tomorrow is a dream, yesterday a memory. All we really have, and where our personal power and joy resides, is in the moment. In being aware and present enough to fully experience and fully engage others…each and every second as those seconds are occurring.
This is not “news.” From Marcus Aurelius 2000 years ago to the contemporary philosopher Eckert Toll, untold numbers of individuals, philosophers and spiritualists have been trying to wake us up to the fact that living in the “now” is all there is.
What is news is that “This Week” decided to put on a two-minute piece about it. It presented a stunning contrast and vital lesson.
Time is the commodity we most prize. I spent the last year not watching the morning news and missed nothing. If you spent the last year watching what I did not (52 weeks at 3 hours per week = 156 hours) you spent 3.9 weeks of your year..not to mention your life…staring at a picture that essentially never changed. You stared at nothing for almost 4 weeks of your life! If you do the math, and that’s all the television you ever watched (I doubt it) and lived, say, 40 more years, you’d spend 156 weeks of your life staring at something that never changes.
Clearly, I have carried this to the extreme to make my point.
The news we get is a diversion from reality. Reality is NOW. More importantly, reality is your own personal experience, not someone else’s experience or their interpretation of it. Spending precious life moments on meaningless babble by others who know nothing of your life or your life’s unique path is sorrowful.
What a waste of the gift of existence you’ve been given.
Alan Alda, in the fraction of time he was given, made the point that an exchange between he and one of his grandchildren that suddenly births something neither had anticipated is all that really matters. The rest is folly.
I was both saddened and heartened by the two-minute story on Mr. Alda. Saddened that it was only two minutes when the messages is 2000 years (or more!) old and still not learned by humankind. But heartened because of something my 14-year-old daughter likes to say.
Whenever she gets something she wants, but does not get all of that thing that she wants, she lifts her spirits by saying, “Well, a little is better than none at all.”
Two minutes on national television for the single most important message of our time is not nearly enough.
But it’s better than none at all.
> Luciano Pavarotti, the gifted tenor, died yesterday. Seven years ago today my Father died. I am thinking about how we honor those who impact our lives when they are no longer with us in body. It may seem a little strange, but I learned how to do that from a dog I once loved. His name was Link.
Link had a sense of humor (really!) and a seemingly boundless zest for life. He liked to do silly things that made me laugh out loud. When he was about 4 years old I was going through a tough time in my life. We went out for a walk one day and, lost in my own sadness, I turned my attention from watching him to feeling sorry for myself. In that instant, he bounded across the street, was hit by a speeding car and died in my lap on the way to the vet. I was devastated.
In order to bring meaning to it all, I realized that Link had been an example of living each moment full of joy and heightened energy. Unable to teach me that in life, I learned it from him in death.
The way to honor is by taking the best of what someone has brought to the world and live it.
My Father was a strong-willed, self-made entrepreneur who was usually only available for family in a crisis. But he had a heart “as big as Texas” and a charitable nature that was remarkable. No matter how he came to know about a story of suffering or lack, he set about to try and do something to alleviate it. All the dictionaries in our home had the word “can’t” crossed out. My Father said there was no such word as “can’t” if you really wanted to do something. When he passed away, I spoke about his charitable nature as a way for his spirit to live on.
I didn’t know Luciano Pavarotti…other than what I’ve read about him. But it seems to me he found the creative gift that made him the unique individual he was and embraced it, and life, with passion. It’s a wonderful teaching.
All of the things that happen to us in our lives have no independent meaning other than what we attribute to them.
I could have spent my life regretting that day I turned my eyes from watching Link and remained bitter for the times my Father was unavailable. Instead, I carry a permanent smile in my heart for Link’s joyful zest for life and try and emulate my Father’s will to uplift and prevail no matter what.
As for Pavarotti, he will always be for me a guiding light for embracing my unique creative gift. I am a writer.
Like all writers periodically do, I had recently been questioning and doubting my talent and whether or not it’s all “worth it.” My gratitude to Pavarotti for reminding me how to honor a life and bring meaning to it. I have once again embraced my love of writing.
Today, this blog was written solely because of the meaning Luciano Pavarotti’s life has brought to mine.