Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Wish Lists and a Life to Love

David Myers wrote, "We excel at making a living but often fail at making a life. We celebrate our prosperity but yearn for purpose. We cherish our freedoms but long for connection. In an age of plenty, we feel spiritual hunger." He wrote those words during a time of economic prosperity, long before the economic peril we are experiencing now. Today, far fewer of us celebrate the prosperity he was referring to while still longing for connection and purpose.

Today I am haunted by the memory of a woman I saw in the grocery store last night. She looked tired to me, tired and unspeakably sad. She was turning over the hams, one after another, and she seemed to be noting the price of each one. Eventually she moved away from them, her shopping cart still empty. I am thinking right now of the far too many people who I picture wandering around the stores this holiday season, surrounded by plenty and taunted by all that they can't have, can't give...

Today far more of us worry about how we will make a living in order to support ourselves and those we love, when now more then ever it seems we need to consider how we might make lives we can more readily love...

Craig and Marc Kielburger, brothers and authors of "Me to We: Finding Meaning in a Material World" observe, "In the struggle to meet deadlines, impress clients, and advance through the ranks, it's easy to become so focused on accomplishing specific tasks that we lose sight of how our actions impact our personal well-being, not to mention that of those around us. Many of us fall into a trap and work long hourrs because of a sense of responsibility to others, not being able to say no at work, or trying to provide 'only the best' for our family. We make these choices with good intentions, but in the end they are not the best for our family, or ourselves. We get sucked into a way of life that does not fulfill us."

Our Christmas wish list's are all too often filled with material goods that might stroke our egos or fill our time, but do very little to fulfill our souls. Now, more then ever, it's time to ask new questions and create new lists.

Places to Visit:

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Life, Lessons, Death and Love

My mother is tiny, fragile, and bald. From the moment I learned that she had lung cancer, it seems that the volume on my life has been turned up. It is a strange thing to feel with such immediacy the beat of a fierce and imperfect love in your heart along with the tight cold specter of death in your chest. The simplest things seem poignant and almost sacred - a gathering of birds, the soft, vulnerable, hairless top of an infant's head, the memory of my mother's hand reaching out for my own, an old song on the radio...

When the tiniest cracks make our most well protected surfaces vulnerable, the depth and mass of what begins to filter in can all too often threaten to overflow and perhaps even break out, break through, break us open....

Author and cancer survivor, Michael Dowd, asks readers of his blog, "Can we tell our own personal stories in a mythic sense, with a flourish? Can we find a way, in hindsight, to evoke gratitude even for the disasters in our lives?"

When I am enmeshed in the details of this particular chapter of my cstory, I am acutely and profoundly aware of the pain and the peril presently flowing through it. And yet, when I breathe deep, step back, and widen my lens, I am able to witness and absorb the beauty and the possibility (even now) that lives within it.

We learn from every single experience of our lives and each time I look back over the landscape of my own life - over my own mythic story - I am reminded again and again of how much I have learned of purpose and meaning, resiliency and strength, and of love and light from sharing and daring the dark...

Monday, December 6, 2010

Andrew Solomon on his book, "The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression"

Despite the poor quality of the introduction, this lecture by Andrew Solomon, author of , "The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression," (based on his own struggle with major depression) is well worth the time it takes to listen.

Following is a quote from Solomon's book:

"Listen to the people who love you. Believe that they are worth living for even when you don't believe it. Seek out the memories depression takes away and project them into the future. Be brave; be strong; take your pills. Exercise because it's good for you even if every step weighs a thousand pounds. Eat when food itself disgusts you. Reason with yourself when you have lost your reason."

On the PBS special, "Depression: Out of the Shadows" Solomon observes,

"I always say that the opposite of depression is not happiness but vitality, and that depression has to do with finding all of life totally overwhelming...

...clinical depression really has to do with the feeling that you can't do anything, that everything is unbelievably difficult, that life is completely terrifying, and a feeling of this free-floating despair, which is overpowering and horrifying...

...So that's the real message of hope, is that you can get better. And when you do get better, not that you'll look back on it with great longing, but you may look back on it and think, 'I learned a lot by going through that. And I'm a better person because I did it.'"