Days of resting eights

turn_it_on_its_sideMy son has a book called Infinity and Me (by Kate Hosford). In the story, eight-year-old Uma seeks the meaning of things as she looks at the stars and feels small and cold within the vastness of the universe. She knows “infinity” has something to do with it, but she doesn’t quite get it so she goes on a quest. She asks her friends, her teachers and the school cook. They all offer fascinating takes on the concept. It isn’t until Uma recognizes the boundless love she has for her grandmother that she finds her own way of experiencing infinity and the universe.

The most charmingly human part of the story is Uma’s struggle with uncertainty. She doesn’t grasp what infinity is, but she wants to. She feels insignificant until she can. Her head hurts with all the questions and thoughts she’s having as she works so hard to understand and find meaning. It isn’t until she opens her heart and feels her grandmother’s unconditional love, and realizes she feels the same, that the endless stars in the sky begin to feel warm with effortless wonder.

Like Uma, I find myself looking at the universe differently day to day. Some days the stars are shrouded in suspicion and the lonely oxygen-less air of outer space. These are the days where the uncertainty of life and humankind become manifest in the questionable future of projects, unreturned emails, frustrations about not knowing whether my son will be in the morning or afternoon kindergarten class until three days before he starts, not to mention general bewilderment about world events.

Thank ever-loving goodness there are the other kind of days too—when infinity becomes the peaceful “resting eight,” perfect for ice skating and endless bike rides. On those days I see the stars in the heavens are filled with mystery and discovery, and the demands of the mind become the curiosity of the heart. On those days, projects with uncertain futures become new tree-lined paths to wander down and societal frustration becomes an opportunity to offer compassion. The love my son and I share becomes more important than whether he’ll be in the kindergarten class that best complements my schedule, and that fills me with infinite warmth.

In this eight month, I wish you many days of resting eights, when you know the path of the universe will come back around to meet you where you are and show you where you can go. May the infinite possibilities fill you with joy and gratitude. May the vastness of the stars always cover you in a blanket of love and effortless wonder.

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Robin Williams: the ripples will go on

Robin Williams in What Dreams May ComeLike so many around the world, I was saddened by the sudden loss of Robin Williams yesterday. His presence in my life as an entertainer, magnetic personality and model of creative openness—albeit from an admirer’s distance—is undeniable. His characters and films that were most formative for me were his dramatic roles: The World According to Garp, What Dreams May Come, Being HumanGood Morning Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, Patch Adams, Good Will Hunting and even The Birdcage.

I always felt what he offered us onlookers transcended the bounds of “actor and comedian,” and the enormous reaction to his death confirms it wasn’t just me. He was a compassionate, connected, supremely human being whose desire to bring joy and comfort hid to many his own sadness. His influence as an artist, but also as a loving soul, will continue to ripple for a long time, both on this earth and beyond.

Many are wondering how someone who could bring both peels of uncontrollable laughter and tears of genuine compassion to multiple generations could feel so alone in this world. None of us can understand anyone else’s journey. We can empathize, love and appreciate him. We can be grateful for what he offered during his precious 63 years. But we can’t know the unique and long journey that brought him to the moment where he decided releasing himself from the anguish of his mind and his body was his best option. But I’m glad that as a society we’re starting to ask the questions.

With all the dear souls like Robin suffering and leaving this earth right now—and there are many—I have to believe that through their pain and sacrifice they are contributing to a larger healing and evolution. He was a great spirit dealing with a human condition that is both astonishingly prevalent and astonishingly misunderstood. The shock of his death by the means it occurred will bring our awareness to those suffering within and without our own spheres—an understanding perhaps unattainable by other means.

The ripples don’t stop there. The soul we knew as Robin Williams is only just starting. He had no idea the positive effect he had on the world while he was here, but he does now and he’s having a fantastic time. Look at all he can do from where he is? Quantum joy. Astral silliness. Compassionate hilarity. We need cosmic comics right now more than ever. We need help maintaining perspective and lightness. As a species, we so desperately need to be reminded our lives are, above all, an opportunity to play and learn and give of ourselves fully. And who better to offer a celestial master class in that?

Thank you, Robin, for all you so generously gave us while you were here. I wish you were able to stay a bit longer, but I look forward to what you’re going to offer next.

Help

stepping_stones_of_memory_by_nwwes-d3krg59I have lots of help. I am surrounded by a community of family and friends who, despite not always understanding my choices, support and trust me. I also benefit from the broader “help” available to me, a community larger than those who appear as flesh and blood in this life and on this earth. I am continuously humbled by the support I receive from both when my intentions and actions match a greater purpose.

As I’ve discussed in earlier blogs, I’ve written another book in an attempt to reach a broader audience. While the process hasn’t been without obstacles — that’s where the lessons are learned, after all — the validation; the offers of help, resources and creative support; the loving and wise feedback; the number of folks who “get” what I’m trying to do here… It’s overwhelming. And the process has only just begun.

I’m writing this partly so I have it to refer to on those days when I doubt my purpose or why I’m making myself, my secrets and my family so vulnerable. Or when I wonder why my book merits the attention of anyone outside my doting and biased inner circle. I will need to be reminded that reaching people, touching people, lighting a path, holding up a mirror and allowing them to see themselves in my story is a major part of my soul’s purpose in this lifetime. I will need to remember all the assistance I enjoy and that they wouldn’t be with me unless there was a grander design behind it all.

I have a lot to be grateful for. But today I am grateful for this phase of the journey and those walking beside me, holding my hand, whispering in my ear lovingly when the doubts and fears arise, helping me see the next stable stone across the rushing river, and cheering when I successfully jump onto it.

In the truest sense, I wouldn’t be able to do it without you. Thank you.