I read this comic strip the same evening after attending a side street alley gathering to remember a life lost to a suicide.
Although I only vaguely recollect a chance encounter, the alley was full of people whose lives were touched in one way or another. It was poignant: a poem, both melancholic and hopeful, read by a friend; a minute of silence, punctuated by drops of rain reflecting dimmed lights.
I sat, in respectful silence and retrospective wonder. How often are our lives touched by people who seem to radiate nothing but kindness and selflessness only to find out later about their lost or losing battles with demons of loneliness? How often are we shocked by the falseness of our assumptions that people like that MUST have been surrounded by the same love, wisdom and kindness that they project on their world?
The two events are not linked in any form. I know nothing of the life and struggles of the young man who did not want to struggle anymore. I know little of addictions to substances other than endorphins created by my own body. I do not intend to make any assumptions. But they both made me think.
Choices. Some are simple and obvious to make: to do or not to do. To say or not to say, to believe or not to believe. Others, despite being a lot more important, are significantly harder to recognise. The conscious choice as to which river to swim in. Entering either is easy: the initial effort of moving your mass off the shore is probably the same. Yet as you float away, your most obvious path is dictated by the direction of the current. Of course, there are still numerous ways of heading another way, but that is a topic for another post.
Beliefs. Seeing and believing your world as your playground (park) or as your cage. Beliefs are shaped by own previous experiences, opinions of those we hold in esteem, books and gospels of reference.
And the two are forever intertwined, for whatever path you choose to take will shape your experiences which will in turn shape your beliefs which will then choose which river to enter.
And so my tonight’s musings led me to this message by Brene Brown, a “storyteller researcher”. Six years of research and hundreds of stories led her to summarise what differentiates those that live wholeheartedly, with a strong sense of love and belonging and those that struggle for it:
- Courage to be imperfect.
- Compassion. To be kind to yourself first before being kind to others. Because as it turns out we can’t practice compassion to others if we can’t treat ourselves kindly.
- Connection. Authentically, as a result of letting go of what you think you should be in order to be who you are.
But most importantly, it all leads to her most important message that has the chance of changing our rivers, and consequently our lives for the better: