Monday, July 26, 2010

Attention Must Be Paid

Unemployment throughout the country - including my own year long trek - and the failing economy leaves so many feeling as though they live on a cliff. Its easy to wake up some mornings and want to jump. For some, it seems to no longer matter whether they made wise investments, ate the right food, or chose the right career. Life seems to have ripped off many people, or so we think. And maybe there is no easy answer for all.

In this past near year and one half, I've lost a major income, had a nearly fatal car accident, health issues, and lost a significant family member. No, I'm not trying to elicit sympathy. I am a very fortunate human being. For every traumatic event, I have been blessed with the gift of friendship, love, and growth. I have no real complaints.

I try to post information of interest to whomever reads my blog. I make jewelry, cook, have a bizarre sense of humor and so I try to post along those lines. And I try to keep my personal politics away from the blog. Basically, its just an opinion. And religion. Also, just an opinion. But now and then I have a strong statement to make that I feel compelled to share.

This week, in my circle of extended family, there was a passing of a child. I can't think of one thing that could be said to these parents to console them. Not one thing. And so I won't say anything to them other than "I am so profoundly sorry for your loss". I know them very, very well. It touches me that this has happened. And that touch is deeper than I'd have imagined.

A friend and I had a conversation about Willie Loman in Arthur Miller's Death Of A Salesman.

The play illuminates the relationship(s) in Willie Loman's life, and his seemingly unbreakable failures. What always clings to my own memories about Willie Loman is what many of us remember most, the following quote - "Attention must be paid to such a person". Such a person as a man who at the end of his life seemed a failure to so many, a non-entity, someone to ignore, etc. Someone who could pass, quietly, and not be missed.

The death of the child this week in my extended family's life brings up another sad issue. Why? What is the reason? What possible meaning is there? Religious people will have their answers. Atheists will have theirs. I think none of them matter. I think what matters is that a child has left our consciousness, here one moment and gone the next. And there is absolutely nothing to say to the parents, to the grandparents, to the siblings and aunts and uncles and cousins and neighbors and friends. This is, in my mind, the ultimate and most devastating of all losses. So I am saying that "Attention must be paid to such a person" - to all people. Perhaps in the current climate of the troubled economy we have our wires crossed, our priorities out of order. Maybe we need to take a step back, re-think what we are doing and why we do it.

We are in the midst of crises. The country, the world - everything seems to have changed. What do we do? How do we cope? Is this the measure of who we are, the things we own, the titles we hold, the houses we live in? I think not, or it shouldn't be. We shouldn't be measured by our accumulations. We should be measured, and measure others, by whom we love, how we love, how we treat our families, friends and communities. This is who we should be. We should be compassionate souls. Not financial failures.

Every time someone we know is touched by loss this profound, it triggers our own experience and the repressed feelings that are hidden in our hearts return like new born fire eating dragons. We are all told to strive to put the feelings into place, to adjust, to move forward through the grief. "I know how you feel". Do we? I don't. I've lost parents, a husband, a brother, and more....and I don't have a clue as to how they feel. Not one single clue. I only know this: "Attention must be paid....".

Each birth and death should be shouted from our centers. Each human should be celebrated regardless of age, position in life, or accomplishments as they are born, while they live their lives, and as they leave us. We would not be who we are without having known them, no matter who they are. Once the shouting of recognition is done, then a moment of silence, and their names should be spoken often encouraging their memories and essences to stay with us. While we touch each other on our various paths, the idea that we have ownership or control is an illusion. The only control is in the moment and maybe not even then. While I don't personally believe in winged angels that are visible, I do believe in the presence of grace. I've felt it. I've felt angels coming and going and am always struck down to my knees with gratitude for knowing every single one of them. When it is my time, I want my friends to be sad that I have left, to tell silly stories about me, to be grateful I was here for however long that might be, and to feel the essence of my spirit as it climbs, or whatever it is going to do.

To the dear, sweet child who left us this week, I send you love on your journey. I send your family love and the hope that they can function, that they can love again, that they can find some way of breathing.

Everyone we know throughout our lives deserves to be shouted about whether coming or going. In my opinion, not much else really matters if we can't do that.
Writing this post is my way of shouting the spirit of a child, without betraying the privacy of her family. I encourage you to hug the people you love and be grateful for them. That's what I'm going to do.