Danielle Caruana – Mama Kin … Soul so alive … speaking and singing the song …
brilliant-coloured birds tend their silence here, perching on stillness and heart’s ache, a hushed fear catching in their throats, poised against a hope we’ve lost sight of in life’s cruel twists…
whose song will they next sing for us, breaking out upon the night a memorial of life precious, fleeting? surely their melodies weave eternal tapestries from the light of each heart that has ached and joyed before us and will flow onward, grasping our own and those yet to come…
let us hear their silence and know all the earth aches for each one of us.
and when their songs fall again on our ears, may we be gently enclosed in the comfort of their epochs, our stories alighting on trees, interwoven with the spirits of all nature, whispering into valleys, bursting along rivers we may never see, yet filling hearts with melodies uniquely given by each of our lives…
let us hear the love and know all the earth awaits our answering songs.
but for now the womb of silence weeps. the songbirds listen,
holding sorrow’s breath…
Robin Williams ended his life. And it reverberates across the world, this collective uproar of loss realized. Images, endless scrolls and screens of Robin Williams’ memories and tributes. His face speaks something other than tragedy. His presence, as long as we had the privilege of it, upheld a priceless gift. It’s hard to reconcile that he would find it within himself to end it all, that someone who has made such a profound impact on humanity just by being funny and real, spontaneous and crazy, that he would take that away, decide it’s not worth another second.
But something in me feels defensive of him and of his legacy, that it not be diminished by his inability to continue. Why is that? He made a bold statement in his dying. On the one hand, he has every right to choose the time, the how. On the other hand, he’s commenting and saying that no matter how much acclaim you earn or how loved you are, if you’re not able to reach it within yourself, that source of love, all the acclaim in the world won’t save you, won’t keep you alive another second longer. He’s saying it’s just that tough. And it’s too precious to bear sometimes. Awareness and the artistry of unusual expressiveness comes with a price. Intensity cuts deep, sees more than any one soul can manage alone and if there’s not one who can share that awareness, the desolation pounds a deafening cry of seeming futility.
When a person takes his life, he is saying the one thing he will do is the one thing he can do…end the agony. Would that we, humanity, possessed much more skill in discerning when to stay with those who are so abandoned all they can do is leave us. Stay and break all the rules of propriety or discourse and insist on piercing the lie that another second of living is one too many.
Russell Brand said it better: “What platitudes then can we fling along with the listless, insufficient wreaths at the stillness that was once so animated and wired, the silence where the laughter was? That fame and accolades are no defence against mental illness and addiction? That we live in a world that has become so negligent of human values that our brightest lights are extinguishing themselves? That we must be more vigilant, more aware, more grateful, more mindful? That we can’t tarnish this tiny slice of awareness that we share on this sphere amidst the infinite blackness with conflict and hate?
That we must reach inward and outward to the light that is inside all of us? That all around us people are suffering behind masks less interesting than the one Robin Williams wore?”
So it is…there are those who remind us we have so much farther to reach and deeper to dig before we have become so alive, soulfully relentless that not one would dare entertain the solution of suicide.
“Our logic says that what happens to you doesn’t matter to me, what happens to the world isn’t happening to me, but our hearts disagree. This logic contradicts our felt experience…what’s happening to children in Haiti…to child soldiers in Africa…to the whales…to the forest…that’s happening to me too. That’s something we can feel, that’s why it hurts when you see that photo of the sea bird drenched in oil…”
One of the biggest challenges in personal growth is one of bridging the gap between the logical/separate self and the connected self. The idea of the self as separate is essential for certain phases of our growth and structuring of identity. It’s what makes us distinct. And yet we are also the connected self. If we let one rule before the other, we can lose much of what we would otherwise give in connection. And yet if we never allow the heart’s own mind to have a say…we wither. The world withers and bombs explode. With the connected self, we recognize that on this day in 1945, we lost on levels unfathomable. And we continue to lose when we turn a blind eye on the murdering of innocents, piling up the death count into numbers well beyond what we encountered on 9/11 as we shake our heads, parsing words and labeling certain lives as expendable.
So much we can make whole when we embrace the connected self while accepting the separateness that makes us unique. We get there by way of what Rilke beautifully describes as a ” …more human love (that will fulfill itself, infinitely considerate and gentle, and kind and clear in binding and releasing) will resemble that which we are preparing with struggle and toil, the love that consists in this, that two solitudes protect and border and salute each other.” [Letters to a Young Poet, pg 58-59]
It’s this protecting, bordering and saluting, honoring of each other as separate but precious, and connected and even as one whole expression revealing love itself (all of us, man, woman, child, animal, earth, sky, nature) which will preserve the very point of life itself. It’s that dance between unity and separateness whose only music is love’s best, a dance whose steps celebrate connection without destroying our distinctions and uniqueness.
“One cannot have doubt about that which he wishes to trust. To trust love you must be convinced of love. One cannot admit what he does not yield to. To yield to love you must be vulnerable to love. One cannot love what he does not dedicate himself to. To dedicate yourself to love you must be forever growing in love.” Leo Buscaglia
shore breaks here whisper
something about constancy.
love knows all our fears
tossing in tides of
change. we cling to sea’s uproar
’til the silence sighs
and we float ashore,
tumbling mystery and
faith in what we know.
Gonna buy me some fabric at the store by the coastal mystery, the one with no roof
and no walls ‘cept for rows and rows of fabric rolled up waiting for newness and creative wonder
and a woman whose hair is white, her hands full of keys, so many keys as she laughs at me, but not mocking.
She’s on the shoreline in the white sand at the counter and the cash register is awaiting her usual purchase. As we laugh and talk, her man is hiding amongst all those reams of fabric, spying out at me, knowing.
His dark highlights contrast against all the pale sand and call to a sea just within reach.
He trusts implicitly the woman with all those keys.
Gonna make me some bloomers from the fabric or, maybe no, I’ll do what the beautiful woman told me to do, “Order it from a catalog” ’cause…
I’ll be too busy having fun, too much going on to bother with patterns and eyelet fabric. Or sewing machines.
But fabric, I’ll abide. It hides all the best secrets and covers the future in white refusal of shame.
Gonna go find those hair bands and all the jewel-toned loose ends plaited neatly into silver sync.
And I will laugh.
And laugh. As the man behind the bolts of fabric, standing there in his safe fear-filled haven hides
and waits for the bloomers to reveal his best days: Unafraid.
One day, I’ll see his face.