Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"John, leave it alone."

It's not easy letting things go: grudges, heartache, blame, denial, pain, mistakes, failure, insecurities, hate, disappointment, fear, shame, anger, pride, envy . . . the list is endless. We hold onto such things as though it were the driving force of life. We wrap ourselves up in them and find ourselves unwilling to lay aside our burden.

I've hung on to my self-justification for why I stayed mad, for why I couldn't reach my goals, for why I would not put down the burden. This is my personal revelation that the counsel "leave it alone" or "let it go" is often the most difficult to accept or execute, but it really is the only means to find inner peace and acceptance.

It brings to mind the story of a young man who found love, family and a new beginning. When tragedy knocked on his door with the loss of his wife, a new baby girl and a life now as a young, single father he directed his pain and anger toward the doctor who had failed to keep his wife alive. His grief festered and anger began to seep into every crack and crevice of his life.

One night a family friend called on this grieving, heartbroken young father. The words of comfort and counsel from the family friend was this: "John, leave it alone. Nothing you do about it will bring her back. Anything you do will make it worse. John, leave it alone."

The young father struggled with himself. He then decided that whatever else life brought to him, he would heed the counsel he was given.

Now, well into his years, the once heartbroken, young father related this story to a friend. "I was an old man, before I understood it!...I could finally see a poor country doctor--overworked, underpaid run ragged from patient to patient with little medicine, no hospital, few instruments, struggling to save lives, and succeeding for the most part. He had come in a moment of crisis, when two lives hung in the balance, and had acted without delay."

"I was an old man," he repeated, "before I finally understood! I would have ruined my life," he said, "and the lives of others."

Being able to leave it alone, or let it go takes practice and a lot of patience; two attributes that I often lack and need plenty of. But I recognize that it's a process of developing a whole new mindset...getting a better look at the whole picture instead of just snapshots. It can sometimes be a long, hard road before we reach that moment. Experience has shown me how my life becomes entangled when I refuse to leave it alone or let it go and I have felt the calmness in my life when I've chosen to follow John's example.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A Witness and a Warning

Nothing good every comes from being awoken from a sound sleep at 3 o'clock in the morning. And the phrase "I have some bad news" or "a tsunami is coming" really puts a strong emphasis on that point. I missed taking early morning shots of everyone milling around up at Makakilo park at 5 in the morning, mostly because I was still so tired and was nearing the ever allusive REM sleep when a knock on my door woke me.

We had set up our little band of tsunami-ites near the bus stop area. Traffic was starting to build as more and more people made their way from the lower shoreline and up the hill. Sitting on blankets that were spread out on the cold grass, I tried to grab a few minutes of sleep. But something about sleeping on the cold, hard ground just wasn't working for me. I remember thinking as I looked out at the homes across the street from the park, "Man are those people going to be surprised when they look out their doors and windows to see all of us sleeping at the park!"

As the early hours weened on, I surveyed my fellow evacuee's; the thought of "displaced refugees" came to mind. It was a cold, silent morning as rows of colored blankets and pillows covered the ground beneath the swings and overflowed onto the playground. You almost didn't notice that there were several families already there because it was so quiet. It made me wonder, if the tsunami does hit, then how long? How long would be here? Days? Weeks? Would they relocate us to a shelter? I tried to calm my mind, keep my thoughts from frantically running away. I kept an eye on the slow rising sun and wondered how the morning would unfold. Breakfast was fast approaching.

As morning gained a foothold on the day, I watched a few more trucks and vans pull up on the grassy area and set up tents and grills. We would all be here for the duration . . . however long that would be. The radio station kept us updated on the tsunami. They had estimated the tsunami's arrival around 11:30 am, it would hit Hilo first and then Oahu. As it neared the arrival time, we all headed up to the back of the park that had an unobstructed view of the ocean.
When the hour arrived and then past, I breathed a sigh of relief. But I still couldn't shake the feeling that this was a warning of "things yet to come". I'm sure there are those who probably saw this whole evacuation event as a waste of time and money, but it's no longer a matter of "if" but "when". It behooves us all to have our house in order, to be prepared. I don't mind telling you that the ordeal has put me in a different frame of mind. I'm not sure what frame of mind that is, but it's not the "let's wait and see".

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Best Kind of Friends . . .

are the ones you didn't realize would become the "best kind of friends." It often surprises me that I know such really great people. For example, I have a great group of friends that I've know since the fourth grade. Granted, and we would all agree, that in the fourth grade we had a different opinion on friendship - and quite possibly on each other. But now, life . . . and our experiences have brought us closer to each other than any of us would have imagined.

 And sometimes, the hardest friends to find, make, and even keep is -- family. With family, we tend to shine the light more glaringly on faults and weaknesses; not to mention the easy access we have to those "emotional buttons" that we are quick to push again and again, and then just because we can -- we push it again. But when the stars align, and all is right with the universe, our greatest asset and our greatest champions and friends will be family.  And sometimes, we count friends as family.

But not all friendships are long-lasting. We find friends in the most unlikely of places and through the most unlikely individuals. They became momentary friends, because they were a friend of a friend. It's the mixture and unusual concoction that created the lasting memories of smiles, laughter and even disbelief that "I know those people" or "I use to hang out there." Look at the smiles on those faces . . . it's true; it's genuine.  No matter the circumstance, or the duration of the time, the outcome was that we've become the best kind of friends.  I must be living under a blessed star!