Friday, April 11, 2008

It's Life Or Death

Dear Friends and Loved Ones,

At first, today, I was driven on blogging about "love letter" in the spirit of NaBloPoMo, and in having some fun talking about the love letters that I have received in my life (which there weren't many), and then asking you all to share your favorite or most meaningful love letter(s) with me.

However, I procrastinated (or actually was busy), so I waited until later to put my thoughts up for your perusal. It's uncanny that I did, as more things were brought to my attention today, things I was moved to share that might still merit love letters, or have a lot to do with love, as well as life, and death. These thoughts preoccupy us all at some point in our lives, thoughts about what we will do when we lose a love or loved one because of life changes, or lose someone because of death (even our pets, our very special loved ones).

I have to pose a question, "Do you really ever lose someone?"

My answer is "No.", yours might be different, and we can all respect that. I feel as though even if you lose someone in life, they move on or you are separated because of differences, you will always carry a piece of them in your soul, because you shared experiences for reasons (reasons you might or might not know right now), and that it all changed because it had to, it was time... It's all a part of the bigger picture. Not always just about you, and how you feel. Sure it might hurt, but the gift(s) that you received from being part of each others' lives will forever live on within each of you... and yes, there are good things from even the worst of relationships.

As well, even if you feel you've lost someone forever due to death, only their earthly body has been lost... They live in your hearts, or are connected to you in such a way that they will always be with you... You always need to be open-hearted, and open minded and believe the best in these matters, as they are all part of something much bigger, maybe we can't understand it right now, but I honestly hope that each and every one of you who reads this have already experienced something that lets you know this is true, or that you will one day be shown when you are ready.

No matter what you believe right now, the plain and simple truth is in matters of life and death, and our purpose while we are here, or "the meaning of life" I guess you could say, is all relative to how we each individually look at things. You can choose to be closed off to every day miracles, and think that everything in life is negative and "sucks", or you can find the hope in the darkest of moments, and maybe even by passing some hope and comfort along to the next person, be a beacon in your own right. The gifts you might receive in return for your encouragement or giving will way outshine keeping happiness to yourself. I feel that giving love, and receiving love are the same thing, and that you get back what you put out there...

But believe me, I'm no stranger to the difficulties in doing this. It's a struggle for me every day too. Some days it seems like the world is out to get you, and you would just as soon spit on your fellow man as to smile at them when they have acted ugly to you... Still, you don't know their circumstances, what they might be going through too... Maybe all they needed was your smile. I'm a work in progress, we all are... Sometimes it's easy to give up, but it's so worth it to try just that much harder.

Happiness in this life it really is a CHOICE.

All Is Vanity
"It's All In How You Look At Things"

You see, this is a love letter... a love letter to us all, ourselves. "Love Yourself"... Once you learn to love yourself, everything else will fall in place. No, it's not easy, it's damn hard... but what isn't damn hard?

I would like to share this excerpt with you, and I hope that it sheds a little light your way... If not, well there's nothing I can do about it. I put it out there, I just hope the best for everyone reading it... And if I haven't done it in a while, I want you all to know that you are loved, if not by someone else, by someone you might not even realize, by yourself... even by me.

Love, Jackie

That being said, the question of the day is...

What Is The Meaning of Life?

"Are there any questions?" An offer that comes at the end of college lectures and long meetings. Said when an audience is not only overdosed with information, but when there is no time left anyhow. At times like that you sure do have questions. Like, "Can we leave now?" and "What the hell was this meeting for?" and "Where can I get a drink?"

The gesture is supposed to indicate openness on the part of the speaker, I suppose, but if in fact you do ask a question, both the speaker and the audience will give you drop-dead looks. And some fool-some earnest idiot always asks. And the speaker always answers. By repeating most of what he has already said.

But if there is a little time left and there is a little silence in response to the invitation, I usually ask the most important question of all:

"What is the Meaning of Life?"

You never know, somebody may have the answer, and I'd really hate to miss it because I was too socially inhibited to ask. But when I ask, it's usually taken as a kind of absurdest move--people laugh and nod and gather up their stuff and the meeting is dismissed on that ridiculous note.

Once and only once, I asked that question and got a serious answer. One that is with me still.

First, I must tell you where this happened, because the place has a power of its own. In Greece again. Near the village of Gonia on a rocky bay of the island of Crete sits a Greek Orthodox monastery. Alongside it, on land donated by the monastery, is an institute dedicated to human understanding and peace, and especially to rapprochement between Germans and Cretans. An improbable task, given the bitter residue of wartime.

This side is important, because it overlooks the small airstrip at Maleme where Nazi paratroopers invaded Crete and were attacked by peasants wielding kitchen knives and hay scythes. The retribution was terrible. The populations of whole villages were lined up and shot for assaulting Hitler's finest troops. High above the institute is a cemetery with a single cross marking the mass grave of Cretan partisans. And across the bay on yet another hill is the regimented burial ground of the Nazi paratroopers. The memorials are so placed that all might see and never forget. Hate was the only weapon the Cretans had at the end, and it was a weapon many vowed never to give up. Never ever.

Against this heavy curtain of history, in this place where the stone of hatred is hard and thick, the existence of an institute devoted to healing the wounds of war is a fragile paradox. How has it come to be here? The answer is a man. Alexander Papaderos.

A doctor of philosophy, teacher, politician, resident of Athens but a son of this soil. At war's end he came to believe that the Germans and the Cretans had much to give one another--much to learn from one another. That they had an example to set. For if they could forgive each other and construct a creative relationship, then any people could.

To make a lovely story short, Papaderos succeeded. The institute became a reality--a conference ground on the site of horror--and it was in fact a source of productive interactions between the two countries. Books have been written on the dreams that were realized by what people gave to people for a summer session. Alexander Papaderos had become a living legend. One look at him and you saw his strength and intensity--energy, physical power, courage, intelligence, passion and vivacity radiated from this person. And to speak to him, to shake his hand, to be in a room with him when he spoke, was to experience his extraordinary electric humanity. Few men live up to their reputations when you get close.

Alexander Papaderos was an exception. At the last session on the last morning of a two-week seminar on Greek culture, led by intellectuals and experts in their fields who were recruited by Papaderos from across Greece, Papaderos rose from his chair at the back of the room and walked to the front, where he stood in the bright Greek sunlight of an open window and looked out. We followed his gaze across the bay to the iron cross marking the German cemetery.

He turned. And made the ritual gesture: "Are there any questions?"

Quiet quilted the room. These two weeks had generated enough questions for a lifetime, but for now there was only silence. "No questions?" Papaderos swept the room with his eyes. So I asked. "Dr. Papaderos, what is the Meaning of Life?"

The usual laughter followed and people stirred to go. Papaderos held up his hand and stilled the room and looked at me for a long time, asking with his eyes if I was serious and seeing from my eyes that I was.

"I will answer your question."

Taking his wallet out of his hip pocket, he fished into a leather billfold and brought out a very small round mirror, about the size of a quarter. And what he said went like this:

"When I was a small child, during the war, we were very poor and we lived in a remote village. One day, on the road, I found the broken pieces of a mirror. A German motorcycle had been wrecked in that place.

"I tried to find all the pieces and put them together, but it was not possible, so I kept only the largest piece. This one. And by scratching it on a stone I made it round. I began to play with it as a toy and became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light into dark places where the sun would never shine--in deep holes and crevices and dark closets. It became a game for me to get light into the most inaccessible places I could find.

"I kept the little mirror, and as I went about my growing up, I would take it out in idle moments and continue the challenge of the game. As I became a man, I grew to understand that this was not just a child's game but a metaphor for what I might do with my life. I came to understand that I am not the light or the source of the light. But light: truth, understanding, knowledge-is there, and it will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it.

"I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know. Nevertheless, with what I have I can reflect light into the dark places of this world--into the black places in the hearts of men--and change some things in some people. Perhaps others may see and do likewise. This is what I am about. This is the meaning of my life."

And then he took his small mirror and, holding it carefully, caught the bright rays of daylight streaming through the window and reflected them onto my face and onto my hands folded on the desk.

Much of what I experienced in the way of information about Greek culture and history that summer is gone from memory. But in the wallet of my mind I carry a small round mirror still.

Are there any questions?

Taken from, It Was On Fire When I Laid Down On It. By Robert Fulghum

If you got to the bottom and read the whole thing, thank you... if not, please do so when you have time... and I hope you have a wonderful and enlightened weekend.


Jay said...

I agree that you don't ever really lose someone. They're always there with you in your thoughts and eventually you paths will cross again in another life.

Further on up the road said...

You are a product of every experience you have had... good or bad.

And you are so right happiness is purely a self induced state of mind. I learnt a lot about choice in rehab - maybe I should post on this topic... I blamed a load of people for my faults but actually never stopped to think that if someone pisses me off I can make a choice on how I react to that, even if only externally. Hmmm....

Great post got me thinking