In the last few months, I’ve been connected to several people suffering grief and loss; people I love who have lost people they love, suddenly, or gradually. In the last two months I have known of six people who are no longer here; six irreplaceable people who have left gaping holes in the lives of their nearest and dearest.
Two of those people took their lives. I know of two other people in my lifetime who have done the same. Those people are more than statistics, and I have no business commenting on their circumstances which I know very little about, but I cannot help but be affected their passing.
It’s got me thinking a lot more about death, and on the flip-side, about life.
It’s got me thinking about how fleeting our time here is, how precious it truly is, and wondering why the hell we don’t take the time to realize that a little more.
It’s also got me thinking about why we aren’t doing absolutely everything in our power to be the most happy and fulfilled people we can be while we are still here and why we are not taking radical action towards that happiness when the reality of life here on Earth is that it is short and uncertain.
I truly believe that sometimes radical action is required to re-set our lives on a path of contentment and fulfillment, and that we should be supporting those around us to take that action, even when it seems crazy to us. Especially when it does.
When I was in the worst time of my life a few years ago, at the height of my alcoholism, my mental and spiritual state was all but decimated, my relationship in tatters, my self-esteem non-existent, and yet, do you want to hear something crazy? Admitting I had a problem and seeking help was the most radical idea to me.
Attending recovery meetings and attempting not to drink one day at a time was the most radical action I had ever taken in my life. So radical, in fact that I deeply feared what people around me would think of that; of giving up alcohol with the help of a recovery program and attempting to live sober.
But then, I sat in meetings with other people who had a similar resistance to recovery, who eventually tried it as a last resort when the only other option was suicide or a slow painful death, and I realised there were many, many other people in the world just as crazy as me.
And when I think of the thousands who didn’t make it, and won’t make it, not just out of addiction, but through the other traumas of life (of which there are many), this makes me sad because those people are my brothers and sisters; those people are me had my circumstances not lined up the way they did.
I want to say to them, “It’s okay to struggle, because life is really hard for everyone, whether they say so or not, and you are not alone; I will listen to you and I will love you.
“It’s okay not to be okay, and it’s wonderful to cry and normal to be confused and lost, and lonely. Because I am confused and lost and lonely sometimes too, and I know how you feel.
And you may not want to hear this right now, but this is a beautiful moment in your life, the place from which you are about to climb out into the light and begin to love yourself.
It’s okay if you don’t love yourself yet, because I will love you until you do, and that love will carry you through, it will, because we are all one, and we are in this together.
And one day, you will look back on this day and smile at your old self and be grateful for this moment of darkness which served to bring you out into a world of love, laughter and light.”
That would be a pretty radical thing to say, right? In a world of achieving and striving and ‘moving forward’ and ‘sucking it up’, to connect on a level of shared suffering rather than putting on fake smiles and asking “How are you?” and answering with “Fine Thanks.”
Because the temperature I’m taking of my fellow humans at the moment is that there are plenty of us who are not “Fine Thanks.” We are hurt and we are lonely and we are confused about what’s next. And most of all, we are afraid to say so.
Because, that’s kinda radical – being honest about who we are and what we are going through and what we’ve been through.
And what might be even more radical is making a change in our life that will make us feel a little more comfortable in our own skin and make us feel a little lighter as we walk upon this earth for whatever amount of time we have left.
Maybe radical is quitting a job you hate, or spending a whole day in bed with a book. Perhaps leaving the dishes in the sink until tomorrow is bordering on insanity for you (it’s certainly not for me, just so you know).
Maybe talking to someone; a friend, a stranger or a therapist is the radical action needed to free you of some of that stuff which is weighing you down. Maybe it’s taking up tango lessons, starting a drum circle or removing yourself from a toxic relationship.
Maybe it’s getting sober, quitting your job, selling all your stuff and traveling the world; maybe it’s living in a rented one-room apartment in Mexico with mis-matched glassware, doing yoga and sharing your thoughts with whoever wants to read them (or maybe that’s just me…).
Whatever your radical action is, if it makes you feel a little more connected, a little more peaceful and a lot more free of the burdens of life, then I beg you to take it. Because the other option of a life half-lived, afraid of what people will think or say if we show that we are human, with human problems and real suffering we need to heal from, is a far less enjoyable one.
I know because I have experienced both ways, and as I have been reminded of so much lately, we just don’t know how much time we have left. We may as well live it with our whole selves.
Artwork by Tyrhone.