Thursday, June 4, 2009

The suddenness of an ending

I am startled, maybe even shook by the death of David Carradine. I am at the tale end of that generation who grew up with the image of the lanky man on TV portraying a monk from the East walking through the Old West.

Actor David Carradine found dead in Bangkok

But this is not about any scripted episode of a TV show or a scene from a movie and I'm just a fan. Can't claim to know what the man himself was like. No idea what angels or devils were perched on his shoulders. So I can't say anything that relates specifically to him. Maybe in the time ahead there will be a clearer picture. [UPDATE: New reports indicate Carradine's death may have been accidental. Rather than take down or alter the focus of the post, I am going to leave the rest in place. It is terribly unfortunate that this has happened, accident or not.]

The news today brings me back to another recent loss from the entertainment industry.

Making Sense of the Lucy Gordon Tragedy

The families will wrestle with a kind of loss that you can't really answer even with notes left behind.

Some might say "Just 'cowboy up' when life knocks you down." But first, the person has to admit to themselves that something is not right. You can't fix anything unless you take that serious look and say "Houston, we have a problem."

Everyone has reasons to get angry, sad, outraged. I don't think there is a person on the planet who has not been put off or been wronged in some fashion.

Likewise... any of us can be the source of another person's animosity.

I admit I've fought with depression and sought counseling, lots of people have. I can also say have said and done some selfish, crappy things towards other people. Confronting such issues makes the difference.

There is a saying, not my own, a philosophy really: "I am who I am through those around me." That's a paraphrase of the Ubuntu philosophy. The notion is that we are enriched by the well-being of those around us and we share in the hurt when they are downtrodden.

I'd like to tweak that saying just a bit: "I am who I am through the people around me...or lack thereof."

My point is that you cannot forget about the people you don't see. I'm not saying you have to run around hugging everyone or make peace with someone out to do you harm. But rather, think about people you have lost touch with or otherwise dismissed. You may have strong reasons for it or simply time and distance took over. Then again, consider what your day will be like without ever hearing from or seeing that person. Consider what it will be like to have them gone forever.

You can't make the decision for other people to keep fighting for themselves when life gets them down. They have to do their own heavy lifting. But, you can remind them why they are important to have around and part of your day.

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Flame and Bone

When I was made from fire
Poured into the tender vessel of caution
That keeps my smoke from rising
Quickly did I discover that apart from crisp drizzles or falling snow
The world chilled my touched
Walking the narrow cornered gap between girders and cut stone
One learns to tuck his shoulders in or risk
Jostling a neighbor passing by rapt with want
For a clear path without the distraction
Of another man's boiling eyes
The tip of a finger
That oldest of all weapons
Grown deadlier and pristine in its invention
Gathers a mote of a cinder on its bare flesh
And turns pondering how best to scratch the impious itch
Prying open the tender seam
Where the oil of thought dews
Offering a new wick to ignite
Squirming alive as a salamander of mischief
That yearns for a taste of air it is so ready to devour
The steam of breath betrays me
Before the glint of orange spreads
In popping bright waves
Eroding the fibers feeding it
Leaving naught but ash
As my shell of quietude falls away