Here, There and Everywhere

Archive for April, 2011

Don’t Turn Away

Every day, thousands of people die and/or are injured, tortured, starved and/or neglected. Thousands of people are also born every hour. Some are people we know personally and most are folks we’ve never met. There is only one of us here on the planet (a living organism), so whatever is happening to another is also happening to us (who we call you and me). It can feel overwhelming.

“I” suggest that instead of turning away or only focusing on the positive and the future, that we take it all in, honor the lives of those presently suffering or dead and give full voice to grieving our losses. It is by honoring and remembering the dead that we can truly be fully alive.

Here are some headlines and information from one day of stories, not including your own. If we are all one, then these stories are about our brothers, sisters, lovers, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters and friends. It’s not something to read quickly and then turn away. It’s our family.

Girl Charged with murder in death of baby.

Coroner’s Report: Santa Cruz woman was strangled, beaten.

Police Search For Teen After Woman Shot Killed.

Syria: ‘Six killed’ in Deraa as troops tighten grip
.

US tornadoes: Death toll rises as more bodies found.

Fatal Bomb in Morocco Shows Signs of Al Qaeda.

Roadside Bomb in Karachi Hits Navy Bus.

Argentine writer Ernesto Sabato dies, age 99.

Violence in the age of innocence.

UN: Sri Lankan Bloodbath Much Worse Than Government Admits.

High Fivin’ James Durbin

He made it! Santa Cruz rocker James Durbin is in the top 5 contestants on American Idol, which auditioned over 120,000 people for this season.

There are only a few more shows to go until the winner is decided. Of course, all those in the top 11 get to go on tour this summer and many of them will receive recording contracts and other offers, regardless of whether they are voted the American Idol or not.

It was good to see a jazz man (Casey Abrams), who is not only a good singer, but also a very good musician, make it so far and get such great acknowledgment from the judges (Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson & Steven Tyler), staff and audience. Casey also seemed to have one of the best times singing his last song on the show than anybody else I’ve seen. He had a lot of fun and was grateful for what had happened, as opposed to being crushed, sad and/or depressed about it.

Accept for Pia Toscano being voted off, the votes for who should stay and go have been pretty much on the money. Than again, comparing artists is in some way, like comparing fruit. They are each unique and have their differences and are all good. It then comes down to personal judgment and preference and not individual ability or creativity.

Keep belting it out James. Hopefully, next week you’ll be in the top four and be high fourin’ it down to three.

James In The Groove

Last night on American Idol, our hometown guy James Durbin produced another memorable performance when he sang Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow by Carole King. The crowd was wowed. The judges were wowed. And at least these members of the TV audience were also wowed. The best part of the song was the first half, which he sang without accompanying instruments. He later dedicated the song (all his songs) to his fiancee Heidi.

If enough people voted for James last night, then he will be one of the final 5 contestants and be representing The Cruz for another week in the competition. The only caveat is that one of the judges, Randy Jackson, went on stage, gave James a hug and said that he thought he was going to be the next American Idol. I may be a little superstitious, but I don’t think those watching the show like to be told who is going to win, since it is they that are the ones who decide and there are some other very good singers (even though the best of the lot, Pia Toscano, was voted off a few weeks ago).

We’ll find out tonight if James made it through. If he did, help him out in the coming weeks and vote often and get your friends and family to do likewise. If James wins (or even if he doesn’t), he has changed the tenor of the show and demonstrated that America can accept a heavy metal rocker from weird Santa Cruz, as much as a young pop singer from Atlanta.

Who Wrote This?

Can you guess what famous book and author the following excerpt is from? It is one of my favorite novels of this lifetime (so far).

***

But they were not successful at Doornfontein, although the white men treated them with consideration. Msimangu knew how to arrange things with white men, and they went to a great deal of trouble, and found that Absalom Kumalo had left them some twelve months before. One of them remembered that Absalom had been friendly with one of their workmen, Dhlamini, and this man was sent for from his work. He told them that when he had last heard, Absalom was staying with a Mrs. Ndlela, of End St., Sophiatown, the street that separates Sophiatown from the European suburb of Westdene. He was not sure, but he thought that the number of the house was 105.

Click HERE for answer.

Get Over It!

Good Grief: Love, Loss and Laughter (Excerpt)

“What are you so upset about? It was only your ex-husband.”

“Come on, get over it. You can always get another cat.”

“Hey, you hadn’t seen your friend in years anyway.”

“They were drunk half the time. Who cares?”

“It’s not the same as being married. You just lived together.”

“You only knew them for two months!”

“Weren’t they old? They lived a long life.”

“No, you can’t come to the funeral. You aren’t part of the family.”

These are just some of the comments that people hear and a small sampling of how their grief is disregarded after they’ve had a friend, acquaintance or family member die. The losses they have experienced don’t match the images of who and what is acceptable to grieve in our society. And it’s not just others that cause such pain. We are often our harshest critics. We internalize the conscious and unconscious messages we are fed daily and are often confused with the intensity of our emotions and reactions after a death, when our head is telling us we should not be feeling much at all.

Our response to any kind of loss, especially from death, is our bodies natural reaction to the human condition, even though we analyze it, distrust it and, at times, find it hard to believe.

“Why am I getting so upset over my ex-husband’s death? We never got along and I’ve been better off without him.”

No matter what the relationship was like, it was a relationship. There were attachments, habits and shared time that will always effect one’s life. For some, the never-ending hope of reconciliation will have died as well.

“It was only a cat. I know it’s not the same as a person.”

Your cat or pet was a living creature. We can grow just as accustomed and fond of an animal as we can with a human. The same kind of attachments and memories occur.

“We were best friends during high school, but that was ages ago.”

Some friends stay with us forever, whether we see them often or rarely at all. The time we spend together can leave us with lasting imprints, influences and memories, as well as regrets, bitterness or pain.

“This is crazy. His drinking ruined our family and our lives. He was mean and abusive. Why is his death so hard? I thought I’d be relieved.”

Even abusive, negative relationships can cause unexpected mixtures of emotion. Though we may have separated ourselves from the individual and learned how to fend for ourselves or are still in contact, there is usually some deep feelings of loss over the years they were not the parent or partner we had wished for. The realization that they have died can also awaken the fact that the opportunity for them to change or be different has died as well.

“We were only housemates. It wasn’t like we were married or anything.”

Whether as a friend, lover, roommate or relative, living in the same household is one of the most intense experiences in our lives. It’s where we learn how to interact with others and provides daily reminders of our differences and similarities. Whether two people living in the same household have their arrangement sanctioned or accepted by others does nothing to diminish the powerful lessons and connections that develop. We are intimately shaped; both good and bad, by those with whom we live.

“I just met them two months ago, but I can’t stop thinking about them.”

The length or duration of a relationship doesn’t necessarily mean that it is of greater or lesser importance or impact. Some people we’ve known for years, yet have little connection, do not effect us deeply upon their passing, whereas others we’ve just met leave lasting footprints. The grief and mourning that result from the loss of a recent or longtime acquaintance is VERY individual and unique to that person, as are our needs in grieving their loss.

“Grandma was eighty-five years old. I knew she wouldn’t last forever, but it feels so sudden. I loved her so much.”

The longer someone you know lives, the harder it can be to accept the reality of their death. Even though you may have had time to prepare and say and do what you needed or wanted to, it can still seem like it came too soon. There are times when no matter the person’s age, you want them to stay forever and their death is devastating.

“They never accepted me. I should have known this would happen.”

You have a right and a human need to attend the funeral and/or memorial of your partner. Your relationship with the deceased was between you and them, not their family or friends. How your relationship was seen or accepted by others is important in your adjusting to the loss, but not dependent upon it.

There are times when those you expect to be of help are not always able or willing to do so. For some, it is too painful. Others find it impossible to stop judging long enough to listen. When you can’t attend the funeral or memorial, due to the deceased’s family, distance or other circumstances, create your own ritual or ceremony of leave-taking. Invite those who will be present to you and share your loss.

Relationships with people and other living creatures are what make us human. It is normal to question, criticize and judge our selves after someone in our life has died. It is also normal to feel pain, frustration, anger, sadness, relief and confusion.

If you don’t get the kind of support and acknowledgment you need from family, friends or colleagues, then find it elsewhere. Don’t minimize, trivialize or try to forget your loss. Find ways to acknowledge, respect, honor and validate your experience and the reactions that have resulted.

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I Am by Tom Shadyac

Went and saw I Am, a documentary by Tom Shadyac, with a friend yesterday. Very important, insightful and challenging film. The theater was packed when we got there, as the film is becoming more well known. The movie and director were both featured on Oprah last week.

In some respects, I Am is similar to What the Bleep Do We Know?. It takes different scientific studies and scientists, to explain how connected all life on the planet is (not just theoretically, but actually). He also interviews various philosophers, spiritual leaders and thinkers to get their views on “What is wrong with the world and what can we do to make it better?”

I Am is different from What the…, because it is much more personal, well photographed and edited (he had more money to do so) and it also looks closely at the cancer of consumption and wanting “more” as symptoms of the human race which may be our demise, if we do not wake up and take another path.

Mr. Shadyac doesn’t preach, but shares the insights he had after accumulating a great deal of wealth (from making movies like Ace Ventura, Bruce Almighty, Patch Adams, etc.), having an accident and re-evaluating his life purpose. He also explores how other biological systems interact, cooperate and communicate. Most people leave this movie with a good feeling and a desire to do good.

The following words from the films website provides an accurate summary.

“Shadyac’s enthusiasm and optimism are contagious. Whether conducting an interview with an intellectual giant, or offering himself as a flawed character in the narrative of the film, Shadyac is an engaging and persuasive guide as we experience the remarkable journey that is I AM. With great wit, warmth, curiosity, and masterful storytelling skills, he reveals what science now tells us is one of the principal truths of the universe, a message that is as simple as it is significant: We are all connected – connected to each other and to everything around us.”

Easter’s Origins

Christians celebrate Easter Sunday as the day that the Jewish teacher, Jesus of Nazareth (later called The Christ), was resurrected (or disappeared) from the tomb within which his body was encased. This celebration is actually one of the more recent spring celebrations, which has morphed from and into many traditions. Pagans have celebrated the ideas and realities of death and rebirth for thousands of years.

One of these festivals celebrated Eostre (The Goddess of Dawn). She was linked to the egg and rabbit or hare and fertility. Others say the modern rabbit connection is a German tradition from the 1500s, when German’s changed the pagan rabbit image into a large bow-tie wearing rabbit named Oschter Haws, who was said to lay nests of colored eggs for good children.

The equinox, at the end of March, is also marked by Christians, Neopagans and Wiccans, many of whom hold celebrations on the eve of day of the equinox. The Eastern Orthodox churches also have Easter services, but they are a month or two later in the year.

The Religious Tolerance site has the following information about Easter’s origins.

The name “Easter” originated with the names of an ancient Goddess and God. The Venerable Bede, (672-735 CE.) a Christian scholar, first asserted in his book De Ratione Temporum that Easter was named after Eostre (a.k.a. Eastre). She was the Great Mother Goddess of the Saxon people in Northern Europe. Similarly, the “Teutonic dawn goddess of fertility [was] known variously as Ostare, Ostara, Ostern, Eostra, Eostre, Eostur, Eastra, Eastur, Austron and Ausos.”

Her name was derived from the ancient word for spring: “eastre.” Similar Goddesses were known by other names in ancient cultures around the Mediterranean, and were celebrated in the springtime. Some were:

Aphrodite from ancient Cyprus
Ashtoreth from ancient Israel
Astarte from ancient Greece
Demeter from Mycenae
Hathor from ancient Egypt
Ishtar from Assyria
Kali, from India
Ostara a Norse Goddess of fertility.

An alternative explanation has been suggested. The name given by the Frankish church to Jesus’ resurrection festival included the Latin word “alba” which means “white.” (This was a reference to the white robes that were worn during the festival.) “Alba” also has a second meaning: “sunrise.” When the name of the festival was translated into German, the “sunrise” meaning was selected in error. This became “ostern” in German. Ostern has been proposed as the origin of the word “Easter”.

There are two popular beliefs about the origin of the English word “Sunday.” It is derived from the name of the Scandinavian sun Goddess Sunna (a.k.a. Sunne, Frau Sonne). It is derived from “Sol,” the Roman God of the Sun.” Their phrase “Dies Solis” means “day of the Sun.” The Christian saint Jerome (d. 420) commented “If it is called the day of the sun by the pagans, we willingly accept this name, for on this day the Light of the world arose, on this day the Sun of Justice shone forth.”

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