Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘peace’

i have wanted to see paul mccartney in concert since i was 4 or 5 years old. i am going to see him for the first time this sunday night at wrigley field with my friend diana…then on monday i’m going to go again with my husband and our two kids.  their first concert ever, paul mccartney…not bad.   i’m so happy we are able to take them.  i am over the moon excited about seeing him.   i am sure i will try to write a post about it afterwards, what it means to me…i’m not sure if i’ll be able to put it into words…but for now, i wanted to share some of paul mccartney’s words with you.

this is from the book “the right words at the right time”.   marlo thomas asked various people to “reach back into your life and search for that moment when words made all the difference”…then she put the responses in a book.   here is what paul mccartney wrote in answer to her request.

“I was going through a really difficult time around the autumn of 1968.  It was late in the Beatles’ career and we had begun making a new album, a follow-up to the white album.  As a group we were starting to have problems.   I think I was sensing that the Beatles were breaking up, so I was staying up too late at night, drinking, doing drugs, clubbing, the way a lot of people were at the time.   I was really living hard and playing hard.

The other guys were all living out in the country with their partners, but I was still a bachelor in london with my own house in St. John’s Wood.   And that was kind of at the back of my mind also, that maybe it was about time I found someone, because it was before I got together with Linda.

So, I was exhausted!   Some nights I’d go to bed and my head would just flop on the pillow; and when I’d wake up I’d have difficulty pulling it off, thinking, “good job I woke up just then or I might have suffocated.”

Then one night, somewhere between deep sleep and insomnia, I had the most comforting dream about my mother, who had died when I was only fourteen.   She had been a nurse, my mum, and very hardworking, because she wanted the best for us.   We weren’t a well-off family-we didn’t have a car, we just about had a television-so both of my parents went out to work, and Mum contributed a good half to the family income.   At night when she came home, she would cook, so we didn’t have a lot of time with each other.   But she was just a very comforting presence in my life.   And when she died, one of the difficulties I had, as the years went by, was that I couldn’t recall her face so easily.   That’s how it is for everyone, I think.   As each day goes by, you just can’t bring their faces into your mind; you have to use photographs and reminders like that.

So in this dream twelve years later, my mother appeared, and there was her face, completely clear, particularly her eyes; and she said to me very gently, very reassuringly, “Let it be.”

It was lovely.   I woke up with a great feeling.   It was really like she had visited me at this very difficult point in my life and gave me this message: be gentle, don’t fight things, just try and go with the flow and it will all work out.

So, being a musician, I went right over to the piano and started writing a song: “When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me”….Mary was my mother’s name…”Speaking words of wisdom, let it be. There will be an answer, let it be.”   It didn’t take long.  I wrote the main body of it in one go, then the subsequent verses developed from there: “When all the broken-hearted people living in the world agree, there will be an answer, let it be.”

I thought it was special, so I played it to the guys and ’round a lot of people, and later it also became the title of the album, because it had so much value to me, and because it just seemed definitive, those three little syllables.   Plus, when something happens like that, as if by magic, I think it has a resonance that other people notice too.

Not very long after the dream, I got together with Linda, which was the saving of me.   And it was if my mum had sent her, you could almost say.   The song is also one of the first things Linda and I ever did together musically.   We went over to Abbey Road Studios one day, where the recording sessions were in place.   I lived nearby and often used to just drop in when I knew an engineer would be there and do little bits on my own.   And I just thought, “Oh, it would be good to try harmony on this.”   But I had a high harmony in mind, too high for me, and although Linda wasn’t a professional singer, I’d heard her sing around the house and knew she could hold a note and sing that high.   So she tried it, and it worked and it stayed on the record.   You can hear it to this day.

These days, the song has became almost like a hymn.    We sang it at Linda’s memorial service. and after September 11, the radio played it a lot, which made it the obvious choice for me to sing when I did the benefit concert in New York City.   Even before September 11, people used to lean out of cars and trucks and say, “Yo, Paul, let it be.”

So those words are really very special to me, because not only did my mum come to me in a dream and reassure me with them at a very difficult time in my life-and sure enough, things did get better after that-but also, in putting them into a song and recording it with the Beatles, it became a reassuring, healing statement for other people too.”

-Paul McCartney

“And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light, that shines on me, shine until tomorrow, let it be.”

Read Full Post »

not long ago i read the book “going bovine” by libba bray.  it’s a brilliant book about a sixteen year old boy named cameron who has mad cow disease.  while cameron is dying of mad cow disease, he goes on these crazy adventures, perhaps in his mind, trying to find a cure.  he encounters all sorts of interesting characters and has all sorts of surreal experiences.

throughout his adventure, he is aided by a punk rock angel named dulcie.  she shows up every now and again to give him clues…to help him out a bit along the way.  dulcie explains to cameron about ‘the wishing tree’.  she tells him that it is a tree that grants wishes.  the branches are filled with people’s wishes. cameron questions her…wondering how everyone’s wishes could be granted no matter what.  this is dulcie’s reply:

“Well, you have to know what to wish for.  Take this one.”  She plucks a wish from high on a branch.  “I wish I were famous. Okay, first question: Why does this person want to be famous?  To be worshiped?  Adored?  To get noticed? To make gobs and gobs of money?  You have to look inside the wish and find the heart.  So maybe what this person really wants, the heart of it, is to find somebody who adores her.  She goes out to wherever it is people go to become famous and just gets knocked down and out and around like a pinball flipper.  And one day, as she’s walking on the beach totally bummed, this person comes along, and to him, she’s a rock star.  He adores her, and with him, she feels adored, famous.  In a roundabout way, she’s gotten what she really wanted.  Wish granted.”

to me, that is how prayer works.  in this way, i do believe that all prayers are answered.  i don’t believe in a god in the sky making arbitrary decisions based on how hard you pray or whether you do x, y, and z.  why would god do that?  why would god heal one baby and not another?  why would god want to punish us?  i don’t think god does or would.  i think this is a very human idea.  and humans are flawed…wounded…myself included.

when i was a child, i prayed often…even though i wasn’t raised to believe in god.  our family wasn’t religious.  we never went to church.  my parents only saw the hypocrisy of religion.  i see that too, but i have always felt very connected spiritually.  it is something i have thought about and experienced for as long as i can remember…even as a small child.  as this small child, when i prayed…i never ever prayed for something concrete.  this made no sense to me.  why would god grant me a barbie and not the poor girl down the street?  i only prayed for peace and strength.  as i got older, i added understanding.   and now, i feel like i have all those things, although i can forget that i have them at times.

i think to pray, we have to open ourselves up to the power of the universe…or god, whichever word you feel comfortable using.  and this power is for all of us…for all of our higher goods.  i think prayer, or setting your intention, is just making the space for the thing you desire.   but just like in the book, i think people often don’t know what they are really praying for…i don’t think people often realize what is at the heart of their prayer or wish.   christopher reeve could have prayed 24 hours a day to be able to reverse the damage to his body that his accident caused.  i don’t believe any amount of praying would have done that for him.  but it seems to me, that he found peace…his truth.  i think that is at the heart of many prayers.

if someone is losing their house because of a bad financial situation, isn’t the heart of their prayer to feel safe?  to be taken care of?  is it really about a house?  we believe all too often that something outside ourselves will make us happy…and i think that usually we are mistaken.  it can feel good to connect and share things with others, to walk the path with someone, but the peace really comes from within us…we just make the mistake of thinking the thing outside of ourselves is what gave us the peace.  don’t get me wrong…we need each other.  we need connection…but we can’t get our self worth or peace from another person or thing.

time after time in my life i have thought i wanted or needed one thing, only to be heart broken or disappointed when i couldn’t have what i felt i needed.  i can’t remember a time that this didn’t turn out to be a lesson for me…i can’t remember a time that i didn’t get what was at the heart of my wish.  sometimes it takes longer then we want it to.  but i do believe in this way…all of our prayers are answered.  we just need to stay open…go with the flow of life.  make room for the answers and they will come.

Read Full Post »

i have had some significant losses in my life, as many of us do.  one of the most significant losses i experienced was when my best friend ingrid died.  we were both 12 years old.  she was hit by a car riding her bike to my house.  there is nothing that feels like that…when someone you love is here…with you, then gone…just gone.  completely disappears.  just writing about it here makes me feel like i was just punched in the gut…you can’t get enough air.  the shock, the panic, the searching.  some part of my brain kept looking for her…unable to get my mind around the fact that she was just gone.  period.  gone.

i read a short story a while ago written by an older man.  this man had been married to his wife for many years.  he loved her deeply.  they were, in so many ways, one.  then she died.  he writes of the grief…the indescribable pain.  he writes how one day, after her death, he found himself crawling around the living room floor, searching for strands of her hair that she might have left behind in the carpet…as if he found one of her hairs, he could have her back.  i’ll never forget that image.  this elderly man, desperately searching…crawling on the floor, trying to hold on to something that was gone…her physical presence.

i tell my kids that when someone dies, they are with us forever.  that what we shared with them, the love we shared, is real and always with us.  we are always connected to that and to them.  that they are in our hearts forever.  i think i started to tell my kids this because i wanted them to feel safe.  i can’t explain to them the bigger picture things i believe, so i simplified it to give them a sense of security.  but i think i have come to realize lately that this is really actually true.

i realized these last couple of years that i never really grieved over ingrid.  i feel i have done that..and in doing so have made room for the good memories.  i have been talking to people i went to high school about her…asking what they remember.  i have been emailing her mother and her brother.  it has been very healing for me, and i hope for them too.  there was always a space in my heart for her…it was just full of pain and hurt, so i didn’t look at it.  this past year i have looked at it and felt the pain,  and in doing so was able to let it go…and now that space is full of her…us…our connection.  memories of the times we shared…memories of what an amazing person she was, how she helped me so much.  she is with me always and i feel it now.  and that feels very good.

when we love someone, when we share something with someone that is real and meaningful, that creates something of it’s own…the energy of what you shared.  that energy will always be with us.  this is true in all cases of loss, whether the person died or they are alive but no longer part of your life.  feel the pain and it will create space to honor the “good” memories…the real and true things you shared.

i am not trying to negate the physical loss.  the person not being in your life anymore is real.  that is a real loss…the things you’ll never do with them again…the things you’ll never share with them again…the things you’ll never be able to tell them.  that is so very real, and so painful…but what is also real is what you shared…and that will be with you forever.

warren zevon wrote this song when he found out he was dying of lung cancer.  it’s the last song he ever recorded.  he was very ill at the time.  sing it for us warren you beautiful soul…

edit:here is a different video of warren zevon singing the same song.  this is from the documentary that was made while he recorded his last album, the wind.  he started writing and recording it after he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.  in the video you can see a number of the musicians who came to play on his album and say goodbye to him (jackson browne and bruce springsteen are two of them).  his daughter ariel and his son jordan are also in it.  he completed the album before he died.  after he died, his last album got him five grammy nominations.  he won two…the only grammies he ever won.   i have the dvd if anyone wants to watch it.  i think it’s brilliant. 

Read Full Post »

i lived in san diego briefly about 25 years ago.  while i was there, i started attending the local community college.  one of the classes i took was philosophy.  i loved philosophy…still do.  i love talking about ideas.  and what made that class even better was the professor…professor banks.   she was the kind of professor who really wanted to discuss…she didn’t seem too concerned with tests or grades.   she wanted us to examine our ideas and share them…she encouraged us to question everything.   i really loved her class.

i never finished that class, or any of the other ones i was taking back then.  i had not dealt with the traumas of my past and the pain started to really affect me.  i decided i should move back to chicago, where i knew more people…where i felt i had more support.  i remember being so disappointed in myself…so disappointed i couldn’t stay.   i talked to professor banks about it and said my goodbyes.  she asked me if i wanted to give her my address so she could send me the papers i had written.  she hadn’t graded them yet.  i remember being kind of surprised.  thinking back on it now, i think i was surprised that she valued them…she valued my ideas…she valued me.  i gladly gave her my address and moved back home.

a month or so later i got a package in the mail from her.  i had forgotten all about those papers and here they were.  she had read them all and written comments to me…even though i wasn’t going to finish her class.  another professor might have thought it didn’t matter anymore…why waste the time?  but she knew it mattered.  discussing my ideas with me mattered whether i was going to formally finish her class or not.  in the package she also included a copy of the book the prophet by kahlil gibran.  she bookmarked the page on self-knowledge and wrote this inside the front cover:

“For Mahra, a true “Lover of Wisdom”, Be ever faithful to yourself”

i remember how it felt to get that from her.  i felt seen.  i felt like she had seen in me what i could not see…my light.  she believed in me even though i did not believe in myself.   i never forgot that.

that book is probably the possession i treasure most.  i treasure it because she gave it to me…and i treasure it because of the truth it contains for me.  it spoke to me when i first read it all those years ago…and it speaks to me even louder now.  and whenever i read it, i think of professor banks and feel grateful that she saw me and felt it important enough to send it.

i thought of her today while i was cutting the grass.  i have no idea why.  i thought i would contact her and send her my blog address.  i got excited by this idea.  i would love to discuss ideas with her again. so i called the college to try to contact her.  they told me she died 6 years ago.   then i remembered the letter she sent me in 2001.  i had written her to thank her for the book…to tell her i have kept it all these years and how important it was to me.  i told her about my life and how i had healed so much.  she wrote me back a beautiful letter.  i have always cherished it.  you can click here to read the entire letter.  in it she said:

“Mahra, I certainly do remember you and have thought of you often over the years.  There was never any doubt in my mind that you would go on to successfully complete your formal education.  What was more important to me was that you understood that true education is about embracing yourself and the formal aspect helps to shape and enhance what life is teaching you.  Education is a life long  journey.  We go on integrating both the formal and the informal and delighting in the outcomes.  It’s never easy, and it hurts at times, as you and I well know, but it’s so worth it isn’t it.”

“I, too, couldn’t get enough of all there was to learn.  So, m’dear, it would appear that we are kindred spirits.  What a delight!  Pass it on!  First to Quincy and your husband and then to the next young man or woman you encounter in whom you recognize that hunger for wisdom and truth.  It did not begin with Gibran and will not end with you and I.  We are all linked in this journey and it all began a “zillion” years ago deep in the human heart that recognized that we are so much more than we seem to be at any given moment.  I know you understand this and it fills my heart with joy. The joy is based on the fact that the years go rushing by and class after class pass through my care and I look to you and students like you who “get it” to continue passing on the “light” that illuminates the dark recesses of indifference and a willingness to settle only for mediocrity that ends in hearts burdened with haunting dissatisfaction that infects everyone they encounter, especially the young.”

when the woman on the phone told me that she died, i started to feel regret.  why hadn’t i kept in contact with her?  what more could she have taught me?  i wanted to talk to her more…i wanted to feel that connection…i wanted to tell her thank you again…i wanted to let her know what she meant to me.  but as i read her letter today, i began to feel such peace.  i learned what i needed to from her.  i am lucky enough to have told her how i felt about her…she knows.  the connection with her is still there…and always will be.   and most importantly i am sharing my light with the world and others…just as she shared her light with me…and for that i’m so grateful.

Read Full Post »

when i first became friends with cathy, which was almost 30 years ago now, she lived with her father in park ridge.  one of the things i loved about cathy’s room is that she always had interesting things on the wall…cartoons, pictures cut out of magazines…a wolf,  a guitar, the dalai lama…you know, very important things.  i loved how she taped them to the wall so they were always in view…visual reminders of what was meaningful to her.

one day when i was over there i noticed something that had been cut out of a magazine and taped right in the middle of her door.  it read “joy in spite of everything”.  i remember reading it and feeling a new space open up in my understanding of the world…a possibility i hadn’t seen before.  it felt like such a bold statement about life and what was important…what one could choose to focus on.  the idea that we could even have a choice was new to me.

i had already been through quite a bit of trauma in my life…experienced deep pain.  when people would talk about positive affirmations, i wanted to punch them.  it felt so invalidating.  how could i “put on a happy face” in the midst of what i had experienced?  how could i “think positive” while feeling such deep greif and pain?  i could not. but this idea…joy in spite of everything…that was something totally different.  the idea that right along side the suffering, the pain,  real things we experience in life, there could also be joy.  joy in spite of  everything…not joy instead of everything.

over and over again in my life i had gotten the message that how i felt wasn’t ok.   my feelings seemed to make people uncomfortable.  i hadn’t met anyone who could sit with them…sit with me while i felt them.  people always tried to get me to change my feelings.  i couldn’t have changed them if i tried…my feelings were so deep.  there was so much pain…so much loss, i felt like i was drowning in them.  how could i just make the pain go away after all that had happened?  i could not.  but what i could do was start to see joy in spite of it.

this idea rang so true to me that i immediately asked cathy if i could borrow that little strip of paper that she had cut out of a magazine.  i took it and photocopied it…then laminated it…purposefully taping it to my door at eye level.  i wanted it to be the last thing i saw every day before i went out into the world…a reminder to myself of what is possible.  that sign has been with me all this time.  it has been taped to many doors…it has been up in all the places i’ve lived.  i have photocopied it many times and given copies to people.   the sign is sacred to me.

i believe in those words…joy in spite of everything…it is an ideal i strive for.  there is always joy.  we just might not be able to see it through the pain and confusion, and that’s ok.  i don’t think many of us, if any, will reach the point in this lifetime that we always can see the joy in life at every moment, no matter what…but whether we can see it or not, it’s there.   and the more open i am to this truth, the more i can experience it.  i am not talking about not feeling our feelings of pain and grief…i am talking about being open to see the joy in life, in spite of those feelings…right along side of them.

in times of great pain, there is still music…the sun still sets…the wind still blows, making the trees sway back and forth…the birds still sing.   there is so much joy and beauty in life.  i have, at times, experienced such deep pain that i couldn’t see any of those things…i couldn’t see the joy.  but there always came the day that i noticed, despite the grief, the beauty of a flower or how good it feels to pet my dog.  i might still be experiencing pain, but found myself stopping to listen to the sound of a creek…and it would surprise me…it would surprise me that i could feel joy in the midst of such pain.

it doesn’t surprise me much anymore.  i know it is a constant in life…the joy…it’s always there.  and my job isn’t to try to force the joy…my job is to accept whatever it is i’m feeling.  and in accepting that, i allow myself the space to start to see and feel the joy… in spite of anything.

Read Full Post »