Gracious Gratitude
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Gracious Gratitude

Day 296

Puppies … And When the Monster Wins

In the weeks since returning from my Zen Center retreat, I have a new morning ritual. No attention to glowing screens until I’ve written in my journal, read a bit from a few books, tended to my living things (dogs and plants) and meditated. Even then I sometimes stay away from email until at my desk in the office and do my best to avoid all social media as long as I can.

So when I was talking with my brother as I drove around picking up some pups today the news hit me.

“Such a shame about Anthony Bourdain,” he said.

This elicited a, “What happened?” from me.

He’s dead. Suicide.

Nothing like the Universe circumventing coffee to deliver a little throat punch first thing in the day.

Through the day it was amazing, sadly so, to see just how few people truly understand the monster that is the darkness of mental illness. Even fewer people can grok the enormity of things like alcoholism and addiction. While these two categories of conditions are not always linked, nor are they mutually exclusive.

To those who suffer from neither of the above, first of all, congratulations. You pulled a lucky lottery ticket on that front. For those of us who live with one or more of these monsters within our corpus, the journey isn’t easy.

As if the conditions themselves weren’t monumental, we live in a society where it’s just not okay to admit when things aren’t okay. It’s just not okay to be anything less than the happy-go-lucky images splattered across social media platforms. Every moment of every life, deeply curated and filtered to present an image of … what? Of perfection? That my life is just great thank you very much?

Sure, you can say that someone like Kate Spade or Anthony Bourdain has no “reason” not to be happy. Success. Fame. Money. Doing work, as it would seem, that they loved. Surrounded by people who care about them. What on EARTH could they have to be depressed about?

That’s the point, folks. These diseases take no prisoners. They honor no boundaries of social register or financial persuasion. Just because someone “looks” okay, doesn’t mean they are.

Post after post today listing numbers for suicide prevention hotlines and offering that if you’re in a dark place to remember you’re not alone. That if you need help, just call or reach out.

All those comments and kindness are great.

They also are relatively useless to someone who is tangled in the depths of the darkness.

I know. I’ve been there.

For whatever reason, I’m one of the lucky ones. And I consider it just that. Luck. I also consider it a luck that could one day run out should I fail to continue doing the daily work I must do in order to push that darkness as far away as possible. You see, that darkness never goes away. It’s always there.

The struggle is real.

Okay … so this may be my last commentary on hockey for a while. Or not. But I had to say something after seeing this interview with the marvelous #29, Goaltender Marc Andre Fleury. Seeing the pain and sadness in his eyes. Hearing him apologize to the fans? Stabbed me in the heart, it did. There is nothing for which he need apologize. The Stanley Cup may not be in Las Vegas (this year) but what we received is so far greater. More people than I can count have said in the last less than 24 hours that what they saw happen here — the camaraderie, the kinship, the coming together of an entire community — that they’d never seen anything like it here before. Will it stick? I say yes. The connections I’ve made this season supersede hockey.

So my dear Flower, let yourself feel sad at the loss. You’re allowed. But do not think for one minute that you let us down. You and your teammates raised us up. You gave us a rallying point. You brought us together. This was the beginning … we have time.

Because … people are sad today and Puppies are Better Than Prozac…

Today’s Gracious Gratitude. I am grateful for:

  • Having life experience that allows me to be there for a friend and share strength and hope
  • Making plans to go to a movie with a pal
  • When returning to my roots means branching out new paths in my life
  • Being in the center of my sober life, connected to people in whom I can trust my tender heart and knowing that if things get dark, I’m not alone
  • Feeling tears of joy well up at typing that last item as I’m overwhelmed realizing the love in my life
  • When something that used to baffle me gets handled smoothly and intuitively
  • People who volunteer their time doing civic duty and taking part in trying to hold together the fabric of Democracy
  • Belting out the songs from Hamilton and that my dogs think I sound awesome



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