25 May 2010


Last week I pretty much cut all my hair off. Well okay, I didn't cut it, a trained professional did, but it's cut nonetheless. It used to be down to about the middle of my back. Now it's more the length of Ellen's, to use an example you might relate to.

The thing that has surprised me most about the comments I've received is that I am "so brave."

So I looked up "brave" in the dictionary and it means "showing courage." And "courage" is "the ability to conquer fear or despair."


I didn't feel any fear about cutting my hair. My only despair was that I couldn't get it chopped sooner than I did. It was something I wanted to do and something I was ready to do. I'm not super girlie (shocking, I know), so I'm not really attached to my hair. My philosophy is that it will grow back. No worries. But I know other girls who would rather lose a limb than their hair.

It got me thinking. I guess BRAVE is like good, evil, fun, and boring: it's a point of view.

From my perspective, what I did was not brave. I hadn't considered a haircut from any other angle. From someone else's perspective, they can't imagine doing what I did.

So then I started thinking on a larger scale. Regardless of where you're standing in your life, I say there's a certain amount of bravery in every life. Sometimes it takes courage to cut off your hair. Sometimes it takes courage to take a job interview. Sometimes it takes courage to be who you are. Sometimes it takes courage to get out of bed in the morning.

Just because it's easy and requires little courage for me doesn't mean it's easy for someone else.

So here's to you, whoever you are, because I know you are brave and strong. You are courageous because you live.

23 May 2010

Will and Grace

I used to watch Will and Grace when it was new on TV. It was part of the Thursday night lineup with Friends and ER. Best night on television. And I loved it.

When I was at my sister's house a couple weeks ago, I watched a re-run. And I just about died laughing.

Will and Grace is a completely different show after coming out and hanging out in the LGBT community! I get the jokes now and I just giggled pretty much the entire time.

I'm going to look into getting the seasons on DVD now. Heaven knows we all need a good laugh.

08 May 2010


There was an accident on Thursday night.

My girlfriend and I were watching a movie.  She lives next to the train tracks.  When I looked out the window to see what was making the noise I was hearing, I saw a FrontRunner train.  Stopped.  That was weird in and of itself, but we assumed that there was something malfunctioning with the train or that there was something amiss with the tracks and went back to watching the movie.

Then it sounded like a helicopter was going to land on the house.  I looked out the window again.  The cul-de-sac was alive like a firework display of red and blue flashing lights and all the neighbors were out of their houses.  Firefighters, EMT's, and police officers were carrying a rescue gurney down the tracks to the Union Pacific gate that is a few hundred yards from the driveway.  The helicopter that I heard was Life Flight landing in the next cul-de-sac over.

We stood on the porch and watched the scene, anxious and curious.  Life Flight didn't see the cul-de-sac where my girlfriend's house is, and while there isn't a large distance between where it landed and the railroad tracks as the crow flies, to walk that distance, especially while carrying the weight of another human being, is another story.  Shortly after the gurney was out of our sight, an EMT came racing back, pleading for the use of a truck parked on the street.

Turns out that a young man had jumped from the bridge onto the tracks in an attempt to commit suicide.  He was coherant and talking to officials as they reached him and carried him, but shortly after they were on the street, his blood pressure dropped and his vitals became unstable.  I imagine that's about the time the EMT went searching for the owner of the truck.

The damage was done though.  Despite the heroic efforts of emergency crews, he didn't make it.

I don't know any more about the story than what I witnessed.  I don't know his name.  I don't know for sure how old he was, as one official said 18 and another said 20.  I don't know how long he laid on the tracks, if he felt any physical pain, how many siblings he had.  The only thing I know about his life was that he didn't want to live it anymore.

To be so young and to be so hopeless, so desperate to end the pain you feel...that is tragedy to me.  What makes it especially heightened is that I have been there myself, desperate and hopeless, and I know those emotions do not have to last.

I have thought about him a lot.  I have wondered about who he was.  I have prayed that his family can be comforted as they ask their own questions and try to manage the grief that comes when a loved one leaves this life.  I have prayed for his safety and comfort as well, and hope that he can feel of the impact his life has had and the love that exists for him.  I pray that the Spirit of God will grant him the peace that he could not find, and that it will be with him now and forever.

This incident has also brought to mind one of John Donne's writings, Meditation 17.  I have posted it in its entirety, but particularly the paragraph where he says:

"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

For the rest of the night, as FrontRunner trains would pass, the sound of their bells could be heard.  I'm sure it was a potential warning to anyone who could still be in the area investigating.  It seemed fitting in some way, some small mention that something had happened, and that mankind was the less that night, and from that night forward.

Again, I resound my plea, that if you are at the point where this young man was, desperate and hopeless, and you are done with living the life that you have, please please please just wait a minute longer, ten minutes longer, an hour longer, a day longer.  There is beauty in this life.  There is joy in this life.  There are small things that matter a great deal and there are people who love and care about you more than you can believe or imagine.  You have the strength to grow from the pain.  You have the courage to take another breath, and another, and another, and let your heart keep beating.  I know you do.  Just pause...for a moment...and find it within yourself.  Take my word for it if you don't believe in the power you have.

The pain I feel surrounding this young man's death cannot compare to the pain of those who knew him, those he left behind.  But it's a pain I feel.  He had no way of knowing that his life would touch mine, however briefly, and that he would forever imprint my memory.  We are all connected.  Our lives are intertwined.

This world would be the less without you.

John Donne's Meditation 17

(From Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions)

Now this bell tolling softly for another, says to me, Thou must die.

PERCHANCE he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill as that he knows not it tolls for him. And perchance I may think myself so much better than I am, as that they who are about me, and see my state, may have caused it to toll for me, and I know not that. The church is catholic, universal, so are all her actions; all that she does, belongs to all. When she baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that head which is my head too, and ingraffed into that body, whereof I am a member. And when she buries a man, that action concerns me; all mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God's hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again, for that library where every book shall lie open to one another; as therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come; so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness.

There was a contention as far as a suit (in which, piety and dignity, religion and estimation, were mingled) which of the religious orders should ring to prayers first in the morning; and it was determined, that they should ring first that rose earliest. If we understand aright the dignity of this bell, that tolls for our evening prayer, we would be glad to make it ours, by rising early, in that application, that it might be ours as well as his, whose indeed it is. The bell doth toll for him, that thinks it doth; and though it intermit again, yet from that minute, that that occasion wrought upon him, he is united to God. Who casts not up his eye to the sun when it rises? But who takes off his eye from a comet, when that breaks out? who bends not his ear to any bell, which upon any occasion rings? But who can remove it from that bell, which is passing a piece of himself out of this world?

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Neither can we call this a begging of misery, or a borrowing of misery, as though we were not miserable enough of ourselves, but must fetch in more from the next house, in taking upon us the misery of our neighbors. Truly it were an excusable covetousness if we did; for affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it. No man hath afflicion enough, that is not matured and ripened by it, and made fit for God by that affliction. If a man carry treasure in bullion or in a wedge of gold, and have none coined into current moneys, his treasure will not defray him as he travels. Tribulation is treasure in the nature of it, but it is not current money in the use of it, except we get nearer and nearer our home, heaven, by it. Another may be sick too, and sick to death, and this affliction may lie in his bowels, as gold in a mine, and be of no use to him; but this bell that tells me of his affliction, digs out, and applies that gold to me: if by this consideration of another's danger, I take mine own into contemplation, and so secure myself, by making my recourse to my God, who is our only security.

Donne, John. The Works of John Donne. vol III.
Henry Alford, ed.
London: John W. Parker, 1839. 574-5.