10 Things A Friend's Death Taught Me
I wrote these 10 points for myself, and thought I would share them with you today. Our friend Nato took his own life just weeks ago, and he's left behind not only some precious memories, but some pretty serious thinking as well. So, although these are for me, listen in if you want:
- LISTEN: People aren't necessarily fine. Just because someone looks and seems fine, it doesn't mean they are. I've dealt with several suicides before. All of them are a shock, but some more than others. I've heard a statistic that about 80% reveal signs beforehand that suicide is an option. The other 20% are a complete shock to everyone, even those closest to them. I've learned over the years that people aren't what they seem. I've learned not to be impressed with the persona that's put out there. I always try to assume that people are wrestling with fundamental issues and many are carrying a great deal of pain. Hear what they are saying, how they are saying it, body language, anything! Underneath the calm can be a great deal of turbulence.
- LEAN: Find someone to lean on. Learn how to express what you are going through. Find someone who can listen to your deepest fears and most intense pain. Learn to not be ashamed of yourself and trust someone with your truest self. If you start thinking life isn't worth living, immediately realize it is a lie. If you start thinking of suicide, for God's sake, tell someone! If someone asks you if you are, be honest and tell the truth. Life is worth living! Don't believe the lie. There is help out there! Try talking.
- LOOSEN UP: Follow your passion. Find out now what you really, really want to do in life and pursue that. Since Nato's suicide, some people who knew him have actually quit jobs that they hated or are contemplating doing so, figuring correctly that life's too short to be stuck in something that's killing their soul! Why stay trapped in a cell to which you hold the key in your own hand? Go for it! Be released!
- LET IT GO: Money ain't everything. So what if you are in debt up to your eyeballs! So what if you seem forever to struggle for money. Some people feel so overwhelmed with money problems that they see no way out of the trap and would rather escape the whole world than deal with it. This is related to the point above, but settle it in your heart right now that it doesn't matter how much or little money you have, joy is the possession of everyone, including you, no matter what size the bank account or the burden of debt.
- LOVE: Love the one you're with. I mean really love them. Don't believe the myth that the grass is greener on the other side. The one you fell in love with years ago might be gone tomorrow. You might be gone tomorrow. Love is the greatest! So do it, and do it now. Don't wait for perfect conditions. Love Lisa. Love your kids. Love them unconditionally. Extravagantly! Stop holding back, being reserved and cautious. Love her like there is no tomorrow.
- LIVE and LAUGH: Stop and smell the roses. Enjoy life. It isn't all about working, making money, paying bills, chores, deadlines. It is about life. It is about enjoying the trees, the sunsets, the walks, the drives, the stars, the music, the wine, the people, the movies, whatever. Take it all in. Drink life to the dregs. Live every day as though it were your last. You're taking life too seriously. Have fun. Enjoy what you have and enjoy what is. I am surrounded by all kinds of things to enjoy and to rejoice in. Gandhi's mantra was "joy". In spite of indescribable struggles and hardships, joy characterized his demeanor. Rejoice! Again I say, rejoice!
- LOSE IT: Don't put up with the crap. Suddenly, some things are no longer important to those of us left behind. When faced with death or other kinds of great loss, superficialities lose their appeal. Things that waste time and energy and money no longer tempt. Things that are fake are forsaken. It's time to get real! If you smell crap coming, reject it! If you detect it in yourself, dump it! Hate hypocrisy! Abhor pretension!
- LEARN: Learn that God is far more mysterious than you give him credit for. You so want to believe silly notions about God because they give you a false sense of security and comfort. Suddenly, this kind of tragedy makes you realize that God and life aren't as simple as you'd like or thought. God is very unlike you, and his ways are not your ways. He doesn't subscribe to your neat little packages. You are swimming in an endless, fathomless ocean of profound, beautiful and terrifying mystery!
- LEAP: Take some chances. Live a life of risk. Do what you've always wanted to do. Take that trip. Try a new venture. Start that business! Sell all you have and give to the poor. Whatever it is that you've dreamed of doing, give it a shot. Life's too short to live a life of just dreaming, of caution and inevitably of regret. Take that extraordinary leap of faith. What are you waiting for?
- LET THEM BE: One of the consistent burdens that you carry are the expectations put upon you by others. Of course, you need to learn to resist carrying other people's expectations they place upon you, but my point here is that you need to let people be! Don't thrust your goals for others upon them. Not even your children or wife! Release people from your desires. Let people be free to choose their own destiny, to find themselves, to live as they see fit. Loosen your hold on others. They are already extraordinarily beautiful!