Thank you, Robin Williams!

20140721_100448This won’t be the blog from which you learn that Robin Williams has died.

This may or may not be a blog on which you read anything you haven’t already read somewhere else. Or everywhere else.

As I was in a Finance Committee meeting last night when I got the news.  Shocking as it was, this news didn’t justify excusing myself from a meeting to rush something out into the blogosphere.

Now that you have read everything else about William’s life and death; now that you’ve searched for, found, and shared your own collections of quotes and clips, I offer you this.

Everyone wants a new angle.  Everyone wants to say or write or share the perfectly unique perspective on the fact that Robin Williams’ life and work.

I am not alone in this.

I am, however, one who has reminded a few hundred people that “there is nothing new under the sun” rather frequently here recently.

Yet I want, I almost crave to say something different.  I want – do I need? – to share something you hadn’t already thought of?

All these thoughts marinated in me last night and again this morning.  As I sat down with the intent to blog, I realized something about all the reflection – reflection about myself, and Robin Williams, and life and depression and death and shared experience.

What I realized is this: part of the reason news of Williams’ death has so shaken so many of us is exactly because he managed – for over thirty years – to say and do things that struck us as both unique and new, but also as familiar and comfortable.  He made us laugh to the point of drooling and snorting. He brought us to tears with moving moments of humanity.

Did Robin Williams disprove that there is nothing new under the sun?  No, but I think he drew us together in ways and with methods that were, at least, out of the norm.

So, instead of trying to share something about Robin Williams’ life that is new, unique, or out of the norm, I’ll just share with you my thanks for his ability to draw us past the weight of our lives into the experience of joy and sadness that connected and connects us with each other.

And… about that…

No doubt some of his comedic genius and some of the source from which he was able to draw his acting ability came from the same deep well as the depression and addiction issues.  He struggled with and against these, I suppose, all his life.  He ultimately fell victim to them.

His death saddens us both because we won’t have another Robin Williams movie or series or stand up routine, and because we don’t want lives to be taken from us by such insidious means.

Death touches us all – this time a single death has touched a great many people.

Yet this singular death of an individual suffering from – perhaps tortured by – demons of depression and addiction serves us.  It reminds us that we are people who, to a variety of degrees, know the power of depression and addiction.  Some of us know it from the inside.  Some only from the outside.

It is my prayer for you today, in memory of Robin Williams, that you will check in with those close enough to you for you to know the power of depression and addiction in their lives.  Let them know they are not alone.  May doing so remind you that you, too, are not alone.

Thank you, Robin Williams!

Thank you, Robin Williams!

Assumptions

I saw a couple walking together. Or were they?
Matching sweatshirts matching sweat pants matching white shoes step for step both had headphones on one was walking about 6 feet in front of the other.
How were they together and how were they not?
Their appearances matched so well I asked they were together.
Why?
I group things, and people, by their appearance and behavior all the time. Sometimes fairly, sometimes not.
The Sesame Street sing “One of these things is not like the others” comes to mind. Differentiation is an important skill, but figuring how deeply distinguishing features go is even more important.
Categorizing, even stereotyping, I believe is beneficial for negotiating a world of differences. Locking the one or ones observed into the limits of a stereotype, on the other hand, is extremely dangerous.

Assumptions

My Belated Apologies, Paul and Art

darknessYesterday I cracked open Barbara Brown Taylor’s Learning to Walk in the Dark.  This is the July selection for our Summer Book Club.   Here’s how the Introduction opens:

I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches hidden in secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name.  – Isaiah 45:3

Immediately, this memory surfaced from more than 30 years ago.  As a young Christian in high school, I reacted strongly and arrogantly against a musical duo that performed at a Midwinter Retreat because they performed Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence.”

Near the pinnacle of the phase of my life when I knew everything, I was utterly certain that the line “Hello darkness my old friend…” was (bot so) subtly conjuring up the Prince of Darkness Himself at this unsuspecting Christian event.

Oh, the horror!  The Horror!

Then, today, I crack

HOW CAN IT BE!?  In scripture, no less, a positive reference to darkness!

I had no idea, as a 16 year old young Christian-who-knew-everything, that this could possibly be from the same source, the Bible, as all my outrage at the reference to darkness.

So, I didn’t actually know everything then.  I don’t know everything today. It hasn’t taken me all these years to realize this. But it is not every day that something from my past is brought so clearly back into focus.

I am sorry, Simon and Garfunkel, for being so arrogantly presumptuous and condescending.  I am sorry, duo who sang at that Midwinter, for all the attitude a 16 year old Christian-who-knows-everything can muster.

I am looking forward to reading this book.

I am also looking forward to giving others the benefit of the doubt.  It turns out I didn’t know everything at 16.  I still don’t.

My Belated Apologies, Paul and Art

Changing Your Mind

Are you at the mercy of whatever happens to enter your mind?  Sometimes this becomes an excuse we make.  It is one tool we use to justify a lack of transformation in our lives.

Now, you may (or may not) want any transformation in your life, but people of God are promised, offered, commanded it.

So here we go. Can we, indeed, change our minds?

I did so last night.  I am still surprised that it happened, and the degree to which it succeeded.

You see, I had a particular song in my head.  It doesn’t matter what song it was, but you know how this works.  Sometimes you get a song in your head and it just stays.  (I once had the theme from the A-Team in my head for over a year, but don’t hold that against me)

I was tired of this particular song, whatever it was, so I set to thinking of a different song.  I hoped to replace one song with another.

It worked.  I don’t mind telling you, either, that, for whatever reason, the new song, that I now cannot get out of my head is Shine, by the Newsboys. (Thank you, Glen Lake Camp, for making sure that song was in my recall files.)

Changing what is in one’s mind is not always this easy, but it IS possible.  More than that, perhaps it will help you to know that God is interested in changing our minds (Romans 12:2 & 2 Corinthians 10:5, for example).

Give it a try.  Start with something little, like a song in your head.

God’s it for it. Are you?

Changing Your Mind

You get what you paid for?

Personally, I feel this comic would be funnier were it not an accurate portrayal of life. Does the definition of ‘good employee’ now start with “never expects to have his /her work recognized by a pay increase”?

A youth I knew a couple of years ago was very happy at his fast-food job. He had worked there 2 years, worked hard, and, told me, was told by his supervisor how much his commitment was valued.  Since I asked, he also told me he had never received a raise in 2 years.

By contrast, the fast food job I had in high school came with quarterly opportunities for performance review and potential raise. Thus, I was not only told my work was valued, I was paid like it.

If employers are making money, it seems to me employees are entitled (yes, I’ll use that word) to some reward too.

Empty words don’t offer much reward.

You get what you paid for?

Thing(s) I don’t really want to remember

At a wedding recetpion over the weekend, I heard Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy wit’ it” for the first time in several years.  my older daughter, who was 9 when the song came out (in 1998) owned the cd. We heard it plenty.

I had not heard it in a long time, yet I found myself singing along immediately.

I don’t want to rememebr the words to this song!  I don’t even care if I remember the song.  I don’t know if Will Smith cares if he remembers the song.

I have nothing against Will Smith; either now or back when he was a singer/musician.  It’s just that an awful lot of the music I have heard over the years isn’t particularly interesting to me NOW.

And yet, I remember it.

I suppose I could let this bother me.  I suppose you might suggest I have let it bother me if I am writing about it today, almost 40 hours after it happened.  I promsie I am not bothered.

It does give me pause to reflect, though, on how stuff gets inside us and finds a resting place.  If I was sitting down to a test today, and was asked – required- for the test to be able to cite “Gettin’ Jiggy wit’ it,” I am pretty sure that, had I not heard it Saturday, I would draw a blank today.

Jesus said it is not what you and I take into our body as food that defiles, but what is in our hearts.  I don’t know if  “Gettin’ Jiggy wit’ it” is, in fact, in my heart, but it is obviously in me in a deeper sense than Saturday’s lunch is. (I had a turkey sandwich, if you must know).

So: what is in you?  Song lyrics from 13 years ago?  Lyrics from 30 years ago? Don’t beat yourself up over what’s in there that you no longer want.  Condsider, on the other hand, putting stuff in there now that you will be thankful for in 13 years.

 

Thing(s) I don’t really want to remember

Don’t cry for me… Belgium?

The other day I saw Henry Winkler hawking second mortgages (on television).  What a long ways he has come from playing The Fonz. Though he has played quite a variety of roles since jumping the shark on Happy Days, I still believe he may be second to William Shatner in having locked down a stereotype image.

So it should come as no surprise that Fonzie’s picture is used on this report of the “coolest nations,” determined in a recent poll at badoo.com.

The U.S. is still on top.  That is, we were chosen the coolest nation.  Aaaay!

But, can we have a moment of silence out of respect for Belgium, the least-cool nation?

What does it mean to be selected “coolest” nation?  At least this is an international poll, so it is not just Americans voting ourselves the coolest.

But, then, could we do that right now?  Our political “leaders” in both parties fight like toddlers. We live beyond our means and expect the rest of the world to do whatever it takes for us to continue to do so.

Don’t cry for me… Belgium?