The single most mind-blowing factoid I ever heard – the human body produces about 2.4 million new red blood cells (RBCs) every…..second. Day and night, second after second, 2.4 million new life forms. There is more going on in your body at this very moment than in all of downtown Tokyo at rush hour.
Yesterday on Facebook, near the top of my newsfeed, I saw a post from a page called Disarm the Police in America. It started “The following families will have an empty chair at their Christmas dinner.” I clicked on it and found a long series of pictures of victims of police shootings. Under each one, page host Rick Hill had written: “Our family will keep your family in our prayers.” In the comments under each post, a woman named Patricia had typed “JUSTICE for (the person pictured.”) In some cases, family members of victims had commented things like “Thanks everyone for your support.” “Still fighting for justice,” “It still hurts.”
On and on for at least 30 people whose cases Disarm the Police are following. I was sobbing after the first three, but I couldn’t stop reading. I’m crying about it now, just thinking about it. But that brings up the question, why was I reading it? Why couldn’t I stop? It’s not like reading their stories was doing the families any good. I wasn’t learning anything new. These were just 30 cases out of thousands in the USA and thousands more worldwide.
All I was getting out of it was sadness. So why look?
I think it’s fair to say my mother June was loved. With adoring children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, friends, lovers, and colleagues, it only took her 80 years to realize it. She started to pick up on others’ love only after my brother Daniel persuaded the whole family to tell her, “I love you” every chance we got. Even then it took years.
There’s nothing unusual about June’s slow uptake. If you’re like most people, you have no idea how much you are loved. But you are, and I can prove it.
Aisha and I were at Yerba Buena Gardens listening to the Dafnis Prieto sextet, a fabulous Cuban jazz group. The concert was on the lawn; the day was sunny and cool, my favorite weather. The band featured a trumpet, sax and trombone along with keyboard, bass, and Prieto on a huge drum and percussion set. They make a lot of sound, polyrhythmic and soaring.
“I feel lost,” Margaret told us. “My family acts like they don’t want to be bothered with me. It’s like I’m alone.” Her grief poured out in an increasing wave. She had started talking softly about her brother’s recent death, then others who had died. She looked at the floor; she talked faster and started to cry.
The Inn by the Healing Path: Stories on the Road to Wellness Book 1: Never Alone is short but powerful, with six healing stories plus discussion and self-help questions. Please sample the first 30% for free, buy ($2.99,) write a review, tell your friends, share on FaceBook and other media. See my author profile. Like my FB page for inspirational and challenging messages once or twice a week.
“Don’t cling to things. Consider your property something that the universe (whatever you conceive that to be) has bestowed on you temporarily. Keep in mind that it can recoup this (and more) in the blink of an eye.” Rolf Dobelli, The Art of Thinking Clearly
Dobelli was writing about an economic quirk called the Endowment Effect. We tend to value things more highly when we own them. We don’t want to part with them, which can lead to bad investment decisions. His saying also reflects a spiritual truth. The Sufis say, “You have many endowments which are yours only in trust. When you understand this, you can give them to the rightful owners.”
Learning this wisdom can change people’s lives, as it did for Bishop William Greg Valentine of San Francisco. Valentine is Senior Pastor of St. Paul’s Tabernacle Baptist Church in the Bayview District. Last month, a group of us from Jewish Voice for Peace joined the community in repairing the church after an attack by vandals, who had destroyed pews and carpets and spray painted walls with racist graffiti. While the work went on, Pastor Valentine told us a story.
Alan is a Lutheran minister who goes to a meditation class with me in San Francisco. He’s about 60 years old but looks 40, tall and straight with sandy hair and a relaxed way with sweaters. He started meditating four years ago and spends over an hour a day sitting. He has a Blog on Blogger, which is mostly about religious and spiritual questions.
At one class, Alan looked tired. “I haven’t been sleeping well,’ he said when I asked him. “For two nights I’ve had a vivid dream. In the dream, I’ve been called to testify on behalf of the human race before a committee in space. They are like an intergalactic nonprofit that goes around saving planets in trouble. Apparently, there are a lot of needy planets, so you have to show them your people are worthy.”
“Do not confuse value with permanence.” – Irvin Yalom
Charlie Jane Anders hosts the Writers with Drinks literary events every month at San Francisco’s Make Out Room. The dimly lit club drips with streamers, glitter, a jumble of art work and animal imagery, like Christmas on an acid trip.
Five or six writers perform at each event, but most people don’t come to hear them. They’re there for Charlie Jane. Her introductions of each segment and of each writer careen wildly through time, space, and dimensions unnamed. She’s funny; she’s bizarre; she awakens thoughts and emotions in listeners even though we can’t understand what she’s talking about much of the time.
I thought her intros would make great written pieces or video. Longtime Writers with Drinks fans assure me, though, that they wouldn’t work in those forms. They’re not meant for stasis or posterity; they are of a specific time, place, and mood. Part of their power is their immediacy, and part of it is Charlie Jane’s presence. Without those, the words themselves wouldn’t mean much to a listener. An animatronic figure of Charlie Jane performing one of her monologues might be exhibited for 10,000 years in an extraterrestrial museum, but few would go to see it. It would just be a curiosity, whereas for one night, the real Charlie Jane is spectacular.