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R new war…It’s more than I can stand

anne lamott on robin williams

This will not be well written or contain any answers or be very charming. I won’t be able to proof read it It is about times like today when the abyss is visible and we cannot buy cute area rugs at IKEA to truck out the abyss. Our brother Robin fell into it yesterday. We are all staring at the abyss today.

I called my Jesuit friend the day after the shootings in Newtown, stunned, flat, fixated, scared to death: “Is there any meaning in the deaths of twenty 5 and 6 year old children?”

Tom said, “Not yet.”

And there is no meaning in Robin’s death, except as it sheds light on our common humanity, as his life did. But I’ve learned that there can be meaning without things making sense.

Here is what is true: a third of the people you adore and admire in the world and in your families have severe mental illness and/or addiction. I sure do. I have both. And you still love me. You help hold me up. I try to help hold you up. Half of the people I love most have both; and so do most of the artists who have changed and redeemed me, given me life. Most of us are still here, healing slowly and imperfectly. Some days are way too long.

And I hate that, I want to say. I would much prefer that God have a magic wand, and not just a raggedy love army of helpers. Mr. Roger’s mother told him when he was a boy, and a tragedy was unfolding that seemed to defy meaning, “Look to the helpers.” That is the secret of life, for Robin’s family, for you and me.

I knew that those children at Sandy Hook were caught in God’s loving maternal arms at the second each crossed over, and the teachers were, too. I believe the shooter was too, another child of God with severe mental illness, because God loves, period. But this is controversial.

I know Robin was caught too, in both the arms of God, and of his mother, Laurie.

I knew them both when I was coming up, in Tiburon. He lived three blocks away on Paradise drive. His family had money; ours didn’t. But we were in the same boat–scared, shy, with terrible self esteem and grandiosity. If you have a genetic predisposition towards mental problems and addiction, as Robin and I did, life here feels like you were just left off here one day, with no instruction manual, and no idea of what you were supposed to do; how to fit in; how to find a day’s relief from the anxiety, how to keep your beloved alive; how to stay one step ahead of abyss.

We all thought after Newtown that gun control legislation would be passed, but no–not one new law. We think in the aftermath of Robin’s death that there will be consciousness raising about mental health, but I doubt it. The shock and awe will pass, like it did after Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death. Unless…unless we take action. But what? I don’t have a clue. Well, here’s Glenn Close’s astonishing organization to raise awareness and diminish the stigma of mental illness, where you can give OR receive help: http://www.bringchange2mind.org/ Go there, OK?

In Newtown, as in all barbarity and suffering, in Robin’s death, on Mount Sinjar, in the Ebola towns, the streets of India’s ghettos, and our own, we see Christ crucified. I don’t mean that in a nice, Christian-y way. I mean that in the most ultimate human and existential way. The temptation is to say, as cute little believers sometimes do, Oh it will all make sense someday. The thing is, it may not. We still sit with scared, dying people; we get the thirsty drinks of water.

This was at theologian Fred Buechner blog today: “It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling.”

Live stories worth telling! Stop hitting the snooze button. Try not to squander your life on meaningless, multi-tasking bullshit. I would shake you and me but Robin is shaking us now.

Get help. I did. Be a resurrection story, in the wild non-denominational sense. I am.

If you need to stop drinking or drugging, I can tell you this: you will be surrounded by arms of love like you have never, not once, imagined. This help will be available twenty/seven. Can you imagine that in this dark scary screwed up world, that I can promise you this? That we will never be closed, if you need us?

Gravity yanks us down, even a man as stunning in every way as Robin. We need a lot of help getting back up. And even with our battered banged up tool boxes and aching backs, we can help others get up, even when for them to do so seems impossible or at least beyond imagining. Or if it can’t be done, we can sit with them on the ground, in the abyss, in solidarity. You know how I always say that laughter is carbonated holiness? Well, Robin was the
ultimate proof of that, and bubbles are spirit made visible.
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from the president

Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien – but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit. He made us laugh. He made us cry. He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most – from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets. The Obama family offers our condolences to Robin’s family, his friends, and everyone who found their voice and their verse thanks to Robin Williams.

a friends poem – moved me so

Ok I have run away
For the day
Into town
Away from Dad’s frown

Now to examine myself
Am I insane?
Dad will drive me there
Even if I am not
Smother me
With his ridiculous accusations

My world is a dream
That is a problem
But it’s bordering on reality
So I hope
So I believe
Which is where the problem lies
I do actually believe
In this dream world

I do believe
In illogical things
That could be diagnosed as madness

I am ashamed
Of what I have come to believe in:
SPIRITUALITY
Because it is not as I have been programmed
Because it is an alien world to my parents
And my family

I am addicted
To Music
I am addicted
To Spirituality
I am addicted
To Love
I am addicted
To Art
I am addicted
To the Beauty of Soul
Is this so strange?
Is this worthy
Of Psychological Analysis
Psychiatric Help?
Is this wrong?
Should I be condemned
To an institution for this?

The only right way to live
According to my father’s directives
And ingrained beliefs
Generations of handed down doctrines:
Academic success is Life

I disagree
For me
It doesn’t fully fit
It leaves something unanswered in me
It leaves me dissatisfied
To believe in education/university
As survival, as real life
As healthy living

I have my faults
My mind is very open
But is that a fault?
I embrace life
In every shape and form
And wrap myself in it
I am very impressionable
I am devoted to Natural Things
Thus I am completely misunderstood
Especially by my father
It is this struggle
That I am left here today
Fighting for my right to be free
To be let live in this world
Until I find
The direction
I wish to go
And succeed in living
And not to be sent to a shrink

It is demeaning
To be thought of
As a fucked up being
As mentally unstable
I do not believe it myself anymore
But sometimes
It’s hard not to
When your own father
Smothers and suffocates you with such thoughts

I am fighting
The pains of a programmed upbringing
As everybody does to degrees
My fault may lie
In doing this a little more than others
But I do it
Because I am able to

Life is a struggle
If I didn’t get depressed or low
And disillusioned
From time to time
Then I am not human

By sending me to a psychiatrist Dad
You are showing me a lack of respect
You are demeaning me as a person
Who I consider to be a qualified human being

Before this
I was half afraid
I may be mad
But now
I believe I am not
To diagnose me as mad
Would be doing a tyrannical injustice
It could be compared to
Committing Jews to a concentration camp
The most recognised injustice

Father
I have lost respect for you
Because you are showing me little
By treating me as you do
You are hurting me
Brainwashing me with your negative thoughts
To create inferior ripples within me
That I have to exorcise
With tears
Every time

I can not talk to you
Because YOU are not going to change
All you can ever do
Is accept me as I am
Someone you can’t fully relate to
The thing is you don’t need to

All you need to do is
Accept me
Love me as much as you can
And stop frowning on me
Just because
I molded myself away from your
Conditioned idea of approaching life

I know
That there are things you understand
About spirituality and psychology etc.
But you do not feel them
The difference lies forever there
It is just the way we are
No one is to blame for this
Everyone is unique
Call me a black sheep
But I’d prefer to think of myself
As a rainbow sheep

I have many colors
And not few
I use my many colors
And not my few
I use what I have been given
In my thoughts and in my actions
In my apparently “dull” lifestyle

The cold frustration returns
Cos although it is a frantic effort
To achieve your understanding
I know I never will
Some questions can’t be answered
Some answers can’t be worded
They lie as knowledge
Not necessarily wisdom
But as a “knowing”

Not everything is black and white
Dad
Some things have many colors
They cannot be termed as just one

Dad
Our conflict
Lies in the difference
Between the logical world
And the natural world
I am in both
You are in the logical
And see the natural
I am in the natural
And the logical
I FEEL

You question me
You question everything I do
Unjustly and unnecessarily

I am not happy
At home
When you make me feel
Like a disappointment
By your vibes
By questioning my every move
Or apparent lack of movement

Lack of money
Is another reason
I seem unmotivated
If I had more money
I could do “productive” things

You do not understand
The GUILT factor
That money is in my life

How money is spoken about at home
The pain of taking ANY
Even for my birthday
Was incredibly painful

I felt guilty
Like I do not deserve any money
Any freedom
Any enjoyment
You make me feel unworthy
Not just of money
But of a gift

Your letter
Made me cry
Because you just reinforced
Your feelings of ongoing disappointment in me
Making me feel still inferior and unloved

I know you care for me
But you don’t love me
Because you can’t allow yourself to
Or you won’t love me
You won’t accept me
For who I am

Accept me now for who I am
That’s all I ask
And even if you can’t
I shall prove myself
A worthy, successful individual
Whether you believe it or not

I am not destroying myself
I am not killing myself
I am not subconsciously
Plotting my suicide
I am not MAD
I should not be considered a disappointment
That is not fair to treat me like that

I am HUMAN

So ALL I ask for is your respect
And for you to try to accept me
And love me a little more.

THE INTERNET’S OWN BOY

an amazingly touching and informative documentary
now available to watch on line
i am happy to have been a small part
of this kickstarter project

http://www.takepart.com/internets-own-boy

THE INTERNETS OWN BOY

“…everyone one was trying to explain it in their own way
but i had never seen the internet grieving in its own way

at no time in his childhood – did arron have mood swings
or what i would describe as severe depression

we r standing in a middle of our time
when grave injustice is not touched
where the architects of the financial meltdown
have dinner with the president nightly

in the middle of that time
the idea that THIS was what the government
the prosecuteor
its absurd

aaron is dead
wanderers in this crazy world
we have lost a mentor , a wise elder
Hackers for right, we r one down
we have lost one of our own
nurturers, carers listeners
feeders – parents all
we have lost a child
let us all weep…”

butterflies

my font size is growing
i can’t figure out how 2 get the whole mac
to casual 24 …
aint that always the case

all my kids r home
5 together for the first time
in the new florida house
heaven still

on the beach turtles lay eggs
nightly
and we watch them
with special infra red lights

miraculous every time

the dolphins have gotten used to us
“HERE BOY BOY – HI BABY I LOVE U”
they come close again
thrilling me so

i need new glasses
these can’t do it anymore
as i bob and weave to find
the right spot on the bottom third

USA lost yet won
fitting
lets see if we can go
where none believes we can

mish and i ate with r new neighbors
bob and rita
sincere silly saintly seniors
who make me yearn for parents

ones who kiss me goodnight
with a twinkle in their eye
that says i love u
without having to

we went to a drum circle
where we saw women butterflies
bald sun gods
and lost souls found

home
here it feels like home
peaceful surrender
at last

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BARBRA !!!!

simply the best

when tweets become news

new-moan-ya isn’t fun at all
it sounded like a bunch of lonely kittens
were living in my lungs
aching to escape

a new anti biotic
LEVOFLOXACIN
changed my world
in 48 hours

a week in bed 2 catch up
on shows i missed
or hadn’t ever seen
like LINDSAY

i watched only one episode
LL looking lost – late for work
again and again
scared suffering – surrounded by sycophants

broke my heart in many ways
a long island girl – so familiar
with a mom my age
fighting a disease that too often wins

while the world watches
this is now entertainment – celeb/reality tv
anna nicole and whitney
a slurring paula abdul

we r asked to watch but not see
what is right in front of r eyes
to nod in complicity
as everyone braces for impact

i tweeted the show was a tragedy
“an event causing great suffering, destruction, and distress”
thats what it felt like to me
start to finish

i wish only for lindsays healing
for sobriety that will serve her so
for a calming of all demons that plague her
for stillness inside her soul

i have compassion for the little girl i see
beneath the designer duds
one that could use a safe place to land
maybe for the first time in her life

john legend

“All Of Me”

What would I do without your smart mouth?
Drawing me in, and you kicking me out
You’ve got my head spinning, no kidding, I can’t pin you down
What’s going on in that beautiful mind
I’m on your magical mystery ride
And I’m so dizzy, don’t know what hit me, but I’ll be alright

My head’s under water
But I’m breathing fine
You’re crazy and I’m out of my mind

‘Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I’ll give my all to you
You’re my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I’m winning
‘Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all of you, oh

How many times do I have to tell you
Even when you’re crying you’re beautiful too
The world is beating you down, I’m around through every mood
You’re my downfall, you’re my muse
My worst distraction, my rhythm and blues
I can’t stop singing, it’s ringing, in my head for you

My head’s under water
But I’m breathing fine
You’re crazy and I’m out of my mind

‘Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I’ll give my all to you
You’re my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I’m winning
‘Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all of you, oh

Give me all of you
Cards on the table, we’re both showing hearts
Risking it all, though it’s hard

‘Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I’ll give my all to you
You’re my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I’m winning
‘Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all of you

I give you all of me
And you give me all of you, oh

crying – by JANE FONDA

Yesterday I went to a friend’s baby shower. I hadn’t seen her since she was pregnant and when I saw her belly and her radiant face I began to cry. When I heard the words of wisdom her mother offered to her–to all of us–about how to raise a baby to be a happy, fully realized, person. I started crying again (and it wasn’t because I wanted to go back and redo the raising of my own kids all over again with more wisdom, though that did press in on me) . . . it was because her words moved me.

I’ve been in New York for the last five days workshopping Eve Ensler’s new play, OPC (Obsessive Political Correctness). Workshopping means actors reading the play, with a director to guide us, so the author can see what works, what needs changing, in the hope that, in time, the play will be performed for a mass audience. The afternoon of the last day, Friday, we performed for a small audience. The play is funny, very funny. A woman (me) wants to run for political office and launches a campaign. Her young daughter (Zoe Kazan) is a freegan, someone who buys nothing, who pays no rent but squats, who eats perfectly good but bruised, day-old food she finds in garbage bins. Freeganism is, in fact, an actual, real movement. The mother worries that her daughter’s eccentricities will hurt her campaign. The girl makes her mother a dress out of apricot, the kind that comes all rolled flat in cellophane like what we put in our kids’ school lunches The mother wears it for her campaign announcement and, in defense of her daughter, says proudly that it’s a reflection of the girl’s environmentalism, “Eat What You Wear” so to speak. The dresses become a humungous hit and start being mass produced in a variety of flavors but people wear them with diamonds and fur which is antithetical to what her daughter intended. With all its humor, the play has some profoundly important things to say about how we humans are destroying the planet with our greed and our waste and how we can/should be living differently. I started crying during my last speech when I tell my daughter what it feels like being in office, being taken seriously and I thank her for helping me and during the daughter’s final monologue about the species that are going extinct and oceans rising and what’s we human are doing to the planet I started crying and couldn’t stop and had to tilt me head back so people wouldn’t see. When the play was over I took Eve in my arms and sobbed for many minutes.

A few days, Roy Teeluk, who does me hair in New York, showed me “Ashes and Snow,” a book of photographs by Gregory Colbert (that is also a film made by him), photographs of elephants sitting with, praying with, bowing with, sleeping with young indian boys and other pictures of people swimming with whales. They are staggeringly beautiful and, again, I cried. Two days ago Gloria Steinem, in an email, told me that “. . . in Cherokee the word for “butterfly” and “elephant” is the same–because of the ears.” She went on to say, ” I wondered how the Cherokee knew that, since there are no elephants on this continent. But we all came from Africa–maybe it’s cellular memory” . . . and Tears came to my eyes.
I can no longer watch news stories or look at photos that show the killing of animals for greed. There was a TV story about the Japanese rounding up dolphins and killing them for food. I got ill. Can’t stomach it–literally.
I’m just mentioning a few of the many times in the last weeks and months that I have cried and it’s got me thinking: how come my tears are so close to the surface? How come pretty things, kind deeds, sad stories, acts of courage, good news, someone’s flax of insight, all get me crying or, at least, tearing up? The Fondas have always been cryers. My father once said, “Fondas cry at a good steak.” My son and daughter are the same. But I find my emotions are way more accessible than they were when I was younger and I’ve come to feel it has to do with age. I have become so wonderfully, terribly aware of time, of how little of it I have left; how much of it is behind me, and everything becomes so precious. With age, I am able to appreciate the beauty in small things more than when I was younger perhaps because I pay attention more. I feel myself becoming part of everything, as if I bleed into other people’s joy and pain. Maybe, without my being conscious of it, there’s the reality that in a few decades (if I’m lucky) I will be in the earth, fertilizing some of the very things I look at now and tear up over. (I’m not going to be cremated, uses up too much energy and gives off too many toxins, nor do I want to be in a coffin. Just dump me in a hole and let me morph into whatever as quickly as possible.) I ache for unwanted children in the world, for polars bears, and elephants, whales and Monarch butterflies, and dolphins, gorillas and chimpanzees. I remember reading once that biologist E.O. Wilson said something like, “God granted the gift of intelligence to the wrong species.” I’m paraphrasing but he explained, intelligence should have been granted to dolphins, for example, an animal with a brain who plays and is smart but has no thumbs and is not a carnivore.
I’ve listed sad things but what startles me even more is how I get emotional about nice things, like Kerry Washington’s belly and her mother’s words of wisdom and Elizabeth Lesser telling me about the new book she’s writing. Maybe because I’m older my heart is wider open, like a net that wants to catch all the things that matter. The first time I heard Jungian analyst and author, Marion Woodman speak, I went up to her afterwards and burst into tears. She took me in her arms and said, “It means your soul was touched.” Heart, soul . . . I don’t know which is which.. I suppose they’re the same basic thing and mine is/are so wide open I have to only wear waterproof mascara from now on.