These past few weeks have been a whirlwind. The world’s been spinning on it’s axis at regular speed but it’s felt like warped speed to me. Since the start of July – we haven’t stopped. East coast road trips, New York visits and returning to San Diego with immediate guests, the invasion of Comic-Con and more guests on the way – needless to say it’s been a bit busy. But busy doesn’t prevent perspective nor impede wisdom from those you truly wish to ‘see’.
At the same time of the first world ‘busy’ and joyful choice of travel and visiting with loved ones, news of another kind entered our world. The teacher of one of my wisest yoga instructors passed away suddenly, shaking an international community to its core. This man of wisdom, talent and grace who has touched my life through writings, meditation apps and Sarah’s teachings – this man who helped so many thousands find their own way, himself struggled with mental illness. Michael Stone shared his knowledge of psychotherapy, yoga and Buddhism and fostered a world-wide community of followers he met and ones he never will. All of a sudden, the world seemed quieter.
“To the world you may be one person; but to one person you may be the world” -Dr. Seuss
Loss is difficult on all levels. Trying to explain how someone you never met impacted your life often seems to fall on a spectrum of ‘how can you be sad’ or ‘you never even knew him’. Unfortunately, I am like millions of others who have dealt with loss of loved ones and those close to them and although losing this ‘stranger’ is on a completely different plane, it’s not any less real. Loss hurts. Sadness happens. Hearts break for loved ones going through massive, tragic changes and for those around them who want to do something yet know there’s nothing that can make this moment hurt any less. The pain is palpable.
And then there was Ari. The courageous, witty, brave, spunky, vivacious warrior I never met who put a smile on my face whenever his name crossed my screen. This child of a university friend touched the lives of thousands across the globe. His arrival into the world wasn’t easy, was fraught with danger and life through him curve balls even before he was smacking them out of the park as one of the biggest baseball fans around. He was the pinnacle of a fighter. Somehow, this kid whose heart needed replacing actually had a spirit that was larger than all of ours combined. This tough as nails Red Sox fan filled with courage, wit, wisdom, grace and fierce love for his family and teams – this little stranger changed lives. His and his family’s struggle with waiting for a heart for over 200 days (spending 180+ in the hospital), losing their house to mold and having insurance give them NOTHING for it, finally getting a new heart (while fully acknowledging the loss and gift of the family who would help theirs) and the thrill of going home was shared the world over. He met some of his biggest idols, played in the yard, hugged his siblings, went to the golf course with dad and loved his family fiercely – and after stealing hearts around the globe, he took a turn for the worse and in the words of his parents’ social media posting ‘passed away peacefully…listening to the Red Sox’.
“If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.” – Piglet
This tiny person who I never met reminded me of that elusive perspective, growth, journey and struggle. From stories of his parents, friends and those who loved him, the world knew he dreamed big, loved fiercely and had the courage of the bravest warriors. In his short time, he made a huge impact. His optimism, fighting spirit, zest for life and calm demeanor reminds us all of the important things in life. His struggles were real from the get go but they didn’t stop him nor his parents from helping him to live his best life, shine with the brightest of lights, share his whole heart and soul and find tenacity of strength when much seemed lost.
I’ve been on a journey of searching for perspective for quite some time. Call it growth, seeking or whatever you will, but I’ve found myself interacting with people, writings and things I never would have before – the universe seems to be doing her thing and smacking me in the face with whatever she feels necessary. I’ve always believed that people come into our lives for a reason, even if the reason is one we never know.
“We touch other people’s lives simply by existing” – JK Rowling
This weekend, San Diego swelled with passionate people doing their Comic-Con thing and being present in the moment. This last month I got the opportunity to hang with close friends, see new things and hug family. Yet these two individuals (whose constant struggle never seemed to divert their spirit), these two individuals I never got the pleasure of meeting, tugged at my heart in ways I never expected. Seeking never gets old. Trying to be the you you’d like to be today is a journey that has twists, turns, stops, starts, crashes, weaving winding madness and always seems to change direction. I am devastated for the families and close circles of these two lives cut short. Since learning of their stories, they have been on my mind (and the minds of many) constantly. Michael and Ari have taught me lessons filled with grit, heart and wisdom. If only for a short time, I couldn’t be happier to have ‘known’ them.
Tears have flowed around the world and although I know the world will continue to spin on it’s axis, for awhile, it feels like that axis is off kilter and won’t be the same again. It’s painful to realize that nothing’s guaranteed; but, we can do our best to be present, be awake and seek that silver lining. Young and old we can all make a difference. These strangers have taught me lessons of which I will keep always. Their presence is felt and their lessons and love live on in all they’ve touched. We may not be family, we may not have ever met, but I will never forget them.
“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same” – Flavia Weedin
Lessons from significant strangers
Cheer for your teams with immense passion
Have courage of the bravest warriors
Keep the faith
Cherish family and friends
Remember to be a kid
Any opportunity you get to play – take it!
Share your story
Ask for help
Try to keep a calm demeanor
Treat people equally
Look towards the future
Live in the moment
Share your sparkle
Be the light
The public social media pages of each of these special people have further information on how to help. If you choose – send words of love, monetary donations or acts of kindness. The little boy with the giant spirit was helped by the most generous gift of organ donation – if it’s a way you’d like to help someone else – please do so. Above all, remember their lessons, perspective, choice, attitude and light – you can never know someone else’s battles, but you can always, always be kind.
Thank you for the lessons. I will remember you – always.