With so many well-known ‘greats’ leaving this mortal coil, it gives us pause to consider our own mortality. I was probably a bit glib in my reply to a caller who was concerned about the health of a mutual friend. She reminded me that his condition was terminal and my retort was that at our age we are all terminal and the way our friend was living his life was admirable as he is genuine in his determination to make the most of each moment.
After all that’s all that any of us can do and we have no idea about what is happening in the lives of others. I was taken by a quote in Face Book this morning, ““Do not judge my life by the chapter you walked in on.” We have walked into the chapters of some well-known people and have presumed to know all about them, so this morning, having an unusual amount of spare time, I decided to do some research. I watched some revealing interviews, including a painful Oprah interview with Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds who have both so recently left us. I had adored Debbie in my teenage years and wished I could live her life. Now I realise how lucky I was that I didn’t. In fact, I wouldn’t trade with any of the ‘greats’ that we hear so much about.
I learnt a while ago that there is a difference between surviving and being victorious. Most of us at our age have survived many things and there are others who have achieved victory over the blows that life has dealt them. I saw Carrie and her mother as survivors but the pain that emanated from them in this interview gave me the impression that they had not achieved victory over what they had been presented with. For them the pain is over and they have left a valuable ongoing legacy.
A few weeks ago, I felt privileged to meet Yai, one of the ‘Lost boys of Sudan’ following the viewing of an emotive film, “The Good Lie” which is based on their story. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the theatre and we all went away with a better understanding of some of the atrocities that these boys have endured. It was hard to conceive that any of them survived, yet there was Yai, so serene, as he spoke of his plans for the future. As I looked into his eyes, I saw some pain, but he has achieved much personal victory. His pain is now about how humanity can be so inhumane even in our land where we have been so fortunate. The judgments that are made by viewing his people in the chapter in their life where they are attempting to adjust to one so alien to them. We may appear to be benevolent but we are still a racist country and it appears that many people, who would rather be in their own environment, have needed to flee to safety, only to be plunged into an unsafe environment without adequate understanding or support. It makes me feel so sad and yet I am encouraged by the fact that there are many others who feel as I do. Yai’s book, “Under a Sudanese Star” is well worth a read and the proceeds go towards his “Journey of Hope”.
My passion is to look past the chapters in the lives of others and to assist them to step into a future where they can honour themselves and others.