Sadness Books Friends

<<a re-post, from January 2013>>

I’m a little sad today. It’s a challenging life, isn’t it??

There are some sorrows that seem to sort of just linger below the surface.

& there are 1 or 2 things in my life right now that I would change, if I had a magic wand.

(There is A LOT in the world I would wave it over, & change, if I had one. To put it mildly. Yegods.)

& I have a good life. A grand one, even.

But today, this morning, I was sad.

So I plucked 2 favourite books off the shelf

(my life is pretty much about people-people-people & books-books-books)

I picked up Unattended Sorrow – Recovering from Loss and Reviving the Heart, a Stephen Levine treasure I once posted about here, & read the first 2 chapters, & it was a great comfort to my sorrowing soul.

Then I picked up Broken Open – How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow, by Elizabeth Lesser, looking for a particular line in one of her stories, & of course landed instead at ‘For Hugo’ (a perennial favourite), & oh my oh my oh my

How this story

& Lesser’s insights

& her compassion

blew me right of the water (the way they always do)

I have a lot of literal friends (living, breathing, busy, awesome people) & dearly loved family members who mean everything in the world to me

& work that will last me a lifetime

... but I couldn’t manage life without these other “friends”

The writers who speak to me

& who seem, miraculously, to understand me, even though we’ve never met

Whose wisdom & compassion & generosity of spirit run so deep, it’s as though they’re an ocean wide enough for every single one of us to swim in.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, to Stephen Levine & Elizabeth Lesser & Rachel Naomi Remen & Pema Chödrön & Anne Lamott, & others whose names I am forgetting right now.


So. I still have a bit of a lump around my throat (I don’t cry very easily, dammit).

But I know now, I’ve been reminded, that I am not alone

Stephen Levine has given me compassion for myself

& Elizabeth Lesser has reminded me that just “showing up” is right at the top of the list of what life needs from us, & that “we are sent here to love each other and to help each other – that our lives are about each other.” That “all of my ideas about life meant nothing; the experience of being alive with those that I loved – that meant everything.”

Yes. Yes, yes, yes.


Thank you, Elizabeth Lesser, for those words & for the whole incomparable essay & book.

Onward ho,


p.s. Lesser goes on after the words quoted above to quote Thomas Merton, monk & social activist, who “once said that as he grew older he came to understand that it was not ideas that change the world but simple gestures of love given to the people around you, and often to those you feel most at odds with. He said that in order to save the world you must serve the people in your life. ‘You gradually struggle less and less for an idea,’ Merton wrote, ‘and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything.’”

p.p.s. & goloptious thanks to my dear friend Ms. P – who introduced both of these books to me!  

p.p.p.s. & here is a lovely, utterly relevant quotation I had not yet encountered when I posted this the first time around:

"4 Rules for Life

  • Show up.
  • Pay attention.
  • Tell the truth.
  • Don’t be attached to the results." – Angeles Arrien, U.S. teacher, author (1940 – ) 

'Quote of the Day' with this post: “Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith.” – Margaret Shepherd

Music … & Rumi

So, oddly (yes, I myself find it odd), I don’t listen to music very often. (I'm a person who quite enjoys silence. Truthfully, I seem to REQUIRE considerable silence, & solitude.)

But the other day I got listening to a bunch of great songs, & here they are.

You can enjoy them, & so can I, any time I want to come back to this post.


John Adorney’s 'Comme Le Vent' (from his CD 'The Fountain')

The lyrics:

Si tu connais la verité  (if you know the truth)

Tu trouveras la liberté (you will discover freedom)

Et tu sera libre comme le vent (and you will be free like the wind)


Si tu connais la verité (if you know the truth)

Tu trouveras la liberté (you will discover freedom)

Et tu sera libre tous le temp (you will be free all the time)

comme le vent (like the wind)


These lyrics resonate for me, 100%. I know a lot of ugly truths. But I do believe the truth sets us free. I really, really do.

** & also truthfully, this whole CD is a treasure. If I’m feeling down, I can put it on, & as soon as the first bars of the first song come on (it’s called ‘Safe Haven’), my spirits lift (even soar!) but immediately.


Supertramp: 'Crime of the Century'

I much prefer the version I have on an old CD to this on-line version from a live show. But … I am unable to play my CD version for you here.

I was a big Supertramp fan for many-many years. Used to own all their albums. Yup. Vinyl. Still bummed I parted with them. Ah well. C’est la vie, hmmmm? #LifeGoesOn

Btw, the entire album/CD was bloody brilliant. Lyrics just as insightful, hard-hitting & bang on, in all the songs, as ever. These guys sure saw the world – way back when – for what it was. & is. & the way it’s going. Clear vision, I’d say. Dark. & true.


Loreena McKennit - 'Beneath a Phyrgian Sky'

This amazing song, from her ‘An Ancient Muse’ CD, gives me shivers. First time I heard it, years ago now? I cried. Sobbed, maybe even. Soooooo beautiful.

I looked at the notes that came with the CD. & found this brilliant Rumi poem:

“Oh brother. Wisdom is pouring into you

From the beloved saint of God.

You’ve only borrowed it.

Although the house of your heart

Is lit from the inside

That light is lent by a luminous neighbour

Give thanks; Don’t be arrogant or vain

Pay attention without self-importance.

It’s sad that this borrowed state

Has put religious communities

Far from religious communion.” – Jalaluddin Rumi, 13th century Persian poet




Then I went & found these, & listened:

'By the Rivers Dark' - Leonard Cohen

'If it Be Your Will' – Leonard Cohen & the Webb sisters


Then …. one of my favourite pieces of music in the whole world, ever:

'The Moonlight Sonata' - Beethoven

I have a fun personal story about this wonderful piece of music.

I was house-sitting at a friend’s lovely home

on Chalk Lake, near Uxbridge, Ontario

(about a million years ago, now…)

It was hot & humid (extremely so)

& my teen-age daughter,

who had worked a long shift at a very hot pizza restaurant in Port Perry that night

came back from work

& wanted to have a nighttime swim to cool off her very hot self.


We went outside

(I am getting a shiver as I relate this)

& there was a full moon shining out over the lake

& the sounds of the Moonlight Sonata

were playing

(shivers, shivers)

Whoa. The type of experience that only happens to you once in a lifetime.

Never to be forgotten.

Never to be repeated.


:) :) :)


Back to the other day...

Then I found, by the grace of whatever deity to which you subscribe (or simply the grace of YouTube) this amazing piece by Beethoven.

Simply sublime…


** quotes about truth

** quotes about gratitude

The Big Picture

Frontenac Park lake scene.JPG

Seeing “the big picture”

makes your life bigger


It expands it

(I think)


Refusing to see the big picture

Insisting on being anchored & connected only to

your own “little” life


Makes your life shrink


I think.


p.s. but, uh, not just your life, exactly. Your soul. Your spirit.

You know?


Couple Relevant Quotes:

“You know of the disease in Central Africa called sleeping sickness…. There also exists a sleeping sickness of the soul. Its most dangerous aspect is that one is unaware of its coming. That is why you have to be careful. As soon as you notice the slightest sign of indifference, the moment you become aware of the loss of a certain seriousness, of longing, of enthusiasm and zest, take it as a warning. You should realize your soul suffers if you live superficially.” – Albert Schweitzer

“When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge.” – Tuli Kupferberg

“The heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe.” – Joanna Macy