Thursday, August 14, 2014

Is Everything All Right?

Since I last blogged I have run 6.1 and 5.7 miles easy and an 8 mile progression workout.  Four days.  Three runs.  Adding 19.8 miles so that I stand at 1348 total and continue west on US 400/US 54 in Kansas.

Over the time since I last blogged things have gotten worse in Ferguson MO after an 18 year old who was unarmed was shot and killed by a police officer.  The American involvement in Iraq continues to get deeper again.  Some are already referring to it as the third American War in Iraq in the last 25 years.  The violence in Baltimore at all times of day and in some neighborhoods not used to violence continues.  And Robin Williams was found dead--having committed suicide.  

There has been an enormous amount written about Robin Williams.  This is one of the first stars whom I think of as having been brilliant in so many contexts that I have watched over the years to have died an early death.

He suffered from clinical depression.  He fought drug and alcohol addictions.  He is now said to have been diagnosed the Parkinson's.  That could contribute to or exacerbate the depression.  He had so much going for him.  He had some much going against him.

What I think of most is how man people--even those who were lucky enough to know this brilliant comedian well--were surprised by what happened.

It is a reminder that despite my being told that appearances matter in life, appearances are NOT everything.

It is a reminder that appearances can hide feelings.  Deep feelings.  Dark feelings.  Hurt feelings.  Feelings that are overwhelming.  Feelings that seem so incongruent with success.  Feelings that can lead a person to feel like there is so little reason to live that the choice of death seems preferable.

It is a reminder that I might never know who among my family, friends, and colleagues is feeling this way.

That is scary.  

Some people are in their own world that is separate from the rest of reality, despite being so physically close.

It makes me think of a statement made by my friend Travis when I was running with Travis and Lauren on Sunday (the day on which I ran more miles before 8 AM than I have run total in the last four days).  As we were running along the brick promenade toward the Inner Harbor we looked back to the east and saw the silhouette of a crane standing majestically on the end of an abandoned pier separated from us by overgrown vegetation.  (That actually sounds to me like it might be a great start to a novel...I'll have to think about that.)  

The key is that we coudl see the crane.  We were no more than 75 yards from the crane.  If we had stayed at the start of the overgrown vegetation we would have been no more than 30 yards from the crane.  The crane could see us if it cared to look.  But as it stood there looking majestic (and presumably looking for breakfast in the water), it was essentially in a different world from the three of us running.  It was in its own world.  Was that world as confused and troubled as the world of someone with clincial depression and Parkinson's?  Of course not.  But it was sufficiently different that we had absolutely no understanding of it.  No knowledge.  No insight.  And we could not predict at all what the bird was thinking or what its next step would be.

That separation from me in an animal meant to live in the wild is fine.  If I am ever that separated from an individual in my life about whom I care deeply, I will be worried.  The ksy is that people who are suffering from clinical depression may be sufficiently in their own world that my understanding is truly limited.  My ability to help is truly limited.  I assure my friends--if you need someone to talk to, don't hesitate.  Sometimes I am so busy I don't know whether I could live up to that.  Sometimes life is so full it would be hard to fit in the time to live up to that.  But I want the offer to stand.  And several friends have shared deeply personal issues with me.  But I hope that I am never the one who has to ask myself, "What if?"  What is I had made sure to be closer?  To get closer?  To stay closer?  To make sure that the risk of feeling so far away from others and so overwhelmed that death was better than life was minimized.  

That is my goal.  Would I ever approach the crane?  No--it is meant to be left alone.  But if a friend or family member or colleague is like the crane--separated and in their own world--my job is to go to them and ask, "Is everything all right."   

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