Archives For Life

When someone so well-loved, widely regarded, respected, and talented as Robin Williams was passes on it’s like losing a friend. Or a family member. This is someone who came into our homes week after week, who we visited at the cineplex, who was in the news.

So it hits hard.

Doubly so, and especially for those of is who grew up watching Mr. Williams’s work, because it reminds us of stark naked reality: if someone so rich, successful, and nearly universally loved as Williams was can die, so can we all.

We are not immune to death’s call. So far as I know there’s but one way to enter this world (birth), and though it take a myriad forms, one way to leave it:

Death.

As the story of Williams’s death broke we all felt you chill winds of mortality blow over our souls. Wealth, success, fame, power, regard are no antidote. While wealth may buy us extra time, it’s no guarantee. The late Steve Jobs was a billionaire, was able to extemd his life by a few years, yet still he had to pay the boatman.

Death, as Shakespeare said, is the “undiscovered country, from whose borne no traveler returns.” Even those of us who are Christians don’t know what awaits us on the other side. We have the Bible, and we have hope. But none of, despite claims to the contrary, has actually crossed over, seen what lies in that far country, and come back to report our findings.

It doesn’t work that way. God generally does not, as much as we wish it, gives us foreknowledge of our own ends. He teaches is instead to number our days, to live as if He were coming back, indeed to live as if each day was our last.

Because we never know. It could be a car accident, a plane crash, a heart attack, a tumor, or any number of things which could lay each one of us low. The only think I know that is sure, upon which I have staked my life, is this:

“He that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. He that lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

That’s what it comes down to, friends:

Faith, and

Trust

Where are you placing yours? Knowing that this one life you’ve been given here upon this earth will end, where–in whom–are you placing your faith, your trust?

Your (eternal) life depends upon it.

This post was occasioned by the Crash Synchroblog.

Apparently, I have been impacted by the death of beloved celebrities long before I knew what a celebrity was. You see, as a toddler I’m told I watched Bonanza with my parents. I wasn’t yet three years old when Dan Blocker (“Hoss”) died, and I’m told I cried. Many artists, actors, writers, performers have died since that day in May, 1973; I can’t say that I’ve again reacted with open weeping.

But I have felt profound sadness, even melancholy. When someone with whom I had spent many happy hours leaves this life behind I’m not untouched. The late Douglas Adams, with his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books, made me laugh. Made me think. When he died–after a workout at the age of forty-nine, thirteen years ago this past May–it touched me more deeply than I would have supposed. I suppose it’s because I knew his work, had as I said above, spent many a happy hour reading of Arthur Dent’s galaxy-spanning adventures, busting a gut all the while.

Adams’s light had gone out.

I felt the same when I heard Robert Jordan had succumbed to cardiac amyloidosis in September of 2007. I had spent hours, days, months reading his Wheel of Time books. Though I didn’t know the man, it felt like an old friend had passed beyond mortal realms and into the undiscovered country (from whose borne no traveler returns).

I felt it again yesterday upon hearing the news of Robin Williams’s passing. I grew up watching Mork and Mindy, saw The World According to Garp in the theater, enjoyed Mrs. Doubtfire (“It was a run-by fruiting!”). Essentially, I had grown up with him. He was with me from childhood to marriage to childrearing. I was able to share his work with my children: Toys, Jumanji, the Night at the Museum movies.

Now his light, after a lifelong struggle with depression, has gone out of the world. I’m not going to disparage his struggles, but neither will I romanticize his death: suicide is never the answer, folks. Life is a gift, and is worth holding onto even thought it may appear all light has gone out of it. Because, even as dark as things may seem, there is at least the promise of dawn. Maybe I don’t understand at all clinical depression, and have never personally been deep down that dark rabbit hole. That’s as may be. I guess what I’m saying is: why now? After beating back his demons for 63 years, what made the man decide not to fight on (having slain those dragons before). What made him despair of living?

Maybe we’ll never know.

What I do know is that his legacy will live on through his work, and that he is being widely memorialized with words, and scenes, from his best know roles: Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting, and Good Morning Vietnam. As iconic as those are, I’d like to leave you with this scene from 1984’s Moscow on the Hudson:

Good night, Robin Williams. When you said, in Bloomingdale’s, that you “vant to defecht” none of us knew that it would be this soon.

Time Off

randomlychad  —  August 6, 2014 — 2 Comments

I’m taking time off work this week to spend some time with my family before the school year gets into full swing. There wasn’t a plan–we didn’t map out the week’s activities.

Not to say we haven’t done anything; we have. It’s just that, tied to schedules as we are: church, small group, who’s got ballet, who’s sleeping over, getting to work, etc… It feels good to pause. Like a break in the action of a particularly intense thriller, or the quiet after a dramatic scene in a book (like Gandalf falling into the chasm at Kazad Düm), we needed a break.

Time to catch our collective breaths, time to pause, take stock.

A time free from rote routine.

I think that’s a good thing. We, all of us, can only push so hard at life before it pushes back, and the stresses of demands, obligations, schedules threaten to overwhelm us.

It’s nice to take time, and simply do nothing. Face life without a map, or even a compass, and just enjoy it. I, of course, write this from a place of calm and comfort. My holiday will end, back to work I’ll go, and the kids will be back in school.

I hope to take just enough of the calm with me to carry me through. Because I think the point of mountaintops isn’t to live there (having summited Everest, none may abide in that place), but rather to take enough of mountain back into the valleys with us. <-- That is the art and skill of life well-lived, friends.

Now: how do we make it reality?

Changes

randomlychad  —  August 2, 2014 — 3 Comments

I’m not one to do things by half measures. I’m, like most men, sort of binary like that. I either don’t workout at all, or (like now) I’ve joined a gym, and am working out days per week.

It’s all about changes, really. I see my body changing, my energy flagging, and my waistline expanding. Time was, I didn’t have to do anything about it. I could eat what I wanted.

But the carefree days of youth are gone–replaced by sobering reality:

Things cannot continue as they have been. It’s time that childish ways were put behind me (while simultaneously keeping my childlike sense of wonder intact). I think about the future, about being there for my family…

It’s about far more than just exercise–as important as that is. It’s about setting an example, about leaving a legacy. To that end, while I’m exercising the self-discipline to condition my body, I’m also involved in counseling. Because I want to discipline my soul. I want to free myself from the wrong ways I’ve handled things.

I want to set an example for my family that continues long after I’m gone.

I want to finish strong.

So I work, and strive, now to build not just a better body, but a better soul. For it was for freedom that Christ set us free. I don’t want to continue to be entangled in the negative influences, and patterns, that have shaped me until now. It’s time to let that go.

I’ve learned something along the way I’d like to pass onto you:

It’s not enough to just let something (bad, negative, hurtful, sinful) go; no, else we risk leaving a void.

We have to replace those former things with something good, uplifting, holy.

You see, I’m making a lot of changes lately. I’m tearing down one house in order to build it upon a better foundation.

Changes.

Are there any you need to make?

A Word About Men

randomlychad  —  July 23, 2014 — 5 Comments

Men are people. People have feelings. As such, we have feelings, too. We are not out to get you. Just having a penis doesn’t make one:

Bad

The enemy

An abuser

A potential rapist

It’s not our fault that your childhood was tough, or that male figures in your past abused their positions of authority, or violated your trust.

It’s not fair to view us all through the crap-stained lens of your past.

Just as you do, we have our own struggles, our baggage, our own stories to contend with. If you prick us, we will bleed. If you try to shoehorn us into a role to accommodate your worldview, we’re not going to take it very well.

We, having feelings–minds, hearts, opinions–of our own probably won’t take it very well. We might get loud.

This is not abuse, or bullying: this is usually the cry of a hurting heart. Yes, we may be bigger than you, stronger than you, louder than you… this still doesn’t make us the big, scary, nasty man out to get you. It’s a sign of hurt, of pain, of confusion.

If you accuse us unfairly, we will get defensive. It’s human nature.

Being men doesn’t make us demons.

So stop demonizing us for for our gender, for your past abusive relationships.

And let us love you.

That’s what our strength is for.