On December 26, 2015, I felt great empathy and sadness upon learning about the death of 28-yr old Marine Sgt. Tristan Clinger. After a long six days missing, his wife, parents, siblings, and three young children, along with a host of comrades, friends, extended family, and complete strangers, learned of his fate. I worked with his father a retired Master Gunnery Sergeant. My prayer for him was simply "Lord have mercy and bring you peace".
After a reported bout of depression, the thought of the military finding out about his struggle perhaps proved too much to bear. Being a combat veteran, I can certainly see how and why he may have wanted to keep this from his chain of command. In today's military, service members and veterans are encouraged to come forward and seek mental health for PTSD and other mental illnesses, but there is still much more work to be done as evidenced by the rate of military suicides. Every day over 22 Veterans and 1 Active Duty Soldier take their own lives.
The idea of deliberately smothering the life given to you is seemingly incomprehensible to those who have not had suicidal thoughts before but then in a very present and real moment, it happens and cannot be undone. Is it the fear of feeling small and insignificant or the thought that we are no longer needed on this earth that causes the abandonment of the desire to live? The pain must become truly too much to bear. The suicide earlier this year of Cara Miller along with the dialogues I had with two other military members who were suicidal this year made me think that the thought of suicide when it comes is subtle but then it becomes the only thought. I may never know or understand but these experiences more broadly have enhanced my understanding of the human bond. We are all connected. We are one. I heard Jimmy Carter say that "on a cosmic scale, we are all in the same boat."
As I encounter people on a daily basis, I want to be a game changer. I want to change the trajectory of people's lives in a positive direction or enable people to maintain the positive track they are already on. Certainly as a parent, I think a lot about the trajectory I am sending my son on. A small act now could result in much larger impact for years to come. I want to make people feel bright inside. What if we all did this? In the profound words of Sydney Long, may we keep other safe from their darkness with our love.
We have all had experiences where our actions have been misinterpreted by others.
If our intentions were honest, there is little value still in defending ourselves because this still leaves the other person feeling dissatisfied. We all want to believe that what is inside is the only real thing. I am reminded of the old saying that "perception is reality". The trouble is that both the intention and the perception are real.
We see the outside, not the inside of people. The most relevant part of ourselves remains a mystery to all who encounter us. If we are not self-aware, we may also find that our true self is mysterious. When the inside is shared, it is still sometimes not fully shared. Therefore, most of us do our best to maneuver through life keeping the balance between intentions and perceptions.
In the book The Pocket Chogyam Trungpa, the gift of fearlessness is described as a type of generosity. The gift of fearlessness is defined as reassuring others and teaching them that they do not have to feel completely tormented and freaked out about their existence. It is aiding others in seeing the basic goodness that exists in the world and aiding others in realizing that there is a way to sustain their life. I am reminded of people that I know that believe that their existence is continuously morphed in a negative manner by their surroundings and circumstances.
The truth is that to exist fearlessly, we have to be willing to see ourselves. Do you look at yourself directly? Do you know yourself? Are you afraid of seeing yourself? Do you exist in comfortable frameworks as a method to avoid self exploration? What frameworks allow you to “safely exist” without truly facing yourself?
In this moment, I face the side of myself that has struggled to manage my finances, the side of myself that sabotaged romantic relationships of mine and others, and the side of myself that has struggled to be fully engaged as a mother. Have you struggled in these areas too?
In my writing, I will often explore and admit parts of myself that are seemingly embarrassing. People often ask why I write about those embarrassing moments. When you do question these admissions, I would challenge you to tell me some part of yourself that you are embarrassed to admit. Use my admissions to generate bravery and courage within yourself to study who you really are. Unfold your habitual patterns that surround the lies you tell others about yourself. When you do this, you will begin to feel relieved. When you have faced the reality of life, you can start moving forward instead of moving in unproductive and lie-based perpetuity that has served you no good.
Now, I still believe that as humans, we all have a fundamental state of goodness within and we should certainly work to project this. I certainly see and appreciate the sense of goodness that emanates from so many areas of the universe. At the same time, we should not be condemned for our desires for the most part. But let us go BEYOND our fear and this is what is described as fearlessness.
Certainly everyone wants you to be extraordinary, but it is good to be okay with being ordinary. Accept yourself just as you are and then use your imperfections as you progress and improve. Make them part of the journey.
Today, I give you the gift of fearlessness. Do not fear. Do not doubt. Do be courageous. Seek out an inner circle that gives you this gift so you can study your truths in a safe environment and move forward in a positive direction.
It was the Christmas season in 2015. I was part of a Facebook group called No Excuse Moms. In this particular group, women cheer each other on when they are struggling, surviving or thriving. It is so important to possess the capability to lift people up no matter where they are in their life and I am working to become better at this.
I happened to read a comment to a main post that spoke to me. I immediately felt compelled to take action. A mother was expressing her worry about not being able to get her children anything for Christmas so I asked her to please contact me because I wanted to help.
My offer brought this mother to tears and through Facebook messenger, the woman described some items that her children - a 13 year old boy and 8 year old boy - might be interested in. Now if they are anything like my 9 year old boy, they must get the items they want otherwise the world will end. As a mother, I can relate to the desire to please my child and to see the smile that comes when you give a child a gift. The thought of not being able to do this scared the mother. My offer gave her the courage to ask her boys what they wanted because now she had hope and faith that they may actually receive the items.
What was she feeling? Hopelessness. She told me a story of a gentleman that comes to the restaurant she works at. Every time, before he leaves, he picks a table and pays for the meal. When she asked why he did this, he said simply to give people hope.
I immediately went to Amazon and placed an order for a skateboard, football, two video games, an Uno game, a soccer ball, and a nice bracelet for mom. Two days later, the items had already started to arrive.
When you are in a position to give hope, grab the opportunity. My generosity allowed the mother to feel blessed and allowed her to rest at night. She relayed to me that she now had a "renewed spirit" and "peace of mind". My act of kindness gave her "the strength to push on".
I appreciated greatly that this mother had the courage to answer my offer to help and that she allowed me to be generous in creating a moment of joy for her family. She said to me "I believe God sent you to me right when I needed a blessing so much. I appreciate you."
Technology can help us to perform great acts. You may complain about social media, but it allowed me to reach a complete stranger in Florida and offer help. You may complain about Amazon but it allowed me to rapidly deploy gifts to a family in need during a holiday season. My intention was simply to transfer the spirit of hope, generosity, and renewal to a mother in need. Answer the call to help, and use all tools in your possession to achieve these simple acts of compassion that can change the trajectory of the human spirit for we are all connected near and afar.
I was watching an older film called Love Actually and a quote stuck with me – “If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.” I began to think about whether this was actually true. The movie inferred that love did not have to be pointed directly at us for us to experience it.
I experienced something very positive in a trip to Sheffield, England in 2015. I noticed that in most conversations with family and strangers alike, sentences ended in the words of endearment such as “love” or “dear” or “sweetheart” or “darling”. I found that the simple and regular use of these terms of endearment completely and positively changed my opinion of the interaction and my subsequent response.
We could benefit from being a casual observer of love. If we can become aware of the acts of love happening all around us, we could actually become more loving ourselves. What do you think? Is there some merit to this thought?
Some ways that love is expressed around you are through expressions of affection, gratitude, generosity, kindness, forgiveness. Make a habit of smiling when you recognize love. Love can be a lifelong experience involving everything around you. At a basic level and with utmost respect and recognition of humanity, love is not just reserved for our children, spouses, family, and friends. Once we learn to recognize the signs and expressions of love all around us, we can move from being a casual observer to being a participant.
It is the ultimate form of love to believe in others’ potential, celebrate their successes, be their advocates and to treat them with kindness. We can only consistently do this if we deliberately remove our anxieties, resentments and stresses so we do not consciously or unconsciously pass them on to others. We must also remove the preconception that everyone must change themselves to come into alignment with our personal preferences. Why do we have to look at people with the idea that they need to change SOMETHING or the sense that they need to agree with us on everything? Will you be personally affected if most people change nothing at all around you or would both parties be happier in the presence of genuine acceptance?
How can you authentically illuminate others? Well, you must truly believe that your encounters with others are love or a call for love. If you look for it, you’ll find that love is all around. When you recognize it, you become connected to it. Let love be your connection to others.
Ms. Bhakti Mary
I am an optimistic, positive, generous and driven author who is passionate about self-improvement.
The essence of who you are does not lie in the past. What matters is what you are willing to do NOW. You are the presence.