Thursday, October 29, 2009

It's All Good?

I have a confession to make. There is a phrase people are using that is causing the hair to stand up on the back of my neck. I realize that by confessing this it may mean that I am not cool or even, God forbid, "evolved." But to tell you the honest truth, I rankle when I hear the expression "It's all good."

Granted, I know that good comes out of the most awful things and I realize that there is good in everything somewhere. But I have to tell you that I do not FEEL the "ALL GOOD"-ness of life all the time. There are times when I feel the stab-you-in-the-heart pain of life and do you know something? It hurts. There are times when being a human "being" on this planet is hard to bear whether we are watching a loved one die, breaking up with a partner, losing a home, career, savings, health, a limb, a child, a sibling, friend or parent, or standing helplessly by as a loved one suffers.

As humans we have the capacity to experience both exquisite joy as well as acute pain. And when the experience is painful I do not connect so easily with the "all good" part. The expression "It's all good" is capable of shutting down the lines of communication that potentially offer comfort and an opportunity to share in another's challenge by extending solace and love. There are times when I feel as a culture we may need to create the space in life where crying in pain would be as acceptable as rolling with laughter. We need to be cautious not to encourage attitudes that deem inappropriate sorrow and pain. Mourning loss and expressing grief is part of what weaves the thread of connection between us. It is part of what being a human is all about. Feeling sadness and grief is normal and healing in itself. The dark and lonely journey into grief and mourning many times leads us to a crystallized understanding of what we value in our life. Grief, mourning and sadness can "unmuddy" the waters, peeling away the facades we have created to numb us to life.

Thinking about grief and mourning conjured up for me images of the past when people wore mourning bands and widows dressed in black. I recalled a scene in Frank Capra's classic film "It's a Wonderful Life" where George Bailey is reluctantly taking over the management of the Savings and Loan after his father died. He was wearing a black mourning band on his suit. There was a time when the sorrowful passing of life and the grief it generated was acknowledged and honored. 

Do I think that we should walk around with signs on our bodies of what emotions we are experiencing? Maybe not. But I do think that we need to allow space for the acceptance of pain in our life and in the lives of others. Yes I do. We are on a journey of expansion and a journey of love. There will be times in our lives when we will learn to love more through grief and through the pain of life.

There I said it. I do not like the expression "It's all good." While writing this I wondered, "What would I like to say instead?" I have come up with an answer but welcome yours as well. I would say, "I am searching for the good." That frees me up to be present in my experience but also acknowledges the hope and possibility that better will come. I expect it always. 

Today I value the feelings that flow through me. I see the richness in all of life and I bend with tenderness and caring toward those who are suffering and in need of love.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Most everyone knows the character "Pigpen" from the Peanuts comic strip by Charles Schulz. I love his character because he is so oblivious to how he affects others and I love his laid back attitude. While I enjoyed "Pigpen" in the comic strip meeting a true "Pigpen" in life is entirely another story.

I recently ran into a female version of Pigpen while waiting to board a plane back to Florida. The flight was delayed by 20 minutes. The boarding style was cattle-like but most passengers were taking it in stride except one very vocal woman. She slammed her bottled water down on the table as she plopped in the chair beside me. She pushed her chair so hard that the table shook. She ranted that she was accustomed to being in the lounge and having a glass of wine! She would never fly THIS airline again! I watched with a detached curiosity that turned into compassion. She was a female "Pigpen". Her aura was full of negativity, yet unlike Pigpen whose aura was just filled with dirt, she was spreading and arc of anger contaminating the very air within six feet of her. As I listened I wondered what kind of a life this woman had. It seemed to me that whatever her world consisted of it was apparent that she was full of fear and exaggerated drama.
I looked around and saw people with many bigger issues in their lives quietly waiting to board the plane while the woman went about flinging her negativity all around just hoping someone would engage with her in a festival of self-righteous complaining.
I thought about the times I have been upset and self-righteous. I thought about drama and how so many of us thrive on it. I thought about inner peace and actually felt some of it as I showered this woman with detached compassion. She was so sad and so self-involved. Some days I achieve the goal of holding a loving attitude no matter how many Pigpens are around and I admit some days are better than others. I quietly thanked the woman in my heart for showing me once again the cloud of negativity that we spread when we create drama around situations that we cannot control. And I renewed my ever-present desire to bring peace to my life through my intentions rather than living my life ruled by reactions.

Today I choose to create inner peace and harmony by accepting the ups and downs of life and viewing life through eyes of compassion and love.