The news last week, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, both taking their very valuable lives has hit me and many of my friends and family very hard. Such a loss for the world, as is any life taken tragically. I just got off the phone with Kevin Warden, good friend and fellow Ubuntu board member. We shared how Anthony’s suicide hit us both hard as he seemed to be loving life, extremely fulfilled in his career and truly living into his life’s purpose while also being celebrated by the world. We dug into some of our own struggles and bouts with feeling depressed, lost at times and in need. Kevin shared how Anthony’s death has lit a fire under his ass as it serves as a reminder of how valuable and precious life is. For me it has acted as a weight pulling at my heart, a painful reminder of how success and the appearance of fulfillment cannot, in fact, always bring life satisfaction. I guess things like this impact us all in very different ways. The important thing is to make sure we give it the space and time to feel and share how it is impacting us with the people that we trust and love.
I had the opportunity of being with two of my closest friends, David Lannon and Steve Wanta, while all of this happened last week. We take a trip each year self entitled, Beers Big Ideas, as we use this time to explore the big ideas within and around us and always over good beer. We’ve traveled across Africa, through Central America, the streets of Detroit, a BBi bachelor party in LA, we’ve rolled the dice and randomly flew to Nashville not knowing where to next which ended up being a journey through the south learning from the big ideas that birthed rock n roll. This year was more of a journey inward adventuring through the deserts of New Mexico, visiting Christ in the Desert Monastery, the home of Georgia O’Keeffe, we walked a labyrinth, swam in a lake and got deep talking about where each of us are in our lives: professionally, emotionally, spiritually and mentally.
This trip could not have been more timely as these two tragic deaths have been swirling in my heart and mind leaving me feeling at a loss. How can two people with such power, prestige and overall life fulfillment want to end their lives? I’ve struggled with depression and know what it means to feel empty, to wonder what this life is all about, and have asked myself on numerous occasions, “what’s the point?” Keep in mind I’m also a priest, who believes and feels deeply Christs presence within my soul, I have a loving family and a great group of friends. I have great job satisfaction, but the struggle is very real and the issues we are tackling at Ubuntu are heavy. All of this said, my life is a good one, but I still struggle at times feeling lost, empty and uncertain what life is all about.
The powerful reminder these deaths served for me is that we should never forget what pain can be behind the smiles of our colleagues, our friends and our family members. Life is beautiful. Life is also fucking hard. There are school shootings on the regular, America is extremely divided and the very mention of “Trump” sucks the life out of most conversations. We’re all energy. We’re all fragile beings from God trying to figure it all out. AND…we need each other. We need each other really really badly. In a world where our faces are constantly glued to computer screens and smartphones spraying the latest news of the minute, often tragic, sends all kinds of ripples impacting the state of our minds, our hearts and souls.
During my conversation with Kevin just now he said something I really loved. He said, “I think we forget that the brain is just an organ, like our hearts, our stomachs, etc. It’s important to understand that mental illness is also a result of how we treat our brains…what we feed it, how we nurture it, what we tell it.” It’s so true! Our brains are organs that run the programs and data that we feed it. So important to feed our brains love, to remind them that they are not alone. I know this is so true for my own brain and my own heart. I constantly need reminding that it’s all going to be ok. That I am loved and that my life has value.
I’m writing this post as much for me as I hope it’s also helpful for you. There is so much pulling us apart out there today. More distracting us from our true feelings, our true selves than anything else. Let’s love each other more authentically. Let’s have the courage to be vulnerable and hug that person before they hug us. Let’s reach out for help before it’s too late. It’s never too late to tell someone you love that you do in fact love them…and need them.