of the attempted suicide of a friend’s husband, which led me to my
point of caring about each other and offering each other a kind word
or a moment or two of our time as we go through life, since that very
thing — if in fact it had been aimed at my friend’s husband — might
have saved him from thoughts of total despair and his subsequent
(thank goodness unsuccessful) act to end his life.
But some despair, we would all have to agree, may be so deep-rooted
that perhaps even kind words and caring moments of time from anyone
would not be enough to do the job that might or might not have worked
weeks or even days before that. (If such would have been the case, and
we didn’t give the kind words or the caring moments in a timely
fashion, we might not ever know.) But we can also agree that very
possibly we are the person who is there, in some stranger’s life, at
some “random” moment when such a kind word or act of caring could be
that person’s saving grace.
Not all lives are filled with roses and rainbows. Not all
relationships are sunny and bright. Yet as brothers and sisters under
the skin — that is, members of the same human family — we know the
kinds of things that cause humans pain and stress and despair, and we
know that every time we might have been in that kind of space, how
good we would have felt to have someone show they cared.
Anyway, several people mentioned they thought my New Year’s
“greeting,” as it were, was too dark or somber. Those who read my
columns know I do not dwell on the “dark side” of life, nor do I write
about problems or pain without pointing out what might be called the
good that could come from them — and that is NOT to say that all
disaster leads to some good, or that all good needs to come from some
When we suffer some physical pain or loss, we sure as heck feel it.
But sometimes we may not feel or recognize the greater pain or loss
that lies beneath it, making itself known in many almost invisible
ways. For example (and I will not mention names), if a woman put all
her stock in her beauty, not bothering with such things as values and
lasting qualities, and then she was somehow disfigured — perhaps in an
accident or fire — on the outside, and to the world, it looks like a
horrible tragedy in which one could find no good. Yet if that was the
very thing that brought her to a new awareness of what is important in
life, and she could share that with her family and friends and even
strangers at large, who is to say that it would have been better for
her if she had never lost her beauty? She apparently needed to pass
through the fire, so to speak, to find the value in her life. Only
those who would choose to continue valuing only the physical would
choose to continue focusing on the “tragedy” and ignore the good that
Life is nothing if it is not change. And change can be sudden, drawn
out over many years, expected or unexpected, wanted or unwanted,
recognized or even unrecognized. But change is the key word. We either
go forward, or we decay. We cannot stay exactly as we are for long.
When poverty leads to learning the value of nonmaterial things like
sharing, caring, and love; when loss leads to learning the value of
compassion, understanding, and fortitude in spite of it all; and when
disaster or tragedy leads to learning the value of life itself, or
what having faith really feels like, the person so blessed with
learning those lessons would most likely not choose to remove the
teacher and either remain in his ongoing unenlightened world of
ignorance, or aspire to such a world, which often brings nothing but
stress, anger, resentment, selfishness, jealousy, greed, stress,
stress and more stress… until very possibly all the “good things” of
his life can no longer save his sanity or give him joy and peace,
leading him instead to the despair that he didn’t even know was being
caused by his own particular viewpoint of life.
When someone wishes you a good morning, or a happy day, accepting the
greeting and even pondering what it would mean to you, personally, to
have such a good and/or happy day can even help make it happen. Have
you ever noticed if you feel happy at all throughout your day?
Remember that everyone has something that is heavy on their shoulders
(or could be, if they felt it as such), and consider whether you
really want to add to that heaviness or not.
Everything in life is not all roses and rainbows. We can acknowledge
our own particular misery if it exists — no sense living in denial —
yet still remember that even roses have thorns and that we need the
rain to get to see those amazing rainbows. That will not mean anything
to some people, but for those who get the message, it all comes back
to being and remaining a part of our one human family and not letting
any lesson go to waste.
Right now there is intense suffering going on in the heart and soul of
someone we might know. Sometimes all we can give is a hand on their
shoulder, a nod, or a slight understanding smile that means, “Hang in
there! My thoughts and prayers are with you!”
Life itself is bigger than any one episode in any one person’s life.
Yet it is that episode that means something to that person right now.
We’ve all been there. Let’s remember how it felt and offer our version
of a rose or a rainbow to those living in their very own personal
garden of thorns, in the middle of a storm.
* * * * *
Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She
writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email
her at firstname.lastname@example.org.