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Sat Nov 22, 2014, 02:15 PM

Speaking with Igjugarjuk

“The only true wisdom lives far from mankind, out in the great loneliness, and it can be reached only through suffering. Privation and suffering alone can open the mind of a person to all that is hidden from others.”
-- Igjugarjuk; Eskimo shaman; 1922.


A couple nights ago, I was on the internet site “Face Book,” when one of my cousins asked if it was okay if she called me. She is much younger than I am, and lives in a different part of the country. Two months ago, we had the opportunity to talk on the phone, and get to know one another. So I was happy to have another chance to talk with her. (She called at 9:45 pm, and we talked until a little past 2:30 am.)

She was aware that, on the “other side” of my family, my cousin and his son had been shot. We talked about that, and another murder case from Binghamton, NY, from years ago. A 12-year old girl was collecting on her paper route; a sociopath, James Wales, invited her to step inside his home while he got the money. You can guess the rest. Currently, the girl’s parents are petitioning the parole board, requesting that Wales not be paroled.

My cousin, who lived in the area at that time, had had her life changed by that event. Her father (my uncle) was the detective who solved the murder of her young friend. She had contacted the girl’s parents earlier in the day, to offer support in lobbying the parole board. The father told her that I had sent a powerful letter of support earlier in the day. Although I had been employed in a different county, my work at the mental health clinic had an area of overlap with that case; my letter to the parole board detailed why the murderer would always pose a threat to the community if released.

We talked about the ways in which people respond to tragic events. I told her that I try to be thankful for what life deals me. She said that she was going to “call the ‘bullshit card’,” as it was not possible to be thankful for a friend or relative being murdered. I agreed that I am not thankful for such a thing. Rather, when confronted with such a horrible events, I am thankful for the opportunity I had to know the person. I’m thankful for having had that relationship to enrich my life. And I’m thankful that I have the chance to be supportive of others, who are going through the pain and suffering from their loss.

We also discussed the concept of forgiveness. Not some sappy type of emotion. But she and I come from a large extended family, and there are some members who don’t get along. And people who hold grudges as if they are a treasured family heirloom, long after the memory of what ever caused the hostility has faded. Maybe it’s that way in lots of American families these days. But I have a hunch that Irish-American clans hold the national championship for such things. There are advantages to be accrued, I told her, in letting go of these conflicts.

Again, my Wonderful Cousin called the “bullshit card” -- for she knew that I have family members who I have not spoken with in many years. So I told her a story -- a true story that is a bit humorous, though pathetic: Last year, I encountered an old friend, a man I had not seen in over twenty years. After we talked for a bit, he said, “You’re a hard man to get a hold of.” He had tried, perhaps a decade earlier, by calling my mother’s house. My mother told him that I had died, and hung up. He felt terrible, so bad that he tracked down one of my sisters. He told her that he felt horrible, that he surely would have attended my funeral, had he but known.

My sister explained that I was still actually alive, and “dead” only to our mother. My friend asked her how to get in touch with me? She said that she didn’t know, as we hadn’t communicated in over a decade.

“Forgiving” doesn’t translate into being close to the other person. Rather, it means divesting in the acrimonious feelings that hold one back in life. It means accepting that the other person is who s/he is, and moving forward from there. There are some family members that you may have a cyclical relationship with, and others where it is best to simply let go of. My cousin said, “But that’s hard ….” I replied, “It isn’t harder than continuing an unhealthy relationship.”

Family feuds are anchors that hold us in dark and bitter places. Acceptance allows us to move forward, and to re-define what “family” means. Our society’s current family systems have only been in place for a very short period of human history. They are a reaction to our economic system, which seeks to dictate the boundaries of human relationships. (Agricultural societies = extended farm families; industrial = nuclear; high-tech = single parent/ blended.) Do not allow the plastic definitions dictate your options.

Again, we discussed how hard it can be, especially when those with whom we should be close turn against us for reasons that we don’t understand. Yet, it is more difficult to hold on to those wounds. We benefit from accepting life on life’s terms. And when circumstances bring us to that great loneliness, we benefit from looking inside, rather than outside of ourselves. It’s only that which can allow us to begin to heal, and return to our attempt to make our lives as normal as possible.

Tomorrow afternoon, I’ll be spending time with the maternal side of my extended family. My cousin who was shot on 10-27 was in the hospital when his son’s funeral was held. So we are having a memorial service and meal, with about 125 people. Luckily -- as far as I know -- I get along well with all of them. I’m hoping that it will be the last funeral-type of gathering that I have to attend.

Peace,
H2O Man

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Reply Speaking with Igjugarjuk (Original post)
H2O Man Nov 2014 OP
Octafish Nov 2014 #1
Thor_MN Nov 2014 #2
lovemydog Nov 2014 #3
hedgehog Nov 2014 #4
Hekate Nov 2014 #5

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Nov 22, 2014, 04:05 PM

1. The Suffering to Enlightenment



One doesn't have to understand the ancient and mystic ways to see: Suffering leads to Empathy. And that is what is required for strangers to care for one another, more than any law, mores or moral code. It is learned, usually first imparted by parents and family.

We all are tied together by the existence we share, by this universe we experience together. With that understanding of hunger and cold and infinite loss and unending pain comes pity. And the heart with pity is the person who effects good actions toward others.

When one has been through a lot, it shows. In the face, on the hands and from the scars, from what is spoken, but most from what is done. And one who knows that each human life has infinite value, also realizes that we are fortunate indeed -- blessed, actually -- to be part of that multiverse.

If love can conquer fear, what else can it do?

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Nov 22, 2014, 04:21 PM

2. You are very wise.

 

I am sorry for what you and yours have gone through, but I am thankful for reading what you have posted over the last weeks. Better if you had never had the occasion to make those posts.

I do hope that it is the last funeral-type of gathering that you attend for some time.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Nov 22, 2014, 04:37 PM

3. My dear cousins just lost their son.

He was 29 and suffered from bipolar disorder. Single car accident. I saw them last week. I'm going to call them, thanks to reading your post. I love talking on the phone with people who are hurting in some way or another. It makes me more empathetic. And I think it will be good for us to share some talk. Thanks for posting this H2O Man.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Nov 22, 2014, 04:52 PM

4. Irish Alzheimer's - you forget everyting but the grudges

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Nov 22, 2014, 07:38 PM

5. Yes

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