The Life Line of Nature
Do you believe everything happens for a reason? I do. Unfortunately, the reason may not be clear until some time has passed. However, sometimes, the reason is immediately clear.
This last Sunday, my darling husband and I were curled up on the sofa quietly sipping our coffee and trying to watch CBS Sunday Morning. I say trying because we don't have cable. We watch TV with a digital antenna which means, depending on the weather and how we hold our tongues, the picture may digitize from a little to quite a lot. Most of the time when the digitization is really bad, we give up and head over to Pandora for some calming music. Sometimes, we don't even try to watch CBS Sunday Morning as, most of the time, it's just not the same without the pure journalistic integrity and recognizable voice of it's founder, Charles Kuralt. However, this morning was different.
After channel surfing a bit, we arrived at CBS Sunday Morning featuring an interesting story about a new Netflix documentary based on the discovery of some long-lost film of a handicapped kid's camp and the impact some of those kids, as adults, had on the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Another good story focused on the taped diaries of Lady Bird Johnson. In between these frustratingly digitized stories ran one presented by Correspondent David Pogue about a toy company couple, Melissa and Doug Bernstein, founders of the very successful toy company, Melissa & Doug. Well, the first few minutes was about the couple, but then the story shifted to Melissa. As her story unfolded, I listened more intently. The words coming from her mouth were so familiar to me. They were words that are spoken in my head almost daily and only out loud to my darling husband.
As I sat on the couch watching the story with tears silently streaming down my face, my darling husband looked over at me and asked, "How does this make you feel?" He knew. He knew it was speaking to my soul. It was pricking holes in my carefully crafted façade letting the pain slowly ooze out. Sweet Maddie, in her empath way, picked up on the energy and came over to snuggle up to me to lick the tears from my chin. Melissa's words, "It's so exhausting having to live a lie," rang painfully true. Despite the vast incongruity of our lives, I felt a deep connection to this woman.
You see, Melissa wasn't talking about a subject that would elicit happy tears. Well, not initially. Initially, she was making statements like "From my earliest recollections, I felt like I didn't belong here on Earth and that something was profoundly wrong deep within my being....I felt utter despair." She went on to describe the bottle of pills that she kept in her pocket every day during her college years just incase the pain "got too intense." Despite all the things for which she has to be happy and thankful, and, believe me, she has more than most of us, at some point she still felt she needed an escape route. I really couldn't believe that someone so very successful would go on TV and make such deeply personal revelations. But, there was a reason.
Throughout the whole story, there wasn't one episode of digitization. The message came in crystal clear.
After giving some backstory, the piece shifted to Melissa's new book, "LifeLines: An Inspirational Journey From Profound Darkness to Radiant Light" and the corresponding online site, called LifeLines. During the conversation, Pogue mentions the "compulsion these days" to show, via social media, how wonderful our lives are. My darling husband cast a glance my way. His glance said, "See?" I know what he was thinking. That's a point I made in my blog. I'd recently voiced my doubts to him about the necessity of my blog. Yes, it's new. No, it may not speak to everyone. Dang! It takes some time and effort. But, as I'd written, if it helps "just one person" then it's worthwhile. Yet, I was still wondering if anyone at all was reading it, let alone getting anything out of it. My darling husband had already recognized the parallels and the depth of the message. After the piece ended, he reminded me of the purpose of my blog and encouraged me to check out the website, adding, "You should blog about this!"
When I finally took a look at the LifeLines site, I was amazed. Reading the first "mission statement" on the website lets you know you're in for something different. "Other wellness brands promise you’ll feel better with quick-fix products and immediate solutions. We created LifeLines because we think those promises are the problem. Believing you need to feel “better” gets in the way of feeling everything and accepting all feelings as part of who you are." The site is presented in a wonderful way, crafted much like a journey with a section entitled, "the Hike" and with tools like backpacks, compasses, etc. One of the things that immediately resonated with me was the nature theme. In her video when speaking about her book, Melissa states that her nature photos are "one of my lifelines which has kept me safe and sane through a lot of darkness." I find that so relatable, as nature photography has become one of my life lines...a major one at that. Likewise in my blog, I chose to voice a similar message that it's not all perfect Instagram moments but that's okay, and YOU'RE NOT ALONE.
Despite the enormity of the project, everything the LifeLines program offers, with the exception of the book, is FREE. The program is completely funded through the generous resources of this very successful couple. Pogue mentions that fact during the end of the interview, basically asking why they do this for the sake of people they don't even know. Doug answers, "We do know them...they are Melissa. And they are everyone who feels the way Melissa has felt in her life."
I'm looking forward to exploring this newly found path while continuing to build my "melancholy" base camp. I hope you'll take a some time to check out the website. It is a beautiful work of art. And, perhaps, it's just the life line you need at this particular point in your life. I'm off to buy a book!
"Today I saved a life although it was my very own. Which won't serve a greater purpose till I rescue lives unknown." - Melissa Bernstein