Not too long ago, I spent the afternoon celebrating the Marine Corps with friends. Our friend has been a Marine for the last 20 years. He is retiring. It is bittersweet as the Marines are his tribe and his family’s tribe. Tribes are very hard to walk away from…especially since they know you like no one else knows you because you have been through things that no one else has been through. It is always inspiring to be at a Marine celebration. It’s as if you get to be reminded of what is important. Because I don’t put my life on the line every day, I take for granted what these guys and gals don’t…that life is a gift and every day that they get to spend with each other in celebration is a major moment that should be celebrated. Not just a get-together…ho, hum…no biggie...but you can feel the emotion of importance and respectfulness of life and gratitude for the day given.
At the same exact time, a dear friend of mine was putting on a funeral…for her mother. An unexpected death following what was supposed to be a routine surgery. Because we were in California, I was unable to be there but thought and prayed for her all day and it was not lost on me that she was going through the same striking awareness that life is a gift every day and she was also feeling the emotion and importance of respecting life and death and the gratitude for every day given.
When you put your life on the line or are staring the pain of death in the face, you suddenly have a clarity to the importance of tribes, family, love, and gratitude that must of us lull ourselves into the background noise of recognition.
I also thought about my own children, my own family tribe, and how I could impart to them in a more real way to embrace and hold close in their minds and hearts how to look at life with the clarity and awareness that both my friends were living this weekend. To be mindful of our resilience and our ability to forgive life even when it punches you in the stomach with pain. Because there is one thing in life that we will all experience and that is pain and allowing my kids to know that you can travel through pain and come back up again with a deeper appreciation, clarity, and gratitude for life.
To gain that clarity, gratitude, reverence, and respect for life that my friends were experiencing We have to love life like a yo-yo.
Not a yo-yo in that life has its ups and downs, but a yo-yo in that you must forgive life. You must let out on a string those parts which do not serve our spirit and the spirit of those whom we must carry with us so that they are still a part of our love here on earth.
Forgiving life is hard. Many people don’t do it well or at all which creates bigger issues than the circumstance that needs forgiving in the first place. Not allowing yourself to forgive life holds you back from living it. Refusing to let the yo-yo string out with forgiveness means not letting the yo-yo come back with the good stuff. You stay all curled up in the hard plastic outer cover with all the hurt and pain sitting in the string.
Ever tried to play with a yo-yo without using the string?
NOOOOO, you haven’t because it’s not fun. It’s just a piece of plastic that sits in the bottom of the toy bin. Whenever it is unearthed or dumped on the floor, it is quickly passed over because it is now considered BROKEN. A yo-yo without a string is a non-functioning yo-yo. It doesn’t elicit any joy or fun or smiles. Not exciting or fun, or silly or meaningful to anyone in any way.
Because while we let the yo-yo string out to forgive life and let the pain and disappointment or guilt and fear go, the magical end of the string when the forgiveness happens, it allows us to pull that life right back up into our hand. We get to let go and forgive and strip the experience of the hurt and pain and pull it back in with the essence of what we can learn and take away from it.
Those Marines have lost friends on the battlefield, time with families, had physical and mental abilities altered due to what they have seen and lived through, but standing in the room that day I also saw that they had let their yo-yo’s strings out. That everyone in that room had at some level, forgiven life for the hard and let the string start it’s journey back up, allowing love, gratitude, grace to have enough respect for all of those they lost to let the fun of the yo-yo of life makes it’s way back. I will also go on record as saying one of the sweetest sounds in life is hearing a bunch of military families laugh together, have fun and enjoy the yo-yo of life.
I wish that for my friend mourning her mom as well. I wish her the strength and wisdom of a weathered Marine. That, in time, she can let the string of forgiving life for its imperfect unfairness out and in doing so, bring back the love and appreciation of what it still has to offer.