In our HPH group we were discussing how sometimes friends or even family can get tired of us who have had children pass still being depressed or still mourning.  They want us to get back into the swing of things, to return to normal, to be the person we were. That’s perfectly natural for them to want it. It’s something that we can’t give. 

My friends who are 8, 10, 30 years into this tell me that there will be joy again. Some say there will be unspeakable joy.  I can’t say definitively that will not happen. I can say it won’t happy any time soon.  I know that I am forever changed.  I used the word depressed in a recent post.  Perhaps I shouldn’t have used that word. I’m not a mental health professional.  The term depression has a particular clinical definition.  Doctors treat depression with therapy and drugs. The medical profession seems to think if they can just get your serotonin levels balanced out, you’ll be fine. This is based on the brain equals mind model of humanity. They think we are our brains. They see serotonin levels of depressed people being off and think that must be what is causing the mind to be depressed. Well, maybe it’s the other way around. I think the brain chemistry reflects what’s going on with the emotions.  I don’t know. I do know this. Zoloft/Paxil/whatever isn’t going to snap a grieving parent out of it. Grief is a unique type of depression.  And, how we experience grief is unique to each one of us.  I’m doing all I can to deal with this- exercise, prayer, meditation, talking to friends, journaling, etc.  But, there is no quick fix.

Someone recently told me she lost friends after her daughter transitioned.  Her friends got tired of her being in a funk. They couldn’t understand why she was still crying, months/years later.  You know what you do at that point?  You get new friends. No one wants to be around an Eeyore 24×7. No one wants to be brought down all the time. And, believe me, I get sick of saying I’m down or I’m struggling or I’m depressed, but if you ask me how I’m doing, you’re probably going to get the truth from me. If you know me, you shouldn’t expect anything less.  

I believe that I am right where I need to be. I am right where I should be on this part of my journey. All of the chaos, all of the emotions, all of the sadness, all of the pain, it’s all part of the way things are supposed to be. I accept that.  Life makes no sense looking forward, but when we look back we can see why things happened the way they happened.  I recently heard a woman share a dream she had where she was being shown her life by an elderly man.  Life, from this side, is like looking at the back of a tapestry, it’s often ugly and random, but when we see it from the other side, we can see the beauty, the purpose.  In her dream, she realized that everything that happened, happened for a reason. It was all perfect.  The chaos was perfect. She remarked that she wished she had known that while she was going through so she wouldn’t had to worry so much. The old man put his finger to her lips to shush her and said: “No, do not wish the worry away. Even the worry was perfect.”

Today is the first Sunday of the month. It’s the day before Labor Day, so we weren’t sure it if was the best time to try to have the Helping Parents Heal meeting.  IANDS moved their monthly meeting to next week. But, Tywana and I decide to just leave it as it is and see how it goes. No one showed up last month.  There is nowhere to go but up.

A couple of people have told us they would be here this month including a woman I have not met that found us through a mutual Facebook friend.  So, we’re hopeful we will have at least two people. We gather up our stuff, set our expectations knowing we might be coming right back home and we’re off to the meeting.

A few minutes till seven, I hear someone come into the room next to us where the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting is. I hear her ask “Is this the meeting?” and I hear the response of “Yes, come on in.”. Then I hear her name as she introduces herself.  It’s an unusual name, so I immediately know this is the person coming to our meeting, so I’m off to retrieve our first member.  

We do introductions.  It’s a few minutes till 7 o’clock. At 7, I start.  I tell her what the group is about.  By ten after it looks like no one else is going to show up. So, we begin sharing the stories of our kids.  Just then our second person walks in. We redo introductions and I retell the story of Shayna, quick version. Then we go around the table and complete the storytelling.  We have two mothers.  One’s grown son transitioned two years ago.  The other’s teenage daughter passed 32 years ago. She is here to help those of us who are recent- well, there’s no word for what we are.  Wives whose husbands have transitioned are called widows. Children whose parents have gone on are called orphans. The horror of losing a child is so bad there is no word for it.  But, she is here to help us, us parents still walking around in a fog.  I’ve had many parents tell me the first year or two you’re numb, on autopilot, barely functioning.

What happens in the meeting stays in the meeting so I will not share any stories or any information that could be used to identify any individuals.  But, as the meeting goes on, I’m thinking “We’re scheduled to be here until 9 o’clock.  There are only four of us. We’ve just met.  We’ll be out of here by 8 o’clock.  I have no formal agenda. We don’t know each other. When the conversation lulls, I’ll call it. 8 o’clock rolls around, 8:30, 8:45.  Finally, at 8:55 I tell them we’re going to have to start winding down the conversation.

During the meeting, I read an introduction by Sheri Perl Migdol that summarizes what HPH believes about the continuance of our children’s lives, what we are to do while we are here and the eternal beings that we are all.  My intent is to read it at the beginning of every meeting just to get everyone on the same page.  But, it was totally unnecessary with the two women who showed up. We share stories of signs we have gotten from our kids before they passed and prescient dreams before. We talk about reincarnation.  All of us had been to psychics or mediums or both and gotten amazing incontrovertible evidence that there is something very real about their abilities.

It’s not the number of people in the room that count. If we can help even one parent, we have done what we set out to do. And the meetings help us.  In spite of the signs Tywana and I have gotten, the evidence we’ve found through our research, every story helps. Every person who confirms we’re not crazy, it’s not just wishful thinking bolsters our hope and gives us the strength to carry one.  Tonight, it’s mission accomplished.

p.s.- I almost forgot… One of the things we talked about was finding dimes.  Pennies from Heaven is a common phrase, people attributing finding pennies to their Risen loved ones. Well, we decided we wanted dimes because finding a penny is too common.  I told my Put-In-Bay dime story.  When we get home, on the bedroom floor is a single dime.  

My thought for today is one that comes to me as I’m coming out of the sleep realms.  They are ethereal when they come to me and if I don’t get them down quickly, they blow away like a mist. I’m trying to form it into words now.  Part of it is already gone as the more awake I become the harder they are to recall.  Yet, when I get them, they are not fully formed.

Yesterday I attended the surprise birthday party of an old friend.  Her husband put it on for her.  He did it up right.  Rented a hall.  Hired a band.  He even wrote and performed three songs for her.  It was a real celebration.  There were a lot of old friends there.  We danced.  There was a photo booth.  I’ve known this couple for well over a decade now.  They’ve been married I believe it’s 23 years.  You don’t stay married 23 years without going through your share of shit and I know they’ve been through their share.  I think that’s one of the things that made the event so special for everyone. We know what it takes to get to this point in life and in a marriage.  They deserved to celebrate and we were happy to be there for them.

During the party, I was talking to someone I’ve known for a while. She was telling me about issues she is having.  One of them was her kid going off to college. She told me she thinks about me when she gets sad. She knows he’s coming back home and she knows I have to deal with the fact Shayna is not coming back. Yeah.  Pretty much not the same thing.  We know a lot of first-time college parents this year and while I feel your pain (I cried like a baby when Kayla graduated from high school) it’s not quite the same thing as having one of your children not with you ever again in this life.  I empathized with her about what she is going through because it’s all relative. Whatever it is we are going through it’s bad for us. Whether it’s as bad as what someone else is going through is irrelevant.

I put on my party face last night.  It wasn’t easy.  I had it on just a week ago for the impromptu party we had at our house. I didn’t feel like dancing. Tywana and I did have one dance last night.  She was on the dance floor with her friends for a while.  They were all smiles.  Good for them.   

Our friends have two girls who are about Kayla and Shayna’s ages. They were both there.  The husband made a speech.  The wife made a speech.  Her good friend made a speech.  During all of the joy they were all expressing about being together, being a happy family, being intact, having made it, I just wanted to get up and run from the room and be anywhere but there.  It’s not that I wasn’t happy for them.  I was.  I was missing what I had, what I feel I’m supposed to have.  I wanted to go home.  No, I wanted to go, Home.  I had to tell myself “This isn’t about you.  This is about them.”  So, I sat and I smiled through it.  I am genuinely and completely happy for them.  We do these things for others sometimes, even when we don’t feel like it.

Yesterday, Tywana and I were out doing some shopping.  We drove past the high school where Shayna should be in her second year now.  Tywana mentioned that driving by it gives her a weird feeling.  I thought I was the only one. I will actually avoid driving by it many times, driving around it because it reminds me.  14 months into this, there are still times when we both think “Did this really happen?  Are we really living this?”  Shayna was taken so suddenly it doesn’t seem possible that  it’s real.  I’ll be sitting watching a movie and in the back of my mind, it’ll be like it was 14 months ago, Kayla’s out, Tywana’s out, Shayna’s out. Only Shayna isn’t coming home anymore.

I was reflecting on Shayna’s life this morning.  We had two perfectly healthy girls for years. When Shayna started showing signs of arthritis, we had absolutely no clue what it was.  Her fingers were hurting all the time.  Her wrists started hurting. We thought it was from basketball. Then, maybe a strange virus.  Rheumatoid arthritis never crossed our minds. Then, it was the heart thing. Then it was the ACL, twice.  Through all of that, Shayna hardly ever complained.  I remember her crying about the arthritis once- the day we got the diagnosis. And I think she cried because she really didn’t understand it and she saw Tywana crying and me fighting back tears. Shayna accepted whatever life threw at her chalking it all up to life experiences.  When I get down, I think about Shayna and her bravery and the example she set for me.  Take it as it comes and keep moving forward.

Diamonds are formed deep in the Earth.  They are formed when carbon is compressed by unimaginable pressures and heat.  They are formed 90-120 miles below the Earth’s surface at temperatures of 1600-2000º F.  The conditions it takes to form a diamond are extreme.  If you want to get a diamond, the carbon has to be put through pressure and heat that, if I didn’t know better, I would think would obliterate it.  Yet, the carbon, instead of succumbing to the forces, undergoes a metamorphosis that creates one of the most beautiful things on Earth. We are not made of carbon. Our bodies are made of blood and flesh.   Relationships that are tested and endure are the ones we celebrate, the ones that are special. People who go through Hell and come out on the other side are the ones who are strongest. I’m in the heat and pressure. I’ve made it through another day.  I am one day closer to completion of the blood diamond.

In the near death group I am in, almost every day someone comes into the group worried about afterlife judgement, either for themselves or a loved one. Many have been taught that suicide is the unforgivable sin. Some think that if you don’t believe in God, God is going to send you to Hell simply for not believing in Him.  Judgement, condemnation, not measuring up, being less than acceptable- all of these are so baked into our society that for the early part of my life I literally wished I had not been born because I knew I could never live up to the standard.  Apparently I’m not the only one carrying around this fear of not being good enough.

Even if we’ve broken free of traditional religion, there is a New Age belief that we’re here on missions and we can pass or fail the mission.  Some believe there are councils who grade us and decide if we come back and what our next assignment is. Almost endless reincarnation is a softer version of the old religious belief. God doesn’t cast us into Hell, but a council might send us back to a life of poverty or suffering so we can learn first hand what we did to others.  I can just hear the schoolmaster from “Another Brick In The Wall”  roaring “Wrong, do it again!”.  We’re still trying to meet some standard outside of ourselves before we can get break free of the cycle.  

Very common in NDEs is the experience of a life review or “judgement” if you will. In this experience you are shown you life, but more than just a movie, you feel what the person you interacted with felt when you did what you did.  You realize that you are that person you hurt.  You are that person you helped.  You feel it from their perspective.  Some have reported they feel the “ripple” effect several levels. out. If you cause someone to feel good, they will pass that on, etc.  Random acts of kindness are more important than we think; as are acts of cruelty.  That act you do today impacts that person, the person he interacts with and comes back to you in your life review where you will feel it.   What we are told is there is no judgement from God or the others. Jesus’  words “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” seem to be literally true.  You will judge you.  You’re serving someone all right.  You’re accountable to someone. You’re accountable to yourself.

Once we get it, really get it, that we are God and God is us; once we know that   the person across from us because he is part of God and so are we, we come to a realization.  Yes, you gotta serve somebody, as Boby Dylan wrote after his conversion to Christianity. We serve God by serving humanity.  We serve humanity by serving ourselves, because we are one in the same. When we lift others, we lift ourselves.  

I get an average of probably 10-15 offers for free products in my email inbox every day.  I am one of Amazon’s top reviewers, so people send products to me to review. Fairly often I get an offer to review a book.  Usually I pass because, as much as I love to read, there are more books I am interested in than I will ever be able to get to.  My queue is constantly full.  

Yesterday I received an offer to read a book titled “They Serve Bagels In Heaven”. I had never heard of it.  It was offered to me because I reviewed   “The Afterlife of Billy Fingers”  I’m not sure if the person promoting the book noticed I hated “The Afterlife of Billy Fingers”.  I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to review it or not.  I’m still about four books down- books I have bought and haven’t even started. I told them if they could send a Kindle version I’d read it.  

Last week I ran out of Podcasts, so this week I started a new one. As I glanced through the available episodes I thought I saw “They Serve Bagels In Heaven” in the title of one of the episodes. I thought I must have someone gotten a glance of the email.  It was just a flash, I barely perceived it, but I started scrolling back through the titles and there it was.  The author of “They Serve Bagels In Heaven” had done a two part interview on this Podcast.  

When I got back home, in my inbox was a gift of the Kindle version of the book.I guess I’m supposed to read it.

People truly are good and amazing. I have had people who have never met me in person come from hundreds of miles to comfort me, send me messages, send me gifts, anything they can do to help me “through” what I am experiencing.  People don’t want me to be stuck and they’re doing everything humanly possible to help me keep moving forward.

In the last couple of days, two friends have reached out to me because they are concerned about me. They think I’m stuck.  One had her daughter pass away 13 years ago, at the same age Shayna was when she transitioned. I’ve known her for a couple of years via Facebook. The other I only met in the last couple of weeks. She is a professional psychotherapist.  Both reached out to me privately to encourage me and to tell me they are concerned that I am stuck.  So, this is something I need to think about.  If I’m sending that signal out, if two people are perceiving the same thing, I can’t just dismiss it. Am I stuck?  I have to consider the possibility.

Admittedly, I am not in a good place. It would be fair to say I am depressed.  It would be fair to say I am struggling.  It would be fair to say I’m not living my “best life” right now. The day after they reached out to me, a memory came up on Facebook. It was a picture of a rainbow I took as the woman who initially helped Tywana and me with counseling was leaving the house. I remember the day. I remember stepping outside with her and taking my phone out to snap the photo.  At that time I could not see living another few days or weeks or months, let alone another 12 months. Yet, here I am, 12 months later, still here, still relatively sane and looking back at that moment and realizing 12 months ain’t all that long.

The day my friends reached out to me, I had walked five miles that morning, another two miles to cut the grass. I get up between 6:30 and 7:00 AM even though I don’t have anyone to report to.  I had worked a full day.  I did a ½ hour meditation. Since Shayna passed Tywana and I have started a group to help other parents heal. I study every single day something about the afterlife, usually totaling an hour to an hour and a half. Immediately after Shayna passed, the doctor prescribed Ativan for me, which I took a couple of times. I’m not on any medication for depression/anxiety right now and I’m functioning. All in all, I’d say I’m doing as well as I could hope to. I’m doing much better than I expected to.

Stuck is not a word I would use to characterize where I am. Again, I am not in a good place. But, if I picture it as a climb out of a valley, it’s a long, long climb. I had a long way to go.  I think I’ve made some progress.  There is still a long, long way to go.

I just read an article about the seven things someone discovered after having a child transition.  I could agree with six of those things, which I won’t elaborate on here. But, the last one was she said she could know unspeakable joy because she had known deep sorrow.  Bullshit. Not for me.  There will be unspeakable joy again.  I’ve known it before.  It won’t be here on this plane. Every joy now is covered by a bit of a shadow. Every joy I wish I could share with Shayna.  The only unspeakable joy I feel is when I realize this world is only temporary and that one day I’ll remember why I signed up for this trip. Meanwhile, while I am here my goal is to do the most good I can for the most people I can and keep my eyes focused on that day when it all makes sense and it’s all over.

Over the last several days, Colin Kaepernick has been in the news for refusing to stand for the Star Spangled Banner.  This blog is about my journey after Shayna’s passing and I’ve pretty much kept it non-political, but this will tie in if you stick with me.

I personally support Colin Kaepernick’s decision. Whether I agree with his particular cause (and I do), I support anyone who stands up (or sits down in this case) for his personal truth.  As long as that protest is done in a non-violent way, I’m all for it. There is no “appropriate time or place” to protest.  Protest, to be effective, must be disruptive. Black Lives Matters people have tried marching, but as long as you get a permit and march where and when they tell you to, no one pays attention. Shut down traffic and people will listen.  I’m not advocating violence, but MLK recognized that rioting is the language of the unheard. And his protests were disruptive.  If you don’t listen to people long enough, they will raise their figurative  collective voice until you do. Colin Kaepernick had a 10 month social media campaign before anyone paid attention to his simple, non-violent, silent protest.

We have always taught our girls to speak their truth. Shayna was great at educating her friends about the black experience.  Kayla is still doing it.  It’s part of our duty, part of the assignment we signed up for when we agreed to be a black family in America.  We cannot and will not stay silent.  I have over 1,200 “friends” on Facebook. Pretty much every day I offend a portion of them.  Sometimes it’s the conservatives. Sometimes it’s the liberals. Sometimes it’s the atheists. Very often it’s the Christians.  I told people I don’t sing the national anthem or say the pledge of allegiance. I will stand for them, but I don’t participate.  I don’t celebrate the bloody war that started our country, the rich white, slave-owning men who said they were doing it for “freedom”.  They weren’t being murdered. Their wives weren’t being raped. They weren’t religiously persecuted.  Their land wasn’t being taken. They weren’t enslaved.   They threw someone else’s tea into Boston Harbor and started a war basically because they didn’t like paying taxes.  The national anthem celebrates war, and the third verse (which thankfully no one knows) celebrates slavery.  I am not singing that song.  Some say this means I’m not a patriot. That is not true. I love this country, but I won’t whitewash its history and I will continue to goad it into living up to its ideals. I am a patriot. I’m just not a nationalist.

Then there is the pledge of allegiance. It’s fine. Say it all you want. I’ll go with Jesus on this one. Jesus is my example and He says to let your yes be yes and your no be no.  Do not swear on anything. I do not swear. I do not pledge allegiance to anyone or anything other than to God/Humanity, to Tywana, to Kayla and to Shayna. This is the only thing I will swear to. I will do the most good I can for the most people I can for as long as I am here.  But, I’m not pledging my loyalty to any particular country. 

Yesterday, I let people know I don’t sing “bloody Jesus” songs either. What I mean by “bloody Jesus” songs is songs that celebrate the murder of Jesus. I do not celebrate the cross, which is an instrument of execution/murder any more than I would celebrate an electric chair. The image of Jesus covered in blood, or worse yet, me covered in His blood has always creeped me out.  We used to sing a song that was literally about being “washed in the blood”.  As a very sensitive, literal and visual kids, the image of me standing in front of God sitting on a throne- filthy me, worthless me, disgusting me, only sneaking past God into Heaven because I was drenched in blood. Well, let’s just say that’s not a pleasant image for me.   Songs like “Washed In The Blood” conjure up images that have haunted me since youth.  I won’t sing them and I won’t attend a church that does.

The thing that has fascinated me over these past days is how one man’s personal truth and commitment to it can just absolutely piss off another man.  I posted a video of Mayim Bialik (many of you know her as Blossom from her childhood show or Amy on Big Bang Theory). She was speaking her truth of how she can be a woman of faith and a scientist at the same time. Two of my atheist friends felt the need to chime in and criticize her for basically saying nothing and for what they see as logical inconsistencies.  One accused her of simply pandering to try to maintain the widest possible audience.  Both jumped all over me and anyone else who said her video resonated with us.  Why they felt the need to do that I’m not sure about. It seems they are insecure in their “atheism”. Too bad. 

Then, last night, a guy had to send a personal message to me telling me he had lost respect for me and decided to unfriend me over the comment I made about not singing hymns about Jesus.  Well, first I didn’t say I didn’t say that, I said “bloody Jesus” songs and second, why do you feel the need to tell me?  He didn’t ask why I made the comment.  He didn’t ask why I refuse to sing certain songs.  He took it upon himself to be personally offended and to unfriend me and tell me about it.  Maybe he thinks I’m trying to maintain a certain number of Facebook friends. Maybe he thinks I’m running some sort of business and it’s like losing a customer.   don’t get paid for what I do.  And, if he had asked, I would have been more than happy to explain my point of view and give him the respect of saying he is entitled to his.  But, he didn’t ask. So ‘bye Felicia.

Jesus is my role model. It’s amazing how some see Him as this happy go lucky, never offend anyone kinda guy. If that were true, He wouldn’t have been murdered. Jesus spoke His truth with love and compasion, but He spoke His truth to anyone willing to listen.   And to anyone not willing to listen, He said ‘bye Felicia.

In Matthew 7 He said:  “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

And in Matthew 10 He said: “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.”

2016 has been a rough year in terms of celebrity losses. Today, we lost another great one, Gene Wilder. I grew up watching his comic genius in movies like Young Frankenstein, Silver Streak, Stir Crazy, etc.  And, there is his role as Willy Wonka which no one will ever come close to topping.  Gene Wilder was 83 years old. For most of us in our 50s and 60s, we were saying “What?  Gene Wilder was 83?”  We forget we haven’t seen him in a couple of decades and, for some reason, we think people stop aging when they are out of our sight.  Nope.  He made Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein 42 years ago and he was no baby even then. 

We mourn the loss of childhood celebrities and rightfully so. It is a loss for us.  Even though I haven’t seen Gene Wilder in over a decade, something about his passing hits home for me. But, while I mourn for us left behind, I am happy for Gene.  He is Home. Today, he is free.  Hopefully, he’s with Gilda Radner. I don’t know how that works, the marriage thing in Heaven. We’re told we can continue relationships we had on Earth. When Jesus was asked about it, He gave an answer that’s never been satisfying to me.  “At the resurrection, people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.”  But I’m just going to trust it all works out.

We have found out that Gene Wilder was dealing with Alzheimer’s the last several years.  Having lost one in-law to Alzheimer’s and seeing another’s personality being stolen by dementia, I know how devastating that disease can be on families.  From their reports, he wanted to keep his Alzheimer’s quiet so his fans could enjoy the smiles his movies brought right up until the very end without worrying about how might be suffering while they were watching.  He went surrounded by family that he still recognized and listening to Ella Fitzgerald singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. Sounds like cause for a celebration to me.

Thanks for all you did while you were here, Gene Wilder.  You continue to bring laughs and smiles to us all.  Enjoy your well deserved reward.

It’s Saturday. Kayla has been back at college for a week now.  Tywana and are are settling into the new normal. I remember a medium, about a year ago, telling me that I would get used to Shayna being gone.  I’m almost there.  I don’t look for her anymore. But, while I might get used to it, I will never like it.  It’s hard.

It seems nothing is going right, right now.  The old car needed $1,700 worth of work.  The kitchen faucet needs to be replaced. The refrigerator has just died.  Sales for Treasured Locks are down in spite of me spending thousands on advertising and new products. Two distant cousins passed within 24 hours of each other, a 20 year old and a 16 year old.  I’m just sick of this place.  Nothing I put any effort into turns out the way I planned it.  I’m ready for a reset.

Tywana has invited neighbors over for a dinner party tonight. We love to entertain, but we don’t typically do it spontaneously because we put a lot into it. She came back from a night of wine tasting with her friends and told me they had planned an impromptu party for Saturday.  I just do not have the energy for this, so I tell her.  “OK, but it’s on you.” I can’t recall ever feeling this way, but after my walk today I’m tired in the middle of the day. We go out and run some errands. People are supposed to show up around 5:30. At 5:00 she asks if I have any beer for the guests.  Nope. I hadn’t even thought about it. We have some beer in the basement. That’ll have to do.  Normally, we’d have a varitety. Tonight, it’s Shock Top or nothing.   It was on sale at Meijer’s so I picked up a couple of 12 packs.

The neighbors show up.  We’ve made crock pot jerk chicken. It was easy and not a lot of thought.  The neighbors bring the sides. We’re supposed to only be here for an hour or so, then head over to the social at the swim club.  Guess what happens?  Yep. Six hours later, the last guest leaves. it’s a good thing we found that beer and had a few extra bottles of wine on hand.  We have great friends.  It’s always good seeing them, even when I’m feeling like this.  

Maybe I’ll get a second wind.

Today I feel like I just need a break. A friend saw Kubo and The Two Strings a couple of days ago and recommended it.  I know absolutely nothing about it, but on a whim, I ask Tywana if she wants to go see a matinee this afternoon. So, off we go.

We get to the theater and there are exactly two other people there when the movie is about to start. I love seeing movies where I know as little as possible about them, it makes the adventure all the more intriguing.  The movie starts and I am immediately taken by the animation. The story begins with our hero in trouble.  

Kubo and the Two Strings is a classic Joseph Campbell hero’s journey.  I hadn’t heard of this until a couple of months ago at church where the concept was introduced during a sermon. Once I knew the template I realized you could overlay it on just about every movie or television show ever made.  In short,  hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.

I won’t ruin the story of Kubo anymore than I already have, but as I was reflecting on the movie I realized the reason we are so drawn to this narrative is is the story of each of us. We are on that journey, we are far from home, facing perils, testing ourselves, looking for and receiving supernatural aid along the way, and one day we will return home, victorious after having completed our quest.

This is something I have to remind myself of quite often.  The thing that has been added to our quest though is we have forgotten who we are. We can’t even remember home.  I saw a meme yesterday that read “The gods conceal from men the happiness of death, that they may endure life.”  It was one of those “Ah-ha” moments for moments for me.  People often ask: “If reincarnation is true, why can’t we remember our past lives?  If we were pre-existent, why can’t we recall life before we arrived here?”  The answer is simple.  If we could remember how great it is to be home, when the going got tough here, it’d be way too tempting to bail.  I know when I’m having a bad dream, I can usually just wake myself out of it, knowing that when I leave the dream I’ll be safe back in my bed.  

So, for today, it’s time to lace up the boots and continue on the quest.  I don’t know what today or tomorrow will bring, but I know that ultimately I’ll return Home, victorious.

Oh, one little synchronicity. Just this past week I bought two versions of “While My Guitar Gently Sleeps” one by Carlos Santana, Yoyo Ma and India.Arie and one by Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne and Prince.  Then, during the closing credits of Kubo and Two Strings they played… While My Guitar Gently Weeps