When I saw the news from my Facebook feed, my heart sank.
I am not a loyal fan of Anthony Bourdain, but I enjoyed watching his shows. His humility, generosity and receptivity of differences often warmed my heart.
I never thought such a strong character would be engulfed by the stark darkness to the point of not wanting to live anymore. Who would have thought?
Amidst feeling loss and grey, I realised that I didn’t even have a chance to send him a fan mail to thank him for the influence he had on my world view.
It is the only pathetically small effort I could afford. Would that have made him feel better?
Then I realised that this is a thought that usually comes too late in our conscious mind –we don’t see things as ‘precious’ until we lose it.
The invisible darkness is real
While I grew up being the ‘trophy child’ in the family, my younger brother was constantly struggling with his identity and fighting against the darkness that sucked away the joy in life.
When he confided in me about his depression years later, it pained me that I was aloof of his pain throughout the years when we did almost everything together.
I lived in the bubble of perfection until I started to question my own life and tore down the label that once defined me.
In the process of going down the bottomless hole of figuring what life is all about, I had a taste of what that darkness could be like.
There were times my energy level was so low that I couldn’t summon a simple thought of leaving the room, getting an ice-cream or smiling. I simply had no strength to pull myself out from whatever it was.
I never got close to not wanting to live but once I felt that helplessness, hopelessness, and the big black joy-sucking hole inside me, my perception of ‘darkness’ shifted.
It was there I finally understood how my brother made his way into adulthood. I felt like a horrible sister.
Sticking long enough to press the switch
When my brother told me that his past would come back and pull him backwards, I didn’t understand the ‘stuckness’. Why couldn’t you just make a choice and take action to create things that you really enjoy?
In our own way, my brother and I came across spiritual teaching that helped us understand the vastness and wholeness in life and death, pain and suffering, joy and grieve.
Meditation, gratitude, forgiveness and mindfulness became a strong shield of my inner being so that I could hold space for people in my life.
I learned to accept many ‘unearthly’ concepts and stop assigning labels to all kinds of emotions and thoughts.
They are not something that words can fix.
A friend once told me that there is a very fine line between thinking that life is not worth living and that you can make something you love out of this life. He fought his depression by finding things that bring him joy in his adventure around the world.
It might be hard to reach, even harder to turn on, but the switch is there.
Love, right now
I noticed that I learn to live better and love better through every loss in life, but it is too high a price to pay.
We can’t control what others think or how they feel, but we have the power to bring light and love to people around us.
I always remind myself to fill my heart with love so that’s what I give, be more present, and be curious in everyone I meet.
We always think we have a life time to live and to love, but life is in fact a fleeting fragile thing that is contained within breaths.
People who matter to us deserve a lifetime to know how such they mean to us, not at the end of life.
So keep that fact in your mind when you’re with people who matter and treat that time as what it actually is: precious.