Friday, July 25, 2008

Beyond Blue: Larry Parker and Rain

Therese Borchard writes in Beyond Blue:  "The other day I invited you to write your own "This I Believe" essay like the ones read over NPR. Beyond Blue reader Larry Parker/Doxieman122 (who is a candidate for the Member of the Month) blew me away with his. I hope you submitted it to NPR, by the way, Larry! You can find others by checking out the "This I Believe" discussion thread at Group Beyond Blue at Beliefnet's Community. Thanks for such a great read!"

Dear Father in heaven, I'm not a praying man, but if you're up there and you can hear me [as he cries] show me the way... show me the way. - George Bailey, "It's a Wonderful Life"

There is a reason, I think, that rain is used as a metaphor for our tears and sadness. It's a Biblical metaphor on numerous occasions - "the rain falls on the just and the unjust." A hint of sadness helps us remember the sweetness in life, just as rain helps grow the crops; but a flood of rain drowns the crops as in Iowa right now.

I've never experienced a scene in a movie with more desperation than Jimmy Stewart sitting at Martini's bar after learning that Uncle Billy has lost the BaileyBuilding and Loan's money and he will be arrested for embezzlement. But I've experienced that level of desperation routinely - every few months - for more than a dozen years - thanks to my bipolar disorder.

Yet of course, in "It's a Wonderful Life," George's suicidalness isn't the end; it's the beginning. George, of course, let go his own solipsism, on the verge of jumping off a bridge, when he saw a drowning man he felt a primal urge to save - who turned out to be his otherworldly savior.

Realizing such things can happen, I believe, is how you survive the unsurvivable. And that's something I've come to believe as well about life as well as near-death.

I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me... but it's hard to stay mad, when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst... And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life... You have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm sure. But don't worry... you will someday. - Lester Burnham, "American Beauty."

In the story, of course, Lester (played by Kevin Spacey) says this when his heart had literally burst - he had just been murdered by his neighbor, Colonel Frank Fitts, played by Chris Cooper.

The famous closing monologue of "American Beauty," to me, wonderfully illustrates the frontier between the rain of depression and the dream of hope. The question is, how do you realize that before death?

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