There is never a time when it makes sense to be anything other than happy. Being unhappy never improves the situation.
- Lama Sumati Marut
That’s what I posted on my Facebook status yesterday around noon.
A little past 12:30, I received an email with the subject line: Tragic Loss. It was from the high school. A boy had died. A senior. I didn’t know him. I didn’t even recognize his name. Still, everything shifted.
I had posted my status line in response to the weather. Lots of people seemed to be depressed about the impending storm (another in a long line of storms this year) and the quote I posted always inspires me, when I get wrapped up in little things – little, uncontrollable, inevitable things – to notice that I have a choice about how I feel in the presence of those things. That those circumstances – snowstorms, traffic, stomach flus, fender benders – constitute the “small stuff.” That sometimes, most times, and if you’re a lama, maybe even all times, most of us can train ourselves to see brightness, to understand that most of the events in our lives have no inherent goodness or badness, that it is our minds that make them so. The lamas would say this is true of all events.
That’s a hard pill to swallow when a boy has died.
I panicked when I read that email. I thought my Lama Marut quote would be taken as being unfeeling, uncaring. Disrespectful. That it was like a dare to the universe to “bring it.” I went back on Facebook to remove it and I read it again. Then with tears in my eyes, I read it again. I was unhappy. And, no, it was not improving the situation.
I did a google search on the boy and turned up a Facebook Fan Page he’d created about himself that read:
On July 6th, 1993, a legend was born.
Whether you call him Mitch, Mitchell, Clifford (?), Gimpy, or Gimpsy, you can't deny this boy's sheer awesomeness.
He won our hearts in New Orleans.
He charmed us with his wit, wisdom, and sexiness.
If you're a fan of this 4'10" bundle of amazingness, (and who wouldn't be?), you are morally obligated to join this group.
Right then and there I fell a little bit in love.
In the past, I would have spent the entire day looking up information about this young man – who was he? how did he die? – and propel myself into a deep, inexorable funk. Yesterday, I wafted in and out of obsessing and funkdom, but I didn’t dwell there. In between, I made my family its favorite dinner. I took time from my work to watch The Office with my son. I charged my Kindle for the impending ice storm. I left the Lama Marut quote up.
I didn’t know this boy. And my sadness is not improving anything. But I remain unenlightened: It’s making me feel better to cry.