May 21, 2013

Easy Going, We'll Laugh Our Cares Away

Anyone remember that song? It's from "Follow That Bird," as in... a Sesame Street movie. SUE ME, I love(d?) that movie. 

I would sing this song as a child, and I'm pretty sure my mom has me singing it on tape while eating queso and tortilla chips without any clothes on. Ah, to be 17 again. JUST KIDDING! I was four, calm down.

Anyway, the song has been going through my mind the past few days because I've been reminded of how petty my own worries are. Easy going, we'll laugh our cares away, on this easy going, easy going day. 

It started Sunday when I went to a cycle class. I was invited by a friend to attend an event at Cycle House that included a 45 minute ride and then a small reception after. They were celebrating a huge monument. Let me backtrack — Cycle House is a cycling gym that donates money from their classes to help feed the hungry. Really amazing when you think about it. So they were celebrating the fact they had donated over 155,000 meals in almost two years. Truly inspiring.

During the ride, the last instructor, Nichelle, played Beyonce's "Halo." If you've never taken a cycling class, it usually alternates fast and medium tempo songs, and you ride like you are climbing up a mountain on your stationary bike. You use weights at one point, and it can be an intense workout if you let it be. The thing is that you control how hard it is to pedal. You can (and should) listen to the instructors, but if it gets to be too much, you can always lower the resistance. So during "Halo," when Bey sings

"Hit me like a ray of sun, burning through my darkest night"

Nichelle says, with the most passion and sincerity in her voice, as she's walking around and motivating people that are cycling their asses off, "WE'VE NEVER SEEN A DARK NIGHT! WE'VE NEVER BEEN WITHOUT A WARM MEAL!" And that really hit home for me. I am not a huge fan of "Halo," per say, but I know that I've never had to endure that type of curiousity or anxiousness, wondering where my next meal was coming from. I know that I will eat every day. But hearing her say that, it made cycling up that hill, through the sticky mud and rocks I was imagining myself climb up, all the more worth it once I reached the top. I had been worrying all day about bills and trips and how I need a new car. And some people don't know if they will eat breakfast in the morning, or have something to give their children for dinner. 

Realizing another person's worries, along with Nichelle's encouragement, I made it through the strenuous hill. And it felt really fantastic. Nothing in my life is that bad. I will be okay. Focus on those who might not be.

Fast forward to today. Have you guys heard of Jeannie Mai? If you care about fashion, beauty or anything related to style, you certainly know who she is. She's spunky, she has a million dollar smile, comes up with the best "mai-cabulary" (like "wearapy" instead of "therapy") and uses her last name to her advantage. (Mai style tips!) Anyway, I was looking her up (like I do with anyone else I get fascinated with) and I found a video where she discusses God. It's highly unusual to see someone in her shoes talk about her spirituality. But she talked about how she didn't believe in God at first, but how she did become to believe in him, and about her journey to get to where she was as a television host. She had the best quote: "God just downloaded the Holy Spirit into my heart." I love that because it's really that easy. Anyway, she mentioned that she would hike Runyon everyday and at one point she realized that getting to the top of the hill was much like getting to where you're going in terms of your career: if you have encouragement, you will always make it to the top, and you will always feel good about it. (See? There it is again.) So she had the idea to put a small box at the top of the hill that encouraged people to pray for each other: pray for their challenges, and offer words of encouragment. She left a shoe box with 10 pieces of paper and a pen, and a few weeks later the box was full of prayers in different languages, from all different religions, and people had brought their own paper and pens to write with. And when I heard that, it just struck a chord in my heart. Pray for other people's worries. What a novel thought. Surely it will make you forget your own worries, and remind you that your own aren't as dire as someone else's. 

After watching this, I started to read all about the devastation in Oklahoma. I grew up dealing with tornados and I remember, several times, when my mom would make me, my brother, and usually my best friend Jennifer (since she was over all the time!) get in the bathtub with Harley and Figaro, and pile up with blankets and pillows. One town close to ours, Jarrell, was completely destroyed. I recall the eerie, creepy feeling you get when you hear the tornado sirens; even the sky looks bizarre before a tornado hits... like you're in a movie. I remember having to hide in the halls in my sorority house in Fort Worth a few times, too. It always happen in the late Spring or early Summer, and it's just something you grow accustomed to dealing with, sadly. But watching this wreckage really tore me apart. I just can't imagine the pain these people are dealing with and will have to deal with for years to come. Again, just another reminder about how petty my worries are. Earlier that day I was aggrevated because some products didn't come in for my shoots. Meanwhile, some people were living their last few hours over in Oklahoma. 

Puts it in perspective, right?

I then see a video post on Facebook. It had a grabbing title: "This Kid Just Died." I, of course, click, and start to watch a 22-minute documentary titled "My Last Days: Zach Sobiech." I was brought to tears within the first five minutes, and sobbed the whole rest of the way through. Zach had osteosarcoma, a rare bone disease. He died yesterday, 5/20. But this video allows his legacy to live on, and allows him to always be able to touch the human soul and spirit. 

It, to me, is the perfect video, with a terrible, heartbreaking ending. You see him and his family and friends enjoying each other, loving each other, and at times getting emotional with each other, knowing that he won't live much longer to do the things he speaks of doing, like marrying his girlfriend, for instance. It just broke my heart to watch his baby sister speak of what he means to her, watching his parents talk about dealing with his impending death; when his girlfriend talks about what she fears the most (leaving the hospital after he passes). It really, really reminds you of all the petty things you gripe about and all the wonderful, beautiful things you take for granted. 

At one point, Zach says, "It makes you want to keep on going!" in response to a great gift he had just received, and it puts a knife through your heart. Because the fact is that he can't keep going, even if he wanted to. He has no choice... had no choice.

And he says the most exquisite thing towards the end. "It's really simple, actually. Try to make people happy." That was the goal. And his sweet mom, who put it so eloquently: "I think that's the blessing about cancer. You come out of denial." This family was not living like they were invincible. They knew, for a fact, they were not. Zach could be taken from them at any moment.

To be honest, I was crying from the content of this video, but also because I was thinking about how I would feel if I were the sister or girlfriend in this situation. There are parts of the video where they are just sitting and laughing with Zach while he plays the guitar, and in my mind, I keep thinking, "How is she smiling? And keeping herself so composed?" Because I would be a mess. The second I would laugh or smile with him, I'd be reminded that he might not be around tomorrow to laugh or be happy with. And that is the whole point of this video. To make people think, and to love and enjoy others. And to really embrace your  life.

Please take a minute (22, actually) and watch the video. You will not regret it. It will make you feel something. If it doesn't, you might not have a pulse. 
Also, donate to his fund, or buy his single on iTunes. God did bless you, Zach. 

I know that so many people die every day. Terrible things happen to everyone. We are all not without our own fears, anxieties, traumas, heartbreaks and tragedies. But I am glad that this video was a vessel to help others see that there are people out there with problems much bigger than our own, who are handling them as if they aren't problems at all. 

I hope you'll think twice before you complain now. I know I will definitely be checking myself before I whine about how long the valet is taking to get my car, or that my computer is running too slow, or complain about what I wish I had. What I want is what I've not got; what I need is all around me.


Bailey said...

I watched the Zach video on the eve of my 28th birthday and for sure cried (have three brothers and cannot imagine losing one. Had similar thoughts as yours regarding how Zach's sister was composed during the video) and then stopped worrying about the fact that I'm pushing 30.

Just came across your blog and I'm a fan!

I'm also an LA-based blogger, let's be friends.

Peace, Bailey

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