Sitting With Suffering


The natural ups and downs of life can either generate personal growth or create personal fears. Which of these dominate is completely dependent on how we view change.”
~ Michael Singer


One of the hardest parts of radio consolidation has been seeing people I care about, some of whom I love as family, flail helplessly as their careers, and with that their self-worth, disappeared.

I’m haunted that my dear friend, Tom Kelly, was afraid to let me see what he regarded as a personal failure, he who had always been the epitome of success, who had preached self reliance and taking personal responsibility for one’s success.

I used to speak frequently, often weekly, with a guy who had worked as an air talent at a station I’d consulted. After ownership changes, PD changes, management changes, industry changes, he found himself on the outside, unable to even look in the windows of the stations he loved.

He lost everything, including his self-esteem, and the last communication I had from him was telling me he was moving to live in his sister’s basement. He said he’d call once he was settled.

Not long afterward, I saw on FB that he had died.

What should I have done to save such a good soul? What could I have said?

It’s hard to think about, but this helped:

Lately, it occurs to me that while I have never had the terrifying gift of witnessing someone I love give birth, I have been enduring a slower-moving version of this. I am watching people I love dearly struggle to birth a new version of themselves, aching into a new season of life. Their pain is less evident than a woman screaming obscenities in a hospital gown, but it is no less real.”

“And I am no more powerful than my partner was as he desperately asked the midwife if it was too late for the drugs. It was. The baby’s head was practically crowning. Despite my state, I remember the wild animal look in his eye — desperate to stop my pain, totally out of touch with the reality of where we were in the process.

Whether you’re struggling or you’re hoping to find a way to help someone else who is, this piece will help you, I think.

Sitting Alongside Suffering by Courtney Martin, part of Krista Tippet’s On Being.

I can do better, and I will try,

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