FLASHBACK – Sadly Running With My Paper Bag

This is a Flashback post that was originally written on January 18, 2007, on MySpace…yes, MySpace. 

The human mind can be so powerful. From inventions that have changed our lives to surgeries that improve the human condition, the human mind has proven itself to be immensely vast yet amazingly unknown.

How could anyone think that mold growing on orange rinds could possibly become penicillin and save countless lives? Or how about the first brave person to eat an egg? The mind is a mystery that eludes us all.

How well do we really know each other? I ask people all the time how they are but I never think I am prepared to truly hear the answer. Most of us say it in passing: “Hey, how are you?” and keep on walking. You’ve been nice, did your part and smiled. I have even experienced the instant feeling of uneasiness when you ask someone how they are… and they begin to tell you.

But not everyone will tell you.

My yoga teacher once asked me to imagine every person on Earth lining up and placing all their negative experiences in a paper bag at their feet. Then we would all have the opportunity to walk up and down the line and inspect all the bags with an option of taking one. But once you had the ability to see the horrors that are in the bags of others you would take your bag and run.

People may show such joy on their faces but inside their “paper bag” can be something that is suffocating them inside. You never know what someone has in their bag or how the human mind would handle it.

Today we lost someone that we knew. He was one of those people that always made everyone around them smile and had the ability to captivate others. Engaging was the word that came to mind all day. He was able to engage people. But the mind is extremely complex.

I was stunned to discover that he took his own life.

Someone always smiling, always helping, and always engaging. It was nothing short of painful to see people crumble and fall into that slow yet steady decline that begins with denial and goes to grief. Holding people too shocked to speak or even cry. We never saw the darkness, we never felt the sadness, we certainly didn’t understand the complexities of his mind.

I thought about how many times I asked him how he was without MEANING it and I couldn’t help but wonder what the heck was in his paper bag.

I won’t ask questions without expecting answers and I will certainly listen more…

I am sadly clutching my paper bag.