Like a Phoenix, We Can Rise


The events of the last week–the passing of Robin Williams and our beloved greyhound Baylor, as well as the civil and social crisis in my home state of Missouri–sent me on a nocturnal search for my journal. I have years of trusting my gut at 3 a.m. when it says, “Get up and write.”

The beauty of gut writing lies in its therapy. Without fail, after my mind purges, I finally sleep.

So it was a few nights ago.

Time passages

From my journal, edited a bit for clarity:

Time shifts slowly sometimes, like the moments in a sleepless night. Time can also take a monumental leap forward with no pause for explanation. Each progression is maddening in its own way.

Sleep eludes me this night, due in part to an aching hip but more because of an aching heart. But what is it that really calls me from sleep?

I think it’s a lifetime of deep thinking; some might say depressive thinking. I grew up a brooding sort and sometimes, though I strive to find the bright light, darkness calls. I may peek into those ebony-laced shadows, as I am tonight, but’s it’s been a long time since I stayed for long.

And still I rise, wrote Maya Angelou. How is it that she rose, often bloody and torn, that others do as well, while some succumb to the darkness?

What keeps me from going there, into the black crevices of depression, when Robin Williams couldn’t stay out?

Brain circuitry, chemical imbalances, both of which I say I understand but I really don’t. I do believe that mental illness, of which addiction is a part, forever alters the game of life.

That part about time? Each second is a trial or a blessing, depending on the level of balance.

So much to learn, but more we should stop

There is so much to learn about what makes us–those with a brain disease or imbalance–tick, but knowledge and empathy is not nearly enough. There is plenty we can do to help but maybe there is more that we should stop.

Stop being so quick to judge, to gather a head of righteous steam.

Stop offering incendiary opinions, especially when a public microphone is offered.

Stop contributing to hateful rancor with name-calling and race-baiting.

Stop ignorant shouting from street corners. 

Stop pretending you know the whole story; chances are you don’t.

Instead, start leading with love. Let love guide your words, thoughts and deeds.

When you find yourself in the blackened shadows of a mean-spirited mindset, rise up instead and find your way back to the light. The light is where you belong.

Rise up, beyond appearances, beyond what you think you know. Rise up toward the willingness to believe you don’t have all the answers.

We’ll never know for sure why Robin couldn’t rise up one more time. We may never know for sure why the maelstrom in Ferguson, MO, happened the way it did.

But here’s what we can know: Our own phoenix is ready to rise. Answer the call of your own why, then do something different to illumine your light.

I’m convinced it’s the only way to feel peace.

Photo courtesy of Oleander

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  1. Beautiful, Beth! You’re right, there’s so much to stop. And we need to accept that we may never know why.

    • Beth says:

      Hi Sandra,

      As a trained journalist, not knowing why can drive me crazy if I let it! As a person who has gained a little wisdom (and a lot of time!) since those college days, I know that if I simply pause, breathe and wait, the why will probably change anyway!

      Life sure is funny and fascinating, isn’t it? Thanks so much for your comment!

  2. I love your approach of accepting that we might never know why. Some say it’s because of this or because of that. While some are absolutely convinced it’s one way or the other (and work hard to convince the rest of us!). But the truth of each matter may be something we had no idea about. And the only thing we can do is work on ourselves… to be less judgmental, less critical, more accepting, more open, more forgiving, more appreciating, and more loving!

    • Beth says:

      What beautiful words, Eric! You are so right–the only thing to do is work on ourselves. That’s why the Serenity Prayer is so invaluable to me, particularly the last part–asking God to grant me the wisdom to know the difference between what I can change and what I can’t.

      So grateful for your readership and for your comment. Please stop by again.

  3. Hi Beth,
    I appreciate the title about the Phoenix.
    In fact i believe the Phoenix has a lot to do with incessant manifestation.We manifest what we deserve;and that depends on what we decide about our deservingness.

    We deserve what we feel we are fit to digest.What we are convinced we are worthy of.We deserve what we feel is corresponding to our status in life.We deserve what we feel we are justified to receive.

    The justification of our wages is in our head and our heart.No one else decides our justification.Its good to justify to ourselves what we desire.

    The beauty of this universe is that whatever we decide to justify eventually does materialise.


    • Beth says:

      Hi Mona, and thanks for your comment!

      Hmmm, I need to think about your words deserving and justified. Admittedly, I have some very old tapes that play around those words but there’s no reason why the new and improved me (and more openminded!) can’t put some brain time to the concepts. You raise good points.

      Appreciate your taking the time to post them here!

  4. Beth,
    A much need read for me! I get disheartened by the news. I usually do a “news fast” but have watched more than my share with all the recent stuff. I agree that we’ll never know for sure. But I hope everything will have some meaning some day.

    • Beth says:

      I know what you mean about the news. I feel a regular tug to watch and/or read; I think that’s the old journalist in me. But then I have to remind myself that the news reporting of today is a far cry from 30 years ago and do my best to let it go.

      So glad you stopped by!

  5. “Rise up, beyond appearances, beyond what you think you know. Rise up toward the willingness to believe you don’t have all the answers.” So beautifully said Beth. We never know what goes on in another’s mind and spirit, especially a celebrity where we just see bits and pieces. It is hard to heard the sad news of the events around the nation and the world for that matter. We all just do our part to help ourselves and those around us. Wonderful post, Beth.

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