August 17, 2017
Mental Health and the Artistic Process
I wanted to share a bit more personally today knowing my grandpa has been of great benefit and inspiration to me & many others. Though he is certainly human like the rest of us, I have a feeling some of you will find benefit or inspiration in his story as well. Stay tuned for more info on the life and works of Patrick Shannon, Esq. A podcast highlighting his various relationships and extraordinary goodwill is in development.
My grandpa died tonight. He was a special man–and I’m not just saying that because he was my grandfather. Pretty much everyone who met him thought the same thing. It’s humbling having him gone. It makes me take a look at myself and wonder if I could be half as amazing as he was some day. It makes me sad that his light is gone from this world and I wonder if my Dad and his siblings, me and my cousins can each pick up a piece of that light and carry it on for the world. Can we be a little kinder? Can I see the good in everyone and not let my annoyance take over? Can I put aside my own needs for a second and think about how I can make sure someone else has a good time or treat someone I love to a good meal?
My grandpa wasn’t Buddhist or in a mindfulness program, but he was sure as heck putting those concepts into practice. I think it’s just called “being a good person!” He was incredibly open-minded. Even though he was a faithful Catholic, he was encouraging of my Buddhist practice. Even though he grew up sexually conservative, he said he could understand and not judge people having pre-marital sex. He also focused on gratitude. It’s not that he felt perfectly great all the time, but his focus was on what was going well. He frequently talked about how lucky he was, even if his knee was aching or he couldn’t hear very well anymore. And he wasn’t just pushing aside his feelings, he was really focused on all that was going great for him. He had amazing equanimity. There were times in his life where he lost millions of dollars or found out a business partner & best friend was living a double life. You’d never know it. He’d still pay for dinner and be in a great mood. He felt interconnectedness with everyone in this world, so it was pretty impossible to be his enemy. He woke up and wondered not how he could get all his own needs met at any cost, but how he could be of service to others. And he was of so much service to others that there’s no way I could begin to do it justice here.
You probably didn’t know Patrick Shannon, but I hope that you can pick up one of the qualities of who he was and make that trait bigger in your own life. Check in on someone who you haven’t seen in a while and let them know you’re thinking of them. Write a thank you note. Send a gift to someone who could use it. Tell people you’re doing great and mean it (because you’re focusing on all that you appreciate). Part of this is selfish of me–I just don’t want his light to die and I think it’s going to take an army of us being kinder, stronger, more understanding and more loving to replace all of it.