I’ve been sick for a couple of days. Headache and ache all over. This flu announced itself by two days of bottom of the pit depression. Friends would try to cheer me up and I would just cry. I spent yesterday mostly sitting on the couch, reading and playing solitaire. But it was such a relief to be sick and know that was what the depression was about. It’s happened to me before, and when the cause is revealed to be physical, I take care of myself, instead of trying to make the depression go away. I didn’t feel well enough to type. I did walk out to the mailbox. That’s the first time I’ve done it since Bella died.
I went back and read some of my blog. I’m always surprised to find that it comforts me. In one post there was a link to Maria Farantouri singing “Asma Asmaton” from a cycle of songs about Mauthausen, a concentration camp in Austria. The YouTube video shows Mikis Theodorakis conducting, and there were two other songs from Mauthausen, so I listened to all three.
I don’t know how I found the video of Kaelynn and her story of abuse, being bullied and how she can now stand up for people who are hurting and being bullied. Other videos showed up with similar stories. I haven’t tried to watch them all. There’s one with a cut and bleeding arm that I haven’t been able to watch yet. Cutting myself was the story I told on the stage in Journey into Courage. I talked about identifying with soldiers with PTSD. At that time, early 1990’s, I had no idea that I too was suffering from PTSD.
I’ve been trying to figure out why these stories of painful experiences make me feel so strengthened. The video of Theodorakis and Farantouri, though it was made in 1975, it’s in black & white, the quality isn’t great. Yet their energy and seriousness are like a ritual that brings beauty out of a horrible tale of human cruelty. Their passion moves my heart. That a Greek poet, imprisoned in a concentration camp, should write poems about how love shows up, even in such hideous circumstances, and that they should be given musical life with such power, makes me feel that beside the truth that human beings can do unbelievably cruel things to other human beings is the other truth of love. The three songs have become known as “The Mauthausen Trilogy” and become immensely popular.
The first song “Asma Asmaton” (Song of Songs) is a Greek man singing of his love for a Jewish girl: “Nobody knows how beautiful she was.” The second song is about a Greek man named Antoni who helps a fallen Jew when they are being forced to carry heavy rocks. The third is “When the War is Over.”
The torn pieces of paper with her story written by hand, gives an immediacy to Kaelynn’s story of being abused by her family and then bullied at school. At the end she says “I now stand up for the weak, the hurt, the lost, and the bullied.”
Sami, age 16, shares a long painful story, bullied because she was depressed, yet at the end she can say: “I am scared but that’s OK! So far each thing has made me stronger! wiser! more loving!” There was a link to this story, but when I went back to check it, YouTube said “that video is no longer available.”
One more thing that strengthened me was a 10 minute TEDx talk by Ash Beckham on coming out of the closet. She talks about being real, being authentic, and I realize that’s why all these videos strengthen me. People being real and speaking their truth.