Second Looks

Tonight's the night I am watching and blogging about episode 12, in my usually brilliant fashion.  But I have to admit, I'm really saddened by the death of Zina Bethune and the tragic way her life ended.  Learning about it has made me want to dig deeper into who she was in her time here.  Is that weird?  Death does that sometimes, though.  It can endow someone with more "depth", more poetry than what we might have initially given them in our passing thoughts.  But once you know something like that, the thought of how their life ended sticks around, altering the way you think of them.  At least until we can see beyond it and focus on the truth of who they were as a person.  But unless you take those extra looks at a person's life it can be so easy to judge them by the way their life ended.

Is it fair?  Is it fair to judge the whole of a person's life by the way it ends?  Or should we judge it based on the highs it reaches, by the moments when it reached its potential and impacted lives through the understanding of and fulfillment of its life purpose.  I think that's the way it should be.  Because in so many ways, for so many people, the end is so random, just an odd act of God, or nature, or whatever you want to call it. 

Working with the elderly has also made me think and rethink the many ways life ends.  For example,  I met this wonderful little owl like woman who lived in a room, very comfortably at a pretty exclusive home for the elderly.  She spent a lot of her time tucked in a little lazy boy, watching televison, ocassionally getting out to play bingo... She had these two beautiful paintings on the wall of her room, one of herself from when she was a young woman in the fifties, and next to it a young man, presumably her husband.  And there was something so beautiful and poignant about the way they were cherished and still displayed with such pride.

Do we judge her life by its end?  This very peaceful slowing down, which is relatively solitary compared to much of her early days, cared for by people who begin as strangers, but grow to love and respect her, because of her dear personality and spark of life?  Well...why not?  It certainly doesn't tell the whole story, but a lovely soul like that, her life slowly winding down, but still affecting people in many small ways, it's pretty telling of the kind of life she lived up to that point.

And Zina?  She died protecting an injured creature, and you can't say that doesn't speak to something.  You can't say that doesn't tell you what a caring soul she was to stop and pay attention to a little wounded soul.  Look a little deeper and you discover that when she left acting she went back to her passion for ballet and up until the end of her life was teaching disabled children how to find joy in dancing. 

It's funny, because all you have to do, with anyone really, is stop and pay attention.  Look at them from a slightly different angle.  You don't even have to force it, make yourself find a new way of looking at them.  You really just have to be open to other possible explanations of that person and not "why they are the way they are" (that's so pious and patronizing) but who they are.  I guarantee that they are more than you have been allowing them to be.  And if you are open to it, life will present you with not just one, but a handful of ways to them in a new way.  You just have to be prepared to be wrong.