“It’s always something.” ― Gilda Radner
Truer words were never spoken. I admit to having spent too many of my early adult years holding my breath, hoping that I wouldn’t have to face another financial, family or health issue. Even with the confidence of having overcome numerous obstacles in my life, there was still a lingering fear that maybe the next one would do me in. I was also really averse to pain…any pain…physical or emotional. That’s probably why I find the following quote by Gilda Radner to be so grounding:
“There are no guarantees. There are no promises, but there is you, and strength inside to fight for recovery. And always there is hope.” Also this one: “Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.” A lot of my daily Buddhist practice and therapy has been learning how to embody this wisdom.
Gilda Susan Radner (1946 – 1989), an American comedienne and actress, was one of the seven original cast members for Saturday Night Live (SNL) in 1975. Radner brilliantly parodied television stereotypes, such as advice specialists and news anchors. She also portrayed those characters in her highly successful one-woman show on Broadway in 1979.
My favorite character of hers, Roseanne Roseanna Danna, appealed to my inner child. Especially when she talked in descriptive terms about gross things people would get in their eyes. Which reminds me of the many times my young daughters joined me in teasing their mother by lifting our heads from below the dinner table with green beans sticking out of our noses. I know what you’re thinking. “Why didn’t you use sweet peas instead?” Well, we did that, too. These are classic Lisagor family memories for which I’m not sure Most Beautiful One will ever completely forgive me. Especially now that I have done the same thing with our grandkids!
On a serious note, Radner’s autobiography dealt very frankly with her personal struggles including her illness which ended with her passing away at just 44 years old from ovarian cancer. My own sister died from cancer at 48 years old. I still miss my phone calls with her.
About her numerous misdiagnoses and treatments, Radner said, “I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”
Delicious ambiguity — what a wonderful sentiment. This sounds so much like what we are all facing during this pandemic and, for that matter, with the increasingly alarming impacts of global warming. Even though I can’t predict when or how my own personal journey will end, I can still try my best to ensure my grandchildren have a more promising, indeed, “delicious” future.
Gravity is indifferent to whether someone believes in science or not. It is with this understanding that I want to affirm my belief that every single person without exception should be acting to protect themselves and others from this deadly virus and the planet from irreversible damage.
Lest we despair, I’ll end with these words from Buddhist scholar, Daisaku Ikeda: “Sometimes, it may be hard to see where—or how—to begin. But we cannot be paralyzed by despair. We must each take action toward the goals we have set and in which we believe. Rather than passively accepting things as they are, we must embark on the challenge of creating a new reality. It is in this effort that true, undying hope is to be found.”
While we work together for a better tomorrow, let’s not forget to put the occasional vegetable up our nostril. Just don’t tell Most Beautiful One!
Thanks for reading and please be smart and safe!
Next week: Bobby McFerrin & the Coronavirus
Other titles by Mike during Covid-19:
Henrik Ibsen & the Coronavirus
A Remarkable Mender & the Coronavirus
Julie Andrews and the Coronavirus
Most Lucky One & the Coronavirus
Lily Tomlin & the Coronavirus
Herbie Hancock & the Coronavirus
Leo Tolstoy & the Coronavirus
Most Beautiful One & the Coronavirus
Grandma Moses & the Coronavirus
Leonardo da Vinci & the Coronavirus
Lean on Bill Withers and Defeat the Coronavirus
Gandhi, King, Ikeda & the Coronavirus
Tagore and the Coronavirus
Annie Leibovitz and the Coronavirus
Ansel Adams and the Coronavirus
Louise Penny and the Coronavirus
Harry Manx and the Coronavirus
Keb’ Mo’ and the Coronavirus
Davy Jones and the Coronavirus
Prince Hamlet and the Coronavirus
Helen Keller and the Coronavirus
Pema Chodron and the Coronavirus
ABOUT MIKE LISAGOR – Mike Lisagor plays harmonica and sings in Good Karma Blues. He has written hundreds of magazine articles and blogs on a variety of business and Buddhist related topics. He is the author of “Romancing the Buddha,” which he adapted into a successful one-man show that he performed at Bainbridge Performing Arts and in Los Angeles and Washington D.C. His nature photographs have appeared in the Boston Globe, Bainbridge Island Magazine, Living Buddhism as well as in several local galleries. His latest graphic art project, “Reimagined Nature”, is in the lobby of New Motion Physical Therapy.