the Baton of Kindness

December 26th, is the anniversary of my life being turned upside down. 3 years ago, at around this time of day, my mind and body both began to fail after an artery in my head ruptured, leaking blood into my brain and wreaking damage on my head-equipment that I deal with to this day.


For the past few years, BOXING DAY has become my own personal Thanksgiving; a day to reflect on any progress since the same day last year, no matter how slight, and be grateful that I’m here at all. However, this year various dear friends of mine suffered their own losses, including some tragedies just before Christmas, and I’m thinking of them instead.


As I grow older, my circle of friends grows too, and today’s social media means that I know intimately and immediately about the grim dramas unfolding in the lives of people I care about. It can be hard to process and make ‘sense’ of all these heartbreaking tragedies, whether you’re at ground zero and it’s happening to you personally, or whether you are trying to offer comfort to others in distress. Some people, perhaps doubting their own ability to offer any profound wisdom, simply stay away, but having been on both sides of the tragedy equation, I think that simple human connection is the most powerfully healing thing we can do for each other in times of crisis. No words of wisdom required. Tragedy of course is inevitable in life, we all must face it eventually, and even the most privileged and sheltered among us will eventually have to deal with setbacks, failures, and wounds. Facing these unsolvable problems is somehow less daunting in the company of others.


I love people who believe in God and I also love people who believe just as strongly in nothing at all, but whoever is right, I think we can all agree that the day to day decisions of what to do in any particular earthbound crisis are up to us humans. So, when there’s a tsunami, a plague, a humanitarian crisis, a murder, a medical emergency, or a tragic death, it’s up to us frail human beings to respond, and I think the reason that we’re here (if there’s any reason at all) is simply to help each other through crises such as these. Keeping that baton of kindness, empathy and love being handed from hand to hand is what makes this at-times difficult life not only bearable, but sometimes actually wonderful.


63 thoughts on “the Baton of Kindness”

  1. Good on you James. Having walked away physically from an emabalism 20 years back I can somewhat share your thoughts. It is these experiences that provide us with the empathy that makes us whole human beings. Lots of love to you on this seminal day.

  2. So well put for a guy with a leaky brain! Jamie, your spirit and grace and dry sense of humor throughout your ordeal has been nothing short of miraculous and it only points out what an amazing person you are, even without your astounding reslience and commitment to learning to draw with your left hand! May God and Buddha and Yaweh and the Flying Spaghetti Monster and the Force bless you! Big, kinda gay hugs from the filthiest man on the planet…xoxo

  3. I was good friends with Rob and Dom in high school. So, although we don’t know each other, thank you! I, too, had a speed bump in April this year where I was diagnosed with a very large brain tumor and had brain surgery and consequently, had many complications and severe pain. We are so lucky to still be here to tell our story. May every day bring you more recovery and improved health

  4. I am very grateful to have been able to spend time with you recently, and especially thankful for your very wise insights. Very strong reminders of the precious moments we all live. Thank you!

  5. Jamie… Well said, as always. You’re an amazing writer. As you know, I, too, have my own dubious life-altering anniversary to rememebr, if not celebrate. The day the 19 year-old realized he wasn’t quite immortal. Couldn’t they just have sent me a brief memo?


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