Sunday, November 18, 2007

How to Save a Life

I love this song by the Fray, "How to Save a Life". I just saw the
video for the first (and then immediately the second, third, fourth
and fifth times) on YouTube. The video adds truth to the song's
inherent power:

The song seems ironic to me. Many of the instructions to the
listener in the lyric itself seemed doomed to failure, like:

"Let him know that you know best
Cause after all you do know best
Try to slip past his defense
Without granting innocence
Lay down a list of what is wrong
The things you've told him all along
And pray to God he hears you
And pray to God he hears you"

However, the written list of considerations in the video
seems more on the mark. Listen. Let it go. Have faith. Love.
Remember. Forgive. Open up. And so on.

I guess the narrator of the story realizes that he didn't know
what to do when it mattered the most. So he demanded this
person's attention, made lists of what was wrong, assumed he
knew best and prayed the other person would see the light.
Apparently it didn't work out. Really, he just needed to be there
as a supportive listener and friend. "And I would have stayed up
with you all night, had I known how to save a life."

When people need the most help, usually we do really just need
to shut up and listen. As a friend of mine put it, "Although this
seems passive, it is not. This is real work, and requires concentration,
and the strength to refrain." I love that. The strength to refrain.

In the perfect world, none of us would ever need to know how
to save a life. But many times life is not perfect, and those
closest to us find themselves in a very dark place indeed. With
patience and concentration, we can strive to be vessels of hope,
acceptance and love when it is needed most.