“But when your love light shines upon my face
I’m in a different world
A world so warm and sweet
I’m in a different world
Now that you’ve been loving me
I’m in a different world” ~ the four tops
Dr. Leo Buscaglia (1924 – 1998 ) professor, author, and extremely loving man is one of my greatest inspirations! He is very compassionate and very humble. Unfortunately he died in 1998 at age 75 years old of a heart attack. But his love and light live on. I lost my good friend/coworker that way, another beautiful, loving person, and now whenever I hear of someone dying that way, someone I know or not, it’s like a punch in the gut.
In the book “Living, Loving, & Learning,” a collection of lectures by Dr. Buscaglia, he writes of an experience he had with a young college student of his.
I am going to share it here.
Caution: This may be a trigger for people who have some experience with depression/suicidal urges or thoughts. I have severe depression and frequent suicidal thoughts and sometimes urges and not always but often, reading/hearing about a suicide attempt or anything about suicide, whether it’s real or fiction, can be a serious trigger for me even when I’m not currently depressed or suicidal.
So this is a warning that what I’m sharing here may be a trigger in case you want to click it off.
Dr. Buscaglia writes:
“In my first year at USC I was teaching a class. It’s an amazing thing- I imagine you feel the same thing I do- but you pick up vibrations from your audience. Things happen between you and your audience if you are talking to them and not at them. It would be marvelous if we could ever have a small group to sit down and really talk and relate instead of always these massive things. But nevertheless, you know that there are certain faces in an audience that come out, certain bodies that vibrate. They reach you and you reach them.
Every once in a while, when you need support, you focus on them and receive a smile that says ‘Go on man, you’re doing fine.’ Then you can do all kinds of things. Well, I had such a person in this class, a beautiful young girl. She was always about the sixth row back and she’d sit there nodding. When I’d say something, she’d say, ‘Oh, yes!’ You could hear her say ‘Wow,’ and then she’d write things down, and I’d think, ‘Oh, I’m really communicating with her – something beautiful is happening between us; it’s going to be good; she’s learning,’ etc. Then one day she stopped coming. I couldn’t imagine what had happened and I kept looking for her but she wasn’t there. Finally, I checked with the Dean of Women and she said, ‘Haven’t you heard?’…this young lady whose papers were absolutely brilliant, whose mind was exciting, who had a creativity like you never dreamed…had gone to Pacific Palisades, an area where sheer cliffs fall into the sea. She parked her car, walked out, jumped off that cliff and splattered herself on the rocks below. It bothers me still and I thought to myself – what are we doing stuffing facts at people and forgetting that they are people, that they are human beings?” (pp. 5-6)
As heartbreaking as this story is, it’s a great reminder that we can be lovingly touching the life of someone we hardly know or do not even realize exists or don’t realize how we positively impact that person. This beautiful young girl was inspiring her professor and had no idea! He looked to her for inspiration, support, beauty….without her ever knowing. He was touched by her life and presence even years later. Even after she stopped coming to class, he remembered her and actually went to look for her. She probably had no clue her smile brightened his day and her positive gestures kept him going strong, feeling as if he was really reaching people. Even though he was a very educated and confident man with an amazing career and great success, once in a while he still appreciated feedback that what he was doing was reaching someone and touching others for the better. And this girl was clearly touched by him as evidenced by her reactions in class. And she confirmed for him that he was touching lives for the better. Even though she killed herself intentionally, it doesn’t mean she wasn’t touched by her professor and others. We can love and appreciate others and what they do for us but still be suicidal.
Both the professor and his student brightened each other’s days and loved each other without communicating directly, verbally, for the most part. They felt a connection to one another, connected through smiles, eye contact, positive reinforcement.
Unfortunately the young girl felt that she just couldn’t go on living. I have so much love and anguish for her and all those affected by that tragic loss. This was decades ago but I am certain there are people still affected by her death. Whether friends and family still alive, others who knew her, or just readers of Dr. Buscaglia and others who just heard of her suicide. How traumatic.
This reminds me of my own experience. When I was in college, I was involuntarily hospitalized for depression when I planned to kill myself. I told a couple doctors I was going to kill myself very soon, I even knew the day and method, when I would be in my house alone with access to the thing I was going to use as a weapon against myself, but I tried to “take it back” after I said it because I had to be hospitalized. I only wanted to relieve my pain some until I got to kill myself. I did not want help. But it turns out after we confess we actually have a thorough plan to attempt to kill our self, we can’t take that back. I wasn’t cooperative and refused to sign myself in so the psychiatrist signed a 302 paper for me and I had to go to the court of mental health where they decided I had to be hospitalized even longer.
And I couldn’t come to class for a few weeks at the end of the semester. My one professor, Dr. M, for one of my psychology classes who I also had class with another semester before that, noticed I wasn’t in class for a while. After I got out of the hospital, I saw an e-mail he sent me asking if everything is ok and said he was concerned because I never missed class and now missed weeks.
I found so much love and consolation in his choice to reach out to me just to check and make sure everything was ok. I told him my situation and he was extremely caring about it and helped me tremendously. He even went out of his way to make it so I wouldn’t have to take our final exam or come back to class since it was about to end anyway and I was a wreck.
Lol I will never forget the love he showed to me. To this day I am still deeply touched.
Through this story I am reminded and want to remind others how one life can touch many, many others for the better even without the person realizing. Your life can be impacting someone in ways you can never even imagine. It may be an employee at a store you visit, the homeless person on the corner, a person you see at a busstop, your coworker you rarely talk to, a neighbor, a receptionist or doctor or nurse at a doctor’s office, your teacher or professor, a person you just say a quick hello to and go about your day…..or maybe you are one of the people above, maybe you’re the person at the busstop inspiring someone, the receptionist, the homeless person, the doctor, the teacher or professor and you have no idea the impact you have on someone you may not even know.
I think it’s worth staying alive even if just to keep on loving everyone around us in various ways even if it’s just a warm smile as we’re walking by.
It’s good for all of us, suicidal/depressed or not, to be mindful of the impact we have on those around us and try to make it as loving as possible. Love isn’t just a warm affection for those we know(though it can be); it’s an action, a verb, an expression, wishing others the best, even if we don’t know them. Reaching out to help, inspire, uplift….is reaching out in love. ❤ ❤
I strongly recommend Dr. Leo Buscaglia's work to everyone. He's one of the most loving people you can ever come across. He's no longer living on Earth with us but his lovelight lives on and on. His essence still lights the world and always will.
As the saying goes, love is how we stay alive even after we are long gone.
“You’re more than a love to me
You’re my way of life
I’ll forever cherish you
More each day and night” ❤
Love & light to you,