Posted by Chava Tombosky
When walking in to the Feldman’s home, one can’t help but notice the challenge they face. The sign on the front door kindly asking visitors who are sick to refrain from coming in, the large bottle of hand sanitizer that sits on the side table in the foyer, the smell of alcohol that lingers under baked chicken and chocolate dessert. And yet, their home, now thrust in a cacophony of crisis has energy of hope, optimism and unconditional love pulsing through its veins. Zoe Feldman, a bright eyed two year old child wearing a pink tutu came outside to greet me. Her head bald from chemo therapy, her chest covered in bandaids her arms plastered with stickers and pretend tattoos, gifts she got from the children’s ward during her chemo treatment. We played in her room while she painted my nails as I interviewed her parents about what they thought the meaning of life was.
Zoe’s diagnosis came as a surprise to Jeffrey and Ravit Feldman. Seven weeks ago, after ten days of their small child writhing in pain, the unthinkable was diagnosed when a malignant mass the size of a grapefruit was found in Zoe’s belly. I’ve seen families go through this sort of hell before. I have witnessed first hand how illness can violate a person’s faith. Yet, Jeffrey smiled and told his story with uplifting conviction. As if to say G-d himself was sitting on his shoulders holding his hand the whole time and nothing could shake his confidence. The optimism and sheer blessing he felt relayed filled the room so deeply, even I stopped seeing Zoe’s cancer. All I saw was Zoe’s opportunity.
Jeffrey’s life before Zoe’s diagnosis was like every other American, working, trying to get by, trying to make a life for his family, not thinking about much else but being a good father, a good provider and a good husband. But since the diagnosis, Jeffrey’s eyes have been widened to stories and events he had never thought possible. He truly is inspired by his daughter’s gregarious personality that has emerged. “Before this, Zoe kept to herself was shy and withdrawn, now she is alive touching people’s lives with her bright soul,” Ravit shared with me. Jeffrey is truly inspired by the friends that have come together for him from all across the city to support their family. He has been touched deeply by the unity that has formed as a result of his daughter’s struggle.
Nothing prepared me for the meeting I was about to experience as Jeffrey introduced me to one of the reasons for his hope and optimism. “Big Zoe”, as he called her was an eleven year old soft ball player that had never met the Feldman family before. So inspired by “little Zoe’s” illness, “Big Zoe” decided to take some action- a gesture that created a butterfly effect of possibility and hope. What has emerged from this illness is truly astounding and I don’t think I will ever see cancer the same way again.
Before I left that night, Jeffrey started talking about this as a tragedy, and insisted on correcting himself, saying, “This is not a tragedy, this is a challenge.”
I guess the difference between a tragedy and a challenge is that tragedy lacks hope, tragedy lacks optimism, tragedy lacks possibility. Challenge is reframing oneself to see the potential within the struggle.
Below is a short film that showcases one of the most incredible stories I have ever seen emerge from pain and suffering. It is stories like these that we hope to develop more of on our Life means what site.
Today the meaning of life was taught to me by two small girls who have used their power to find meaning in life by believing.
As an added bonus, part of this film was scored with my music partner, Marcos Moscat . I feel privileged to have had the honor to add the lyrics and vocals. As part of our way of paying it forward, once the song is up on itunes, a portion of the funds will be given to Zoe Feldman’s family to help with medical expenses. Click here to hear the full song entitled “SEARCH FOR THE LIGHT”
To be part of the search please go to http://www.indiegogo.com/lifemeanswhat?a=639881
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July 16, 2012 | 9:18 am
Posted by Chava Tombosky
There are those times when we arrive at a crossroad in our lives when a particular place with a set of circumstances all point to a moment that we can decide to use our actions to set a course that has the power to make a difference beyond our wildest imagination. When film student, Bobby Bailey, arrived in Uganda in his early 20′s to find stories to film, he never thought he would have ended up at one of those crossroads.
We all have crossroads that whisper our destiny and that position us in the perfect place to be able to create change for others, which inherently can affect positive change and outcomes in ourselves. In my search for finding meaning and purpose, I was blessed to have had the chance to interview Bobby and find out how he found the story that became one of the greatest movements of our generation. “We had no idea that Uganda was even a war zone. I was a kid, I got my news from MTV, what did I know.” And yet, upon arriving in Uganda after a long day of experiencing tribal life and watching a woman eat corn with her fingers, a bomb exploded in the center of town setting off the reality that Bobby had indeed landed in a dangerous terrain with an even more important story that needed to be told. Invisible Children was a film that was born from this “accidental” unforeseen trip.
One night as Bobby and his team were standing around during dinner time, thousands of footsteps were heard stomping through the center of town. These footsteps belonged to fifty thousand Ugandan children fleeing for their lives from their smaller unprotected villages at night where they sought refuge to sleep in the bigger towns in an effort to avoid being kidnapped by a war lord named Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
“If this ever happened in the United states, it would make the front page news. How was it that no one was doing anything about this?” A strong statement, that led Bobby and a team of other filmmakers on a mission to not only create a film but create a movement of awareness for thousands of children who had no hero to turn to, no hope to look towards. Bobby’s ability to remain humble despite his collaborated past efforts, which has included raising millions of dollars toward helping these desperate children by mobilizing thousands of American teens into action to raise money to rebuild war-torn schools in northern Uganda and providing scholarships to African youth as well as being part of the team that created a film called “Invisible Children” that has gotten over five million views world wide astounded me.
The question is, what would cause someone to risk their life at the tender age of 20 and go up against one of the greatest war criminals our generation has seen? Because of Bobby’s efforts, ten years ago, countless children have been rescued, and lives have been completely changed forever.
There were two character traits that Bobby embodies that struck me more than anything. Bobby loves telling stories, because he truly believes our stories can have the power to reshape our lives or G-d forbid, the opposite, destroy them, a responsibility he holds dear. He is driven by his idealism, and his imagination. And at the same time there is a humility to his power and his ability to achieve the impossible . Sometimes we believe we are nothing, and therefore we do not even attempt to make a change. But to believe we are small somethings that can create a butterfly affect which matters, while remaining restless enough to seek more and push the envelope further despite success is true humility. Bobby’s thirst for knowledge of what drives mankind is his motor that allowed him to end up in a war zone with out very much thought to consequence. It is this motor that has fueled his success as a filmmaker, a story teller, a social activist and a brand consultant and that continues to challenge the status quo and inspire so many people.
To date, Bobby is no longer with Invisible Children, and although he is outside of those gates now, Bobby’s thirst for truth and for the art of story telling is no less palpable. When I asked him what was next for him, he said “I’m not sure, I believe there are a lot of programs we come up with in industrialized society. I still think we are stuck in a vision that is killing this planet, and we need new visions not just new programs. I want to create new myths that will lead to giving our youth a strong myth that inspires this generation. I am also working on helping brands build ideologies that reshape people’s spiritual lives.”
Bobby is clearly not short of vision and taking action. He is constantly in search for truth and purpose and this fuels his creativity in all areas he delves into.
When we become the story tellers in our own lives, then we can become the heroes that make them. But they don’t happen by chance. They happen when we decide the crossroad we have ended up walking on can indeed become our moment to take action. We don’t need to look around to see who else is going to pick up the pieces and make a difference, we can look inside ourselves and realize we have all that it takes to accomplish what is needed to make that change because we were put at that place at that exact moment that required our talents and know- how.
Today more than ever we have the power to find meaning and purpose in our own lives by looking at our own environment and opportunities that whispers the mysteries of our destiny.
Today for me, the meaning of life means taking action.
To watch Bobby’s interview and become part of “The Search” check out this link here: BOBBY BAILEY
To learn more about our campaign to bring meaning and purpose to the world explore more here: EXPLORE MORE
July 8, 2012 | 12:08 pm
Posted by Chava Tombosky
I am not sure how to get over a broken heart. For what is a broken heart, but a deep swelling in your body that remains void where an unconditional accepting love once filled in. What do we fill this void with? Does every person carry this void around at some point in his or her life? I’ve seen folks allow this space to awaken a destructive force instead. I’ve seen folks replace depression and bitterness for this space that once held beauty and acceptance.
It is easy to never have to own the space, look at it, and fill it in on our own with joy or creativity. It is much easier to become subservient to the space. It is even possible to become despondent by this space and even angry at it, forcing us to resent the hole that fills our heart spreading its sadness into the cracks and crevices of our broken place.
As July 23rd approaches, I can’t help but want this space filled with all my being. For the past two years I haven’t thought much accept for this open space. I have stared it down, teased it, even tried laughing at it, yet there it stands with its cocky insolence refusing to be repaired. I hardly speak of this space. This dark space that lurks behind my work, my thoughts, my creative spark. Sometimes I wonder if it has become my reason for being. Sometimes I wonder if it will ever be filled or if it will remain deeply imbedded in me like a stubborn scar that eats at the flesh without any apologies.
The only solace I have is in knowing its source. For what is a broken heart, but a deep swelling in your body that remains void where an unconditional accepting love once filled in. Before this desolate space took over, there was life and vitality that stood in the now dank desert with accepting love. Accepting love that grows both ways can never really die, for it is everlasting. At the root of this dark space lies a very full, very colorful, extremely powerful memory that if I allow it to take over, can not only fill the dark vast dank space but if I allow it, maybe it can take it over completely and correct it.
I have a hard time believing this is possible today.
But just having the hope gets me up everyday with vitality and a strength that even I never knew I could muster. As he used to say to me every day, “replace your fears with faith.” Maybe what my father meant was that on those mornings that the broken space overwhelms even my ability to breathe because it takes up so much room, he meant to say, “Lean on your faith, lean on your memories, lean on me.”
I don’t know how to get over a broken heart, today. But I have the hope and faith my father’s untimely death will one day repair me and teach me how to fill in the blank.
What is the meaning of life? I guess today it is repair.