Agents of Ourselves: Part Thirty-Five

As is our wont, we came together last week — Yvonne Jones, Laura Staley, , Maribel Cardez, Tom Dietzler, and I — for Finding Your Voice, our writing workshop. Because we’re human, we brought along the trials and travails of the seven days since we’d last been assembled. We started on a somber note as Laura told us of a friend who’s battling stage-four pancreatic cancer. As we always do, we circled the wagons and gave Laura as much support as we could, given the shortcomings of Zoom, of course.

And then we turned the tide.

Each of us, in turn, managed to find a way to inject some levity into the proceedings, in part to lift Laura’s spirits, in part to lift our own. And before we knew it, we all were laughing spontaneously and savoring every moment of our communion.

It was a hallowed example of the close proximity of grief and joy, of sadness and laughter, of our beautifully human capacities for acceptance and transcendence. There were moments in which we all just looked at each other in recognition of our humanity and of the precious moments we were sharing.

All of that put me in mind of another time and place, in which I had the opportunity to experience pain and laughter — suffering and transcendence, albeit absurd — simultaneously. It was the summer of 1974. I was in what was then the privately owned Hospital of Saint Raphael in New Haven, Connecticut, for the surgical repair of a Bochdalek hernia. But rather than write out the story of that experience, I put it in this video.


Mark O'Brien
Mark O'Brienhttps://obriencg.com/
I’m a business owner. My company — O’Brien Communications Group (OCG) — is a B2B brand-management and marketing-communication firm that helps companies position their brands effectively and persuasively in industries as diverse as: Insurance, Financial Services, Senior Living, Manufacturing, Construction, and Nonprofit. We do our work so well that seven of the companies (brands) we’ve represented have been acquired by other companies. OCG is different because our business model is different. We don’t bill by the hour or the project. We don’t bill by time or materials. We don’t mark anything up. We don’t take media commissions. We pass through every expense incurred on behalf of our clients at net. We scope the work, price the work, put beginning and end dates on our engagements, and charge flat, consistent fees every month for the terms of the engagements. I’m also a writer by calling and an Irish storyteller by nature. In addition to writing posts for my company’s blog, I’m a frequent publisher on LinkedIn and Medium. And I’ve published three books for children, numerous short stories, and other works, all of which are available on Amazon under my full name, Mark Nelson O’Brien.