“Absolutely everything is available to us — sorrow and joy, grievance and forgiveness, horror and transcendence — it’s all on the menu. It’s up to us where we put our attention.”—Josh Radnor
I was lucky. When news of the Paris attacks struck the airwaves, I was standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon, gazing out at billions of years of evolution, making it much easier to put things into perspective.
Like everybody else, I have a limbic cortex (AKA the lizard brain) that’s in charge of fight, flight, fear and freezing up.
But I also know, after years of covering such events as a news reporter, that the minute some tragedy happens, people rush forward to help, to heal, to bring forth the higher part of ourselves that loves, only loves.
In Paris, for example, an anonymous musician drug a piano by bicycle to the Bataclan and played John Lennon’s “Imagine.” The taxi drivers offered rides for free. The hash tag #PorteOuverte (it means open door) was broadcast across social media for anyone needing shelter.
And all of us have a choice. Do we live from our lizard brain that’s urging us to fear, to retract, to cower in isolation? Or do we become the lovers, the higher selves that we all know is possible.
Part of the reason I no longer work as a news reporter is because the news (which spotlights mostly beastly anomalies) reports on an antiquated way of life that’s grasping for its last breath. I choose now to report on love and on possibility and the new world that is surging forward.
I know it’s tempting to sit mute in front of the television set or the twitter feed that recounts the gruesome and grotesque. But that only feeds the lizard. The lover in you is just as strong, just as valid. And it wants to act. So your choice.
I’d love to hear in the comments section below the act of love, bravery and kindness you will perpetrate today.
Pam Grout is the author of 17 books including E-Squared: 9 Do-it-Yourself Energy Experiments that Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality and its equally-scintillating sequel, E-Cubed, 9 More Experiments that Prove Mirth, Magic and Merriment is your Full-time Gig.
Once, in a three-bedroom pension in Austria, I got locked in a tiny bathroom. I hollered out to my hosts, “Help! I can’t open the lock.” They spoke no English so obviously they didn’t rush to my aid. Instead, they probably scratched their head, wondering what the crazy American girl was yammering about so early in the morning.
Not wanting to miss even an hour of my fabulous solo Eurail adventure, I got louder and louder in my attempts to arouse their assistance. Finally, they came to the door and started asking what I presumed were questions, but since I speak no German, I had no idea what they were asking.
This story (and, yes, for those who are wondering, I finally did get free from that tiny 3-foot by 4-foot lock-up) demonstrates what I think is going on in the world today, particularly American politics. People are speaking two different languages.
Since I’ve spent much of my life writing books about what I consider to be the biggest secret in the world (that we all really love each other), I’d like to offer some translation assistance:
1. What they say: Life Sucks
What they really mean: I’ve memorized an emotional state of suffering and have set up neural pathways that can see little else. Secretly, I know the world is beautiful.
2. What they say: You suck
What they really mean: I’ve picked up cues from my background that suggest you’re different from me. So I’m scared and prefer to keep my distance. In reality, I love you and know we are one.
3. What they say: Your politics suck.
What they mean: I’ve learned this unfortunate habit of jumping to conclusions and shutting out all evidence that differs from my safety zone. I’d really like to shut up long enough to hear what you have to say. I know we have more in common than we have differences.
Or if that fails, do what I do. Play the opposite game. When people start spouting unhappiness, inanities and misinformation, I know they’re simply replaying old tapes and need my love more than ever.
Pam Grout is the author of E-Squared: 9 Do-it-Yourself Energy Experiments that Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality.