Friday, July 20, 2012

The Healing Path

For American readers the news that a shooter has taken the lives of at least 12 people and injured 38 more in a movie theater last last night/early this morning will be well known by now. My social media sites have been a flurry of questions and comments: What happened? How can this happen? What is wrong with people? I can't make sense of senseless violence. What can I do? Thoughts and prayers. Thoughts and prayers. Thoughts and prayers. 

Perhaps some of you have noticed, perhaps not, that I choose to take time before responding to tragedy and trauma. I want my message to be consistent and I want it absolutely clear. In my mind, and in my opinion there is only one way to resolve, deal with, process and heal from tragedy: with love and compassion. 

Violence does not heal violence. Hatred does not resolve hatred. Only with true compassion and love can we make our lives, the lives of those around us, and our impact on the world better.

So what does that really mean? Well, for me it means fostering tolerance in the face of hateful words or opinions and allowing myself to look past the language into the wounded hearts of those that say them, disagreeing with respect, and compassionately, patiently, without malice or sharp words, helping to shine light on a path of peace and kindness towards others. It means pausing before reacting. It means breathing. It means taking a moment to move to a place of gratitude and tolerance before I address things. Do I always succeed? No, of course not. But I have been that person who has said hurtful things with a wounded heart and a bruised ego, who has hurt people with a quick temper or biting words. I have also been that person who was crying out for love from beyond those words. I like to think I have changed and I like to think every day I am tiny bit better. I would like to think that about everyone - but as we well know, there are people whose cries go unheard, whose pain is too deep, whose minds are too tortured. 

And so it goes. Innocents hurt, families torn apart, hearts crushed. On and on. 

We cannot fix the world - not a single individual one of us, but we can be a light. We can be forces of change. We can inspire others simply by living lives that are true, full, passionate, loving and kind. We can ignore all the rules and chase the passion that brings us the most joy and leave in our wake a sea of people touched by positivity, inspiration, honesty, integrity, compassion and love. We can create unseen changes in other people every single day and create a ripple effect of positive change. 

What do we do when faced with incredible tragedy? We allow ourselves to feel that intense sadness. We respect and honor our need to be confused and lost. We pause and spend true moments, real time, sending out deeply felt empathy to people we've never met through prayer, through meditation, through thoughts, and then we expand. We grow. We give thanks for everything that is in direct opposition to the negativity we were just bombarded with - we embrace life, value it, savor it, thank our god(s), our universe, our air for it and we grow. 

Hear me loud and clear or this: We do not, DO NOT allow ourselves to lose hope. We do not allow ourselves to be crushed beyond repair. We do not give up.

I speak from a place of strong, earnest, deeply felt imploring: Do not allow the pain of other people, their brash and horrible lashing out, to make you lose hope. I did. I allowed the events of September 11th to unravel me, to kill my dreams, to make me cower in a dark place. I wish I had been better equipped to handle what happened, but I wasn't. I lost years of my life not being the person I want(ed) to be. I am just now starting to recognize and feel a fire inside me that is fierce and passionate and headed directly in pursuit of my joy - a feeling I felt without exception before that dark day.

You must never allow to pain of others to make you lose hope - be filled with love and compassion to the best of your ability and move forward.

Where is forward? I hope for you, as well as for me it is a place of unequivocal joy. Forward is a place where we take small steps, tiny little nothing actions in the direction of our passions. Forward is a place where people's opinions, judgements, and naysaying falls away, irrelevant, because your singular focus is so deeply embued with and fueled by love, that negativity is just a obstacle that wastes time you are not willing to give up. 

Let tragedy bring you pain but then let it push you forward into a life that is filled to the brim with honesty, passion, compassion, big dreams and bigger chasing of dreams, and love. Be the opposite of the darkness.

For those of you crying out for something positive today here is what I did, read, and watched that helped me in regaining my compassion and love:

I took the whole morning off and cuddled my daughter. We ate ripe, juicy peaches and perfectly grilled cheese sandwiches, bathed, giggled and read books. It reminded me of my favorite poem, yet again, for the second time in that past week or so:


From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.
From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.
O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.
There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

- Li-Young Lee
Found here and many other places online.

I watched this and reminded myself that I want to be the person fully soaking in the moment, not texting messages to friends or trying to capture the fleeting beauty. (Thanks for the reminder Barb)

I soaked this up (thanks to my husband):

I read this:

“Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.” – Dalai Lama XIV

and this:

“There is a saying in Tibetan, 'Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.'
No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that's our real disaster.” – Dalai Lama XIV

and this:

"At the end of the day, love and compassion will win." – Terry Waite

If you came here today from a place of sadness I wish you peace. If you came here from a place of joy, I wish you growth and passion. If you came here from a place of fear, anger, pain or hurt I want you know to know there is love in the world for you, there is compassion and there is joy for you. I give you that as best as I can. Be peace, my friends.

Here is what I want you to do today: embrace joy, practice compassion, and love fully. Be peace, be peace, be peace.


Tara said...

Beautiful. I am joyous today, friend, to see your thoughts and words flowing. A Li-Young Lee poem is always pleasant as well. I will admit our lack of social media and cable TV has helped us keep perspective today. Although it doesn't seem to be popular belief in this country, one can process a tragedy upon hearing about it once. A continuous stream of unsettling reports doesn't necessarily help.

We are choosing hope, joy and beauty today. Because, really, we can't afford not to.

Pawan (Pancakes For Recess) said...

So profound. Straight from such a beautiful heart. I'm so glad I read this. xx

Kari @ Mountains of the Moon said...

Tricia, you are an amazing woman. Thank you for putting your thoughts into words, they help.

Unknown said...

I logged onto your blog for the tutorial on editable pdfs(thank you!), and got drawn in by your other posts. Reading this one now, brought tears to my eyes. Yes, an eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind, and love is the only way forward. Your thoughts resonate with mine, but am still completely humbled today by your spirit and the love and warmth it holds. Thank you for the soul food :) Warmly,