Last week, I talked briefly about the stuff happening in Boston. My feelings have been really strong about this, but I needed an extra week to really come up with what I wanted to say.
When huge tragedies occur like Boston, Sandy Hook, Columbine, 9-11, our collective conscious goes into panic mode. We fixate on these ugly events as if somehow, knowing more information will explain the inexplicable. As if every detail, every suspicion, every theory, every shot of the despair and carnage will somehow bring us closer to peace, cure the ache of loss, or make us feel safer.
But they don't.
Unfortunately, all those "breaking news" updates, all those talking heads, scary videos, and scrolling tickers across the bottom of the screen? They know this about us. They exploit our fears. They know how much we hate to be vulnerable and so they keep us scared and shake our faith.
I'm not saying you should take a hammer to your TV, nor am I saying that our hearts shouldn't ache when tragedy strikes.
I am simply asking myself this question: at what point does our reaction to grief become loving more deeply? It's a challenge to switch off our TVs, put down the newspapers, and put our energies into seeing the abundance of goodness around us, even in the midst of sadness. I refuse to focus on the fear, the worry, the inevitability of death we all face. People who terrorize want your attention. Look at the word itself: TERRORize. TERROR. Extreme fear.
They want to scare you. Don't let them.
It's not always easy, BUT I CHOOSE FAITH.
And not just the kind you find in church. No, I'm talking a deep faith in the goodness of the universe, in the kindness of people, in the beauty of wonder, in the uncertainty of the future, in the power of vulnerability, and the magic of love.
If I'm to make a conscious effort of how I want to live my life, I need to start with my thoughts and let them shape my actions. Not just in times of tragedy or times of great heartache, but in the moments when the run-of-the-mill worries start creeping:
"If I wear the wrong thing, I'll look stupid." "If I say no, they will stop inviting me." "If I do x, y, z maybe I will prevent that all from happening to me."
One of my most current inspirations is a woman named Jennifer Pastiloff. She started (among many other ways of spreading more love, faith, hope, and beauty in the world), the 5 MOST BEAUTIFUL THINGS PROJECT, inspired by the Mary Oliver poem, Wild Geese.
(photo credit: @seeke via Pinterest)
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
Imagine what it would be like if we stopped each hour and consciously looked for beauty? What might happen? Would that shift our collective conscious? Would we crane our necks to see a field of flowers instead of the mangled accident on the side of the road? If we all shifted our focus to love and goodness, I think beautiful things might start happening. We have the power to create a culture of love around us. Will you join me?
Every hour, or as often as you can, stop. Look around. Write down the 5 most beautiful things you see in that moment.
It's that easy.
And please share! Join the conversation on my Facebook page, or over on Twitter and let me know what you find that's beautiful. Be sure to also visit Jennifer Pastiloff's official 5 Most Beautiful Things page so we can all check in and be inspired.
P.S. Stay tuned, because on May 1, I'm launching a photo challenge over on Instagram to assist us in spreading even more love. And of course, each week, Tuesday at 7:30 PDT, join us and our friends at Taim Boutique in Laguna Beach, CA as we #givesomeoneacompliment and flood Twitter feeds with goodness.