“Honor thy error as a hidden intention” ~ Brian Eno.
It is almost twenty years since the day we saw the twin towers collapse. It was one of those events that most people can honestly say, I remember where I was and what I was doing that day. Of course, for some the memories are tinged with pain, as they may have lost loved ones in the horrible explosion. My parents were still alive at the time, and were already packed and ready for one of their trips. Every other year or so after their retirement, they would leave their home in the idyllic Welsh village of Borth-y-gest (close to the Snowdonia Mountain range) and set off to visit family (including me and mine) in parts foreign.
In the aftermath of the attack, once air travel resumed, there were heightened possibilities of follow up attacks with armed national guards everywhere. I could see that travel would not be a pleasant experience. Each day we heard of delays and airport closures as possible threats were followed up. My father was the kind of traveler who planned meticulously for long journeys. He had always been the one to go to the travel agency and make the arrangements. He liked to know each detail of each step of the trip (which usually included Miami, Jamaica, and wherever my sister Pam was living at the time). We used to joke that if he could, he would have found out the name of the pilot for each leg of the trip! I could not imagine my parents (who were around 80 at the time, and only just beginning to slow down) having to deal with possible delays and upsets of his meticulous plans.
So I called them and suggested they postpone their trip (which was planned to begin the week after 9/11). I would travel instead, I would come to see them. When the world had settled down they could travel again. It so happened that in fact they never did take that trip. The next decade saw my father’s mental decline, and soon other health issues emerged for both of them. It was soon after that that I began to make yearly trips to visit them.
The following January a friend of mine was telling me her sister in England was very sick, but she couldn’t go and visit her because of her fear that another terrorist attack could occur. It was not long after the ‘shoe bomber’ had attempted to blow up a plane, and she was truly fearful it was too risky. I told her that flying for me was an act of faith every time. I still (despite understanding the physics behind it) feel it makes no sense for big heavy hunks of machinery to be able to get off the ground and stay there, held up by air currents. But I fly anyway, and do so without fear. I admonished her that as a Christian, God fearing, church attending woman, she needed to trust her God to get her there and back safely. How would she feel if her sister died and she had not seen her one last time?
My friend talked it over with her sons, and based on my encouragement, she decided to make the trip. Well, you know I scanned the news very carefully on the dates she traveled. It so happened there was a bomb scare in Paris the day she landed in London! I could see her three sons coming to look for me and hold me responsible if anything had happened to their mother! Thankfully all went well, and no bombs exploded.
It is important, if you have a set of beliefs, to live by them, otherwise, what is the point? I have always believed in the power of the mind to overcome all manner of things. I had my first lesson as a student nurse. There was a patient who was told he had a terminal disease with a horrible prognosis, yet he decided he would not stop living his best life. On the same ward there was a patient who was also told he had a terminal diagnosis which had a good prognosis; it responded well to treatment, and he could live a long life. He turned his face to the wall and was dead in a matter of weeks. That was a more important lesson than many others I learned in the classroom.
The power of intention states that what we affirm becomes fact. What we put out to the universe becomes our reality. In the old days they would have said it is positive thinking – expect the best and you will get it (the corollary is to keep planning for the worst and watch it happen, a self-fulfilling prophecy). But sometimes it is easier said than done. I often have to give pep talks to students who are so consumed by the ‘what-ifs’ that they cannot focus on the here and now. So often when we think, but what if…we only consider the worst. What if the best? Why can’t we project a great outcome, instead of a bad one!
I suspect I may be one of those ‘one-day Christians’, a person who talks the talk but does not always walk the walk. I have noticed recently that when I wake up, my jaw is clenched. Even in sleep I maintain the tension of the day, carrying the concerns and responsibilities of my job. I preach about the power of meditation, of the necessity of letting go of those petty everyday annoyances, and yet what am I holding onto? For students who do badly on tests and repeat patterns of changing answers, or over-thinking questions, I suggest they wear an elastic band around their wrist and snap it hard each time they notice that they are doing it. This is a form of conditioning, one which helps us to break harmful habits. Perhaps I need to start wearing one too!
This Friday morning, I challenge you (and me) to identify habits which are unhealthy, and then snap that band! Sometimes all we need to do is to let go with a cleansing breath and allow the positive to flow in and out of us. Perhaps we can become that calm, Zen-like figure who experiences life with a calm equanimity. As another friend would remind me: ‘Whoo-za’ – this too shall pass!
Have a wonderful weekend, Family!