Last Friday during a break in a busy day of clients, I went to check my phone and see a text pop up on the screen from my step-daughter saying “I’m alive.”
I stop what I’m doing: “WTF?!”
I unlock the screen and see another text saying “It’s horrible what’s happening here.”
I instantly write back asking, “Are you OK?! What’s happening?!”
I get no response and instantly go into a state of panic. I go online and google “Paris.”
I see the news and the live video coverage of the shootings, the wounded and general state of fear and chaos.
Never before has it been so hard to be apart from my family in another country.
At the same time, I feel such gratitude that during such an event I can receive texts on my phone letting me know that she is safe.
I have to tear myself away from the computer and force myself to breath, drink some water and shake it off otherwise I’d be frozen in fear.
It reminds me of September 11, 2001. I woke up to my husband shouting from the living room to “COME!”
For hours, we stood frozen in front of the television watching the news replay video coverage of the planes colliding with the twin towers over and over and over.
Moments like these disrupt normal reality. And how fortunate I am to say that my normal reality does not include bombs, shooting, murder and torture. I know many people in parts of the world where they face this every single day.
I am left with fear and a sense of hopeless and helplessness. What can I do?
I study the arguments on social media and notice that for every person who stands for one thing, another person argues it.
“Pray for Paris! Don’t pray for Paris, pray for all the countries that have been terrorized that no one pays attention to!”
“Pray for the world! No don’t just pray, do something! Humanity caused this, humanity must fix this!”
“Fight terrorism! No, ‘an eye for an eye has never worked. Have more love in the world!”
What then? How do we make sense of the fact that we live in a world where war, terror, torture and senseless killing exists?
Sitting in the middle of fear and a feeling of helplessness, I notice I have a choice.
Being frozen in fear is not going to help anyone. It’s only going to compromise my own quality of life and reduce my capacity to help others.
Instead, I have chosen FIERCE LOVE AND GRATITUDE.
I have to ask myself, what is my life REALLY about?
If I died tomorrow would I have regrets about how I’ve lived?
Usually, the first instinct is to call everyone I know and say “THANK YOU. I LOVE YOU.”
And then I take stock: what is it that ACTUALLY matters? What is it that is REALLY important? Have I truly lived?
In my last post, I wrote about having “high-quality problems” compared to the people living in third world country on as little as $1 a day.
Recent events add to an even deeper internal reflection.
There are no easy answers and each person has to come to those answers for themselves.
What I can say is that I’ve had fear in some form or another for most of my life and apart from freaking me out and keeping me worried and frozen, it’s never been that helpful. In times of danger-YES, that fear was VERY useful. But when it’s been hypothetical fear, that “what if?” kind of thinking…that fear based thinking has only stopped me from living fully.
If I can’t take for granted that life is a given, then I have to be accountable for how I live each moment I have.
Today, I choose fierce love and gratitude.
Music is more precious than ever in times like this with its ability to say what words cannot, to give us permission to FEEL what must be felt and to bring people together when community is essential.
I invite you to join me. Great music needs open-hearted people. And the more people choosing love instead of fear invite others to do the same.
In that spirit I express to you THANK YOU. I LOVE YOU.