Long lines. Stern brows. Haggard faces. Curt replies. Welcome to the world of airline flights in America. I laugh and smile. It is infectious. Welcome to the world of being creator of our perceived reality. Both worlds are equally true. All realities exist simultaneously, and it can be overwhelming, frustrating, confusing, and deeply sad. It can also be peaceful, joyous, beautiful, and loving. So much of it lies in perspective.
We live our lives as if our perspectives, beliefs, and morals are what is fact for the world. When in actuality they are only fact to us. This is not to say that we should not have these feelings and beliefs. Rather, it is just a window to allow us to see where freedom and liberation lie for ourselves.
For example, when someone is acting in a way that I find annoying or frustrating, if I follow the path that says, “Wow, are they frustrating or annoying!” I am then imprisoned by that thought. When I get that I am the creator of my reality and take responsibility for the fact that I am the one choosing “annoyed” or “frustrated”, all of a sudden a whole new world possibility opens up. In this space, I can actually choose being amused or being deeply compassionate; whatever serves my peace and freedom most in the situation. This is a milder example, but let’s transfer the same idea onto dropping bombs in Iraq, and witnessing thousands of innocent people killed. Everything in me cries out against this injustice. I see the pictures of the mangled children’s bodies, and deep sobs feel like they are going to split me into a million shards. But the minute I go into making wrong, being judgmental, and making others evil for what they are doing, any opportunity for peace or love is quickly destroyed. All of a sudden, I can only experience frustration, anger, and other thoughts and feelings that allow me no room to continue experiencing the miracle of life even in the face of such atrocities.
People say, “But shouldn’t we be outraged!?” And my response when I drop deep within myself is, “What good will the outrage serve?” and, “Do I have to have outrage in order to be inspired to take action?” For myself the answer is, “No.” Not that I do not have moments of outrage and even anger, but I do not choose to live my life from this place. When I feel these feelings emerge, I quickly remember that I am the one creating these feelings, and from this place I choose what will bring me the most freedom, peace, and joy in the moment. Choosing love, compassion, and even joy does not mean that I approve or condone something that is happening. It means that I recognize that what is happening is what is happening. And that’s it. All meaning about what is happening is the meaning I ascribe to it. In this space, I am truly the creator of my reality.
I know this is easier said than done. And I know there is a certain amount of privilege in my being able to say these things—after all there are no bombs dropping in my neighborhood currently. But what I keep coming back to in my life is that if I want to take empowered action in my life and in my world, I have to constantly look at what gets in my way of doing so. Where in my life am I allowing circumstances, and my reactions to them, control or constrict me? Can I face the atrocities in my world with love and peace; not only in action, but in thought as well?
If my experience in the bustling airport today is any sign, then “Yes!” continues to be the most empowered choice I find. I choose what is happening because it is what is happening. Resisting it doesn’t make it change. Should have, would have, could have doesn’t change what is so; it only torments my mind. Standing powerfully in what is so, I then can choose what I create from that space. In this space, I choose powerfully including if it directs me to stand against violence in the world, because first and foremost, it creates the ground where I choose to stand for love and act through love.
I am human, so I make mistakes. I fall short of my commitments. There are deep, dark nights of my soul where I rage at what hurts my open heart so deeply. And then, I breathe through it, let it go, and once again choose love as the place from which I stand and act. This is not an ultimate truth. For me, it is just about constantly looking for where I can create more freedom, joy, and love in my life and in the world. I know that the only way to have these things is to BE them and live them.
May we all live love with every thought, word, and action… especially when it is difficult.
julia butterfly hill