"Love can change the world in a moment...but what do I know?"
Updated: Jan 18
It goes without saying that for better or worse, January 6, 2021 was a *memorable* day to be an American.
We experienced some high highs and super low lows, to put it mildly.
It was also a beautiful day outside. I had an amazing call with a rockstar client who is doing brave things in the world. I took it out in the sun to relieve some winter cabin fever.
But during the call — Daniel Jessee surreptitiously passed me a note that only said “storming the Capitol.”
On the one hand I didn’t know what this meant, so I gave him a puzzled look and attempted to redirect my attention to my client.
But the corner of my eye caught him responding. He simply silently nodded with a look that said nothing ... but also said everything.
His silent gesture confirmed that on the other hand, deep down I knew exactly what he meant.
At first I had to contain all emotion so I could pay attention to my client. I blocked it out.
Despite my best attempts to shove down the emotion, there was an underlying feeling of both humor (the humor of disbelief and denial) and paradoxically and simultaneously, a feeling of “I’m not surprised" —
The disbelief was quickly replaced by TOTAL belief.
A DEEP, DREADFUL SENSE OF SHAME STARTED TO CREEP IN. I FELT SO DIRTY FOR NOT BEING SURPRISED. AS IF I’D SLIPPED INTO A SILENT RESIGNATION THAT "THIS IS JUST HOW IT IS IN THIS COUNTRY."
And honestly, there was a relief and a weird "told-you-so" voice of "aha! Well, it finally happened. We all knew it would. So "we" were RIGHT!"
I FELT EVEN DIRTIER THAT THERE WAS A LITTLE VOICE SILENTLY REVELING IN BEING "RIGHT."
Thankfully, the call ended (to my client -- you know who you are -- don't worry! I loved talking with you!) and I could finally allow myself to fully feel.
This cascaded into overwhelm, which then triggered a feeling of frozen helplessness.
I wanted to cry. Curl in a ball. And hide. My day and week had been SO beautiful and glorious up until this point, and now I just wanted to throw the baby out with the bathwater and conclude that it was completely ruined.
I wanted to forego the sunny bike ride I’d planned to do after getting off the call.
This whole spiral ended in a lot of anger at the world for totally "effing up" my day, and at myself for even letting myself get caught up in ... wait for it ... the JOY of the gloriousness that had been present just a split second before.
Thankfully, I'd been in this place too many times before before. I recognized it like an old friend. And I knew none of it was true.
Within an instant, another kinder, gentler little voice then came in:
“Keep moving forward. No matter what.”
You know who coined that phrase?
Buddha. (At least, that's what I hear... I can't really prove that ;-))
You know when I learned that? Yesterday morning when I was reading and meditating. 6 hours before finding out this news. Perfect divine timing.
Despite totally wanting to exercise my "inner Buddha" I resisted the voice at first, thinking it meant I was ignoring my feelings. I stopped and double checked to ensure there was no denial going on.
I realized it was not denial, but something different.
It was the voice of courage. I realized quickly could tell a different, courageous story, a different narrative. One that likely was unpopular and counter-culture.
I could feel the dark feels AND keep moving forward — continuing to radiate joy, love, and passion in all I do (a lesson I coach my clients on every day).
These things were not mutually exclusive.
The thing was-- the bullies -- those ones we saw scaling walls and ransacking offices -- they WANTED to silence and stop people from ALL "sides" and parties who were doing their best to do good for all of us.
Even though I was not on Capitol Hill, I realized if I sat around helplessly, they would get exactly what they want.
So I got on the bike.
The feelings weren't GONE. And I needed to summon quite a bit of resolve to keep moving forward.
I also needed to grant myself grace that it would also be ok if I did only curl in a ball and not keep moving forward. That it was ok to freeze and feel.
Both options were loving and courageous.
It wasn't an either-or, as if one was right and courageous and one was wrong and cowardly.
So, I chose both/and. I resolved to ride, then curl in said ball and be with the emotions afterward. I resolved to pray for our country and everyone — black, white, red, blue, democrat, republican, lawmaker, protestor, president...you name it -- WHILE riding the bike AND while curled in a ball.
As I rode—I certainly found an old outlet. An old friend came to the party. It was the athlete in me who used to use sport as a way to feel and surrender anger.
I hadn’t really seen that athlete in about 13 years.
She used to put her head underwater and didn’t have to interact with other humans when she felt angry — at herself, at others, at the world.
Once sport was over, she went into a career. There was never time for exercise or sport. Career became sport. She was always around humans. So there was no appropriate outlet for anger. She shoved it down.
It turned inward.
Self-judgment, self-criticism and shame bred perfectionism, overachieving, and physical illness.
Anger -- and any emotion for that matter -- became “wrong” and “mean” to feel or experience.
It would eventually find its way out -- through panic attacks, cancer, cancer treatment, deep spiritual healing, and much more.
This day in 2021, though, was different. I’d let go of much of that baggage — and the anger was met with grace. Humility. And acceptance.
A new leaf had been turned from that old athlete.
It was ok to feel. And ok to keep moving forward.
As I rode, the anger lifted as it had once done for the old athlete inside of me. But becuase my head was not underwater, I could look around.
The sun shone brighter. The bleak winter colors of the mountains grew vivid. Love was everywhere.
The most beautiful undeniable truth uncovered itself as everpresent in my heart -- all people are worthy of love and only love, including those who protested and rioted and even those who may or may not have triggered and abetted it.
Yes, even them.
People who inflict pain or harm are not unlovable. People who experience emotions are not unlovable. People who do unthinkable things are not unlovable.
They are people FIRST. They are NOT what they do. They are not their actions.
Let's be clear, I'm not condoning the actions. And I believe strongly in consequences, boundaries, and accountability.
But if we're upset about people treating others in inhumane ways, then we do just as much of a crime when we say we wish they would get shot, or die, or suffer some terrible punishment or "get what they deserve."
It allows us to see them as a them.
As a lesser-than "other."
Which means, by that logic, we get to wish that less-than-human things happen to them. We wish they would be treated inhumanely. It allows us to call them names and point fingers.
And if we wish that less than human things happen to others, it also means unconsciously, it's what we wish for ourselves. (Don't believe me? Look it up!)
And as my ride concluded, Spotify picked a very appropriate song from one of my favorite artists - Ed Sheeran. He has some great songs that have played alongside my spirit and heart through some very unexpected tough times.
I’d never really paid much attention to this particular song though — I knew it was a joyful tune and knew all the lyrics but hadn’t really HEARD them in my bones until that day.
Here is a snippet of some of the lyrics:
🎶“...The revolution's coming, it's a minute away
I saw people marching in the streets today
You know we are made up of love and hate
But both of them are balanced on a razor blade
I'll paint the picture, let me set the scene
I know, I'm all for people following their dreams
Just re-remember life is more than fittin' in your jeans
It's love and understanding, positivity
We could change this whole world with a piano
Add a bass, some guitar, grab a beat and away we go
I'm just a boy with a one-man show
No university, no degree, but lord knows
Everybody's talking 'bout exponential growth
And the stock market crashing in their portfolios
While I'll be sitting here with a song I wrote
Sing, love could change the world in a moment
But what do I know?
Love can change the world in a moment
But what do I know?
Love can change the world in a moment
I'll paint the picture, let me set the scene
You know, the future's in the hands of you and me
So let's all get together, we can all be free
Spread love and understanding, positivity...”🎶
Just like the song, I had chosen to see that love and pain can mutually exist. They're balanced on a razor blade.
I smiled as these lyrics played while I pedaled along.
Love can eradicate the pain. But pain is not wrong. It is not the opposite of love. It's not an either/or. We can seek and strive for love AND still experience pain as it slowly heals.
Choosing love and joy does not deny pain.
It is not the path of passivity. It doesn’t mean I don’t give a shit (though I have been accused of that!) or that I’m toxically positive (I have also been accused of that).
I was once on death’s door and had every reason to give up and choose despair. It hurt. Everything was terrible. Trust me.
AND — I still made the unpopular and counter-culture choice to choose love WITH pain.
It's not love OR pain.
In those dark days, I chose to keep moving forward, no matter what. And having walked that journey many times before, I did the same yesterday.
And I chose it many other days as well-- like the day I took the photo for this post. It was a perfect day of love and pain.
I mean, I was even wearing the shirt!
For context—what you can’t see behind the photo:
I was playing “Happy Birthday” and recording to send to my bestie for her birthday. I also found out this day that Apsen, the pup, is obsessed with the Clarinet. I mean, would you look at those ears and those adoring eyes?
We'd also just "celebrated" (If you can call it that) the 1 year anniversary of tragically losing our first pup. So there was a lot o f pain here, too.
But the love and joy didn’t start or stop there. The love I felt in playing the clarinet had begun many moons before.
Several years ago during a.dark time, I chose to do what Ed Sheeran saiid — “grab a bass, some guitar, grab a beat, and away we go.”
I play neither bass nor guitar.
But back in 6th and 7th gradeI LOVED Playing the clarinet. I felt so connected to joy, love, meaning when I did. My favorite songs were from Forrest Gump and the Lion King.
And how cool was it that from NOTHING — with a simple tool — this instrument and some sheet music — I could produce something so magical and beautiful?
Rather, that the love and creativity that are always surrounding us could be captured and moved THROUGH me and this instrument?
So on a whim as a 34 year old, off to re-teaching myself the clarinet—JUST FOR THE HELL OF IT—I went.
And interestingly, making music, just like making art (I also love drawing and painting) and moving my body has almost always been the place I go when I feel pain.
Panic attacks? Tons of art. And movement.
Cancer? Tons or art. And movement.
The long process of post-cancer recovery? All of the above.
Terrible experiences like those can mutually exist with love and pain. Balanced on a razor blade.
So for me--on the bike, in the water, on paper with art, or via the clarinet — LOVE has manifested every time even amidst great pain—and it helped change the world — my world—in each moment.
Music, Art, and. Movement don’t know politics. They don’t stop at or judge skin color or religion.
They connect ALL OF US.
With each other.
With a higher power.
As the song said -- “Love will change the world in a moment…but what do I know? “
So I turn this onto you. We can SAY all day that in response to this and so many other divisive events, that we need to love each other more.
Yes, we do.
But that's the end game.
It takes small steps, patience, courage, and repetitive practice -- just like it has for me.
How do we take baby steps to slowly heal and put that into action?
We can’t come back to each other until we find ourselves as individuals again or for the very first time... We. can't love our neighbors as we'd love ourselves unless we give ourselves permission to TRULY find that inner sense of love and joy that is inside of each of us.
Once we find that, it can subsequently spills out from our hearts to the point we have no option but to connect ourselves to each other.
So I ask you to deeply consider--WHAT is it that helps you feel most connected to yourself?
How do you most deeply feel and experience love?
And how do you share that with others? How can you reconnect to that?
We won’t the "what" in a political party or a law.
We won’t find it on facebook or twitter or in the groups we join (though that may be one way to connect with others).
We won’t find it in our jobs or our work (though that may be how we EXPRESS our joy, for sure).
We won't find it in pursuing a perfect body, in our meal plans, or in our lab tests.
We won't find it in accolades or gold stars or sports achievements or promotions or pay checks.
We won’t find it in our houses or bank accounts or the things we own.
No, love and happiness come from within. From a source of higher power so deeply engrained within ourselves it's not actually a "you" or "me" at all.
So often we look for love and joy OUT THERE -- so that when those things are lost or blown up or taken from us -- we feel we have lost love and joy altogether.
And yes--things out there (people we love, for example) are a great way to co-experience love and joy. Joining hands and breaking bread with someone else can undoubtedly amplify what is already inside of us.
But it's still -- already inside of us.
Nobody has the power to take away love or joy.
This also means nobody has the power to create or discover it for us.
But they can influence us to create or discover it for ourselves (hence the work of the people you love to be around whose love and joy seems infectious!)
Or --they can trigger us to deny it for ourselves (hence the work of bullies and people who attempt to intimidate or. oppress).
Keep moving forward, no matter what.
Love can change the world in a moment.
Fittingly, 4 hours before the news broke in the US Capitol, this theme came up for me again in. the most beautiful of ways.
I believe the first baby step was unintentionally painted for us all in this interview.
I had the beautiful opportunity to interview the fabulous Kate T. Parker of Kate T. Parker Photography yesterday. I was interviewing her as a guest expert for my Health Pros for Healthy Teens Course.
She brought up a question she asks the people (kids, teens) she photographs for her amazing books —
“IF I took one snapshot of you in JOY, what would it look like?”
And she adds one qualification:
“Take out friends and family…then tell me what love and joy looks like for YOU.”
Honestly, when she told me about this question, I took pause.
I have answered this question no short of 1 million times in the last 7+ years that I have transformed my life. Most of the time it's at the forefront of my mind.
And I help people do it all day, every day. It’s at the crux of my work — in helping PTs and health pros discover meaningful lives, businesses, and careers they love and reflect what they truly value.
But yesterday — I paused when she asked. I needed to get back into that inner space where the answer to this question was crystal clear-- where that inner joy and happiness were eternally sourced. I simply couldn't see it when she asked.
It had been muddied over by what’s going on in the news. By my own work and to-do list that day. I'd lost the connection, even if for a moment.
I’m so grateful we had that conversation yesterday (thanks for the inadvertent life coaching, Kate!). Without it, I'm not sure I would have "bounced back" to my own center, gotten on the bike, and continued moving forward no matter what.
There is still a lot of pain and darkness to acknowledge, sift through, and navigate. But there is also an unyielding sense of love and joy, even amidst the darkness.
And don’t forget — the darkest hour comes just before the dawn.
So I challenge you to answer that question — Kate’s question— If a photograph were taken of you RIGHT NOW — and you were fully embodying joy (independent from friends and family)… what would it look like?
Where would you be?
What would the weather be like?
What would you be doing? Or not doing?
And how can you bring more moments like that into your life?
And I’ll add a follow up question—
What would it look like — in a photo — to embody joy and love — even if you are also experiencing pain?
Extra bonus points: go out and have someone take this photo of you fully embodying joy. Even if there is also pain.
Disclaimer: If you don't feel like embodying joy AND you are in pain, that is ok too. You do you, friend. It's completely normal to not want to do something joyful especially when life is painful.
PS Keep an eye out for Kate T. Parker's new book on JOY coming out in late 2021/early 2022, and definitely check out her current works: Strong is the New Pretty, Heart of a Boy, and Play Like a Girl.