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Posted By Opening the Heart

   After the 9/11 tragedy, I remember that for many weeks afterward, walking on public streets was a whole new experience. What I remember is that many times people made eye contact with each other and even smiled and I asked myself what was it that caused this poignant, deeper connection with strangers that I had walked past hundreds of times before without any eye contact or recognition or kind greeting. I'm really convinced that 9/11 caused a deeper recognition of ourselves. I think what we recognized after 9/11, or after any hard life jolt, was our common humanity, our deep connectiveness and our vulnerability.

   I find myself coming back to the theme of perspective. I see a patient who is dying of inoperable pancreatic cancer. He came to see me one morning and the weather was rainy and cold. In an unconscious moment, perhaps to make small talk or to put him at ease, I said "Pretty dreary weather". He smiled and said "You know, Jon, I have a different way of thinking about the weather now. If it's cold, I put on an extra sweater. If it's wet, I take an umbrella.... I'm just glad to be alive". His words brought me into an immediate place of understanding and perspective in the same way, I think, that 9/11 brought such hard clarity to many of us....

   I don't know how many of you may be lucky enough to be a grandparent, but I became a "Grumpy" for the second time almost a month ago. Don't worry, I am not going to bore you with the amazing cuteness and accomplishments of these Beings of Light (although watching my 15 month old on Facetime take her first two steps alone, and hearing about my new granddaughter turning over at not even one month old- Get outta town!) No, I'm taking this in a different direction that, again, brings us back to perspective.

   I was at the checkout counter at the grocery store where I shop and a young woman checking out was carrying an adorable 4 month old baby, while at the same time, trying to get out her credit card. The baby was facing back, looking at the next person in line, a middle-aged man. The man made a big, warm, kind smile at the baby, and I thought "What is there about a baby that evokes this automatic, kind welcoming?" In my mind I erased the baby and tried to imagine the man's same kind smile toward the mother (now without the baby). Doesn't work, does it? Who knows, but my guess is that the smile would have been ignored or misunderstood, not taken in.

   It did occur to me that every one of us still carries that baby, or small inner child within us that keeps looking at the world and asking "Do you like me?" And when we experience that kind smile, that unconditional welcome, we tend to feel seen, held, accepted, even loved. There is, I think, a spritual principle that says we must be prepared to give what we most want to receive. So, I decided to try being the Prime Mover. That is,I committed for one week to just give a friendly smile to anyone I saw that I didn't know. Rather than waiting to see if they would welcome me, I gave the welcome, the kindness first. What I did was I aimed the smile beneath the adult exterior, the mask, directly to that adorable baby inside. I really experienced feeling better by "being the change we want to be". Many times, my smile was returned just as that little baby smiled naturally at being welcomed at the checkout counter.

   With Love and Respect, Jon  Jon

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