I have been having recurrent nightmares about mass shootings. On Sunday morning, after one such dream, I woke up in a funk. My body was holding a very uncomfortable anxiety and my brain was racing to try to connect a reason to the feeling.
I started downward spiraling, bumming about our finances, the violence in the world, and the sexual predation that is plaguing the news. I just couldn't shake it. I don't normally hold anxiety, so it seemed very heavy to a body unaccustomed to carrying it. It was like the world took a large measure of its collective suffering and said, "Here. You hold it for a while."
I spent the whole day completely withdrawn from my family, unable to do anything productive with myself. I decided to run to the grocery store nearby to pick up a couple of things I had forgotten earlier in the week.
The checkout line was long. At the end of the aisle there was a magazine, I think it was TIME, and the cover was just a Rolodex of cities that have been affected by mass shootings. Las Vegas was highlighted as the last one.
The magazine hadn't even been on the stands long enough to cover the Texas shooting. Brutal.
Admittedly, I'm not usually very engaged when I'm in a dialogue pertaining to a transaction. So it was a little out of character for me when I looked the man behind the counter in the eye and genuinely asked him how he was doing.
"Amazing," he said. And he meant it.
"Amazing?" I said, "That's refreshing."
I don't know how to articulate the magnitude of what happened next. His eyes changed. They looked into and through me. They somehow saw my pain and I could feel him beaming a compassion so fierce and intense that it paused the whirl of activity around us. Before my eyes, he transmuted from a clerk behind a conveyor belt, into a Buddha. And, as if to punctuate my intuition that he was seeing into and through me, he said,
"I am amazing, and you should be too. We are here to be amazing and to send out our small pulses of love out into whatever space we are in. It's all we can do, and it's what the world needs if we are going to stop killing each other."
I tried to resist, but tears found their way down my cheeks. I was blown open. That the universe could pause for a few moments from its design work, to inhabit the spirit of this man, to reflect to me Truth in such a profound and unexpected way----it was everything I needed in that moment. It hurtled me down through the obscurity of my funk, and into the open embrace of a forgotten humility. I left that grocery store with a Hallelujah on my lips------and a reminder of what I am here on the Earth plane to do.
I took this experience into childcare this week. I have been using our "calm down" books with the kids when their emotions flare, with some varying degrees of success. In class yesterday, I was explaining the emotion balloons and putting names to the expressions I had drawn on them. We talked about feeling proud, and scared, and lonely, and unheard. Then just before the day ended yesterday, we had a breakthrough.
One of my little guys was spiraling into breakdown. There had been a series of small aggravations that had compounded over a short period of time, and the last trigger sent him into a fury. He wasn't responding to my "little book" so I put him in another bedroom to cry it out for a minute or two.
When I went back in, I came with the emotion balloons. I asked him if he could point to which balloon was feeling the way he was. He pointed to the black balloon and said, "That one. I'm feeling lonely." When I asked him why he felt lonely, he said, "I miss my mom and dad."
His crying stopped. His little fingers squished the playdough inside the balloon and his rage shifted to a genuine and embodied loneliness. I watched him successfully navigate through his anger, uncover what was motivating his behavior, and put a name to it. He's
2 1/2. I was floored.
I guess I doubted that this type of education could reach kids this young. It was so instructive to me; for him to show me that he was capable of an emotional intelligence that is unreachable for many adults. It reminded me of how important this work is, and that these children, are in many ways, little Buddhas.
What a gift and an honor to be given the great responsibility to help them open their eyes to what and who they really are. These children are my small pulses of love......and this is how I'm sending them out into the universe.
I feel pretty amazing about that.