As another Star-Spangled Banner weekend closes, it is now the 5th of July and I can still hear cadences of firecracker-like-sounds. At this stage in my life I am well aware that I have lots of opinions about things I cannot change.
What helps me stay calm is the powerful tool of the re-frame. Looking at things from a new perspective (the re-frame) comes in handy to calm me down and stop any free-fall into the rabbit hole of self-pity and discomfort about the fact that I am not in charge – of anything really, other than my reactions to things.
I can’t stop fireworks from happening, even though I think it a real waste of public money and has lost any authentic celebratory feeling (for me).
I am reminded how I used to love fireworks as a kid.
I have some memory of Jiminy Cricket and the Disney castle fireworks as hopeful and comforting. But the experience has changed for me. Now the loud, jolting, boom, bang, and rapid machine-gun-like sounds no longer give me a sense of wonder. I don’t think I will ever get the images from the “shock and awe” of our attack on Iraq. Those images looked and sounded too much to me to be fireworks. They were presented on the news as something to celebrate. Those bombs bursting in air did tremendous damage on land to life and property. I can’t change that, and I yet it seems impossible to be removed from the invasion of fireworks.
Each year I have more success in re-framing the experience. When I hear the sound or catch a glimpse of a distant burst of color high in the sky I declare them to be healing events. As each flare produced by potassium, copper, cobalt, and lithium atoms ignites I attach a prayer with the request that the sounds and the bursts of are all intended to improve our conscious contact with a higher power. That somehow we will be drawn to new positive possibilities for human-kind.
As each cylinder filled with the chemicals necessary to create the burst of colors heads toward the sky I attach this focus a clear request to some higher universal power greater than me. I pray that sanity, tolerance, and peaceful compassion rain down upon all of us as the light cascades toward earth. I ask that the smoke that lingers provide reflection. I ask that the blasts of gunpowder and combustibles get our attention and awaken us as a country that there is much healing that needs to be done right here at home so that freedom and shelter and education and civil rights are available for every citizen.
Life feels good and I get a sobering feeling of joy when I can find beauty in things even when I don’t like them, or I don’t want them to be happening. Of course I’d rather have the money spent on fireworks go to re-ignite abstract thinking in our schools so kids learn there is more than one answer to any one question and that hate is too easy and tolerance critical for true peace to exist for any of us. I want that but I am not in charge of anything except my reaction.
I have committed myself to acceptance that there will continue to be times when there are fireworks more than once a year. But today, being the spiritual warrior that I strive to be, I do not put the pillow over my head wishing it would all just stop. Now each time they happen I will continue to send my prayers up as I look forward to positive change on the planet as peaceful possibilities come to us as the light heads toward earth.
I hope your Fourth of July was filled with love, light, laughter and healing. Dr. Noe