Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Bringing the light to every situation

Recently I came across this Facebook post by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’

Years ago I was on the midtown cross-town bus in NYC, in evening rush hour, in January, in the sleeting wind and rain… The bus moved at a crawl, and everyone on it seemed depressed. It would've been far faster to walk across town, but the weather was too godawful to bear. Everyone was definitely hating their life that day.

When we reached 10th Ave, the bus driver made a surprising announcement.

He said, "Ladies and Gentleman, we are now nearing the Hudson River. I'm going to ask you to do me a favor. When you get off the bus, I'm going to hold out my hand. As you walk past me, I want you to drop your troubles into the palm of my hand. I'll take your troubles for you, and when I drive past the river, I'll throw them in. The reason I want to do this is because you all seem like you've had a bad day, and I don't want you taking all your worries and sorrows home to your friends and families now. Because they deserve better than that, don't they? So you just leave your troubles here with me to dispose of, and you all go have a wonderful night, OK?"

The whole bus — the whole grumpy lot of us — broke into laughter. (Some of us, myself included, might have even shed a tear or two.) And one by one, as we filed off the bus, we dropped our troubles into the palm of this good man's hand, and we stepped off the bus with smiles on our faces.

What that guy did? That's the best and most powerful example I've ever personally witnessed of TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE ENERGY THAT YOU BRING INTO A SPACE.

The quote I've posted here today is from the great Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor, a neurologist who had a stroke, and who wrote about it in her beautiful book MY STROKE OF INSIGHT. (If you aren't one of the 15 million people who already watched her incredible TED Talk, here it is)

When Jill had her stroke, she lost all function in the part of her brain that distinguishes "self" from "other". She lost the ability to tell where she began and the rest of the world ended. There were no boundaries, no borders. All she could see was pure molecular energy. While she was recovering in the hospital, doctors and nurses would walk in and out of her room all day, and the only thing she could distinguish about them was their energy — the anger, or grace, or kindness, or resentment that each person brought into her presence. Some of that energy was healing and helpful, obviously...some of it was decidedly not. When Jill recovered enough to do so, she asked for a sign to be written, to hang outside her room: TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE ENERGY THAT YOU BRING INTO THIS SPACE.

Oprah told this story the other night at The Life You Want Tour, and I loved it.

You've heard me talk before about BRINGING THE LIGHT to any and every situation. That's what it's all about. This is the same deal. That's what the bus driver understood that day on 10th Ave — that the crosstown midtown bus was HIS SPACE, and that he needed to take responsibility for its energy. So he turned that energy around, and managed to transform people's gloom into pure grace.

Wherever you work, wherever you live, wherever you shop, exercise, study, travel — wherever you go — take note of the energy that you bring. Pause before you enter into any space (from the dentist's office, to your cousin's house, to a cathedral) and ask yourself what you're bringing in there.

Identify your energy, and take responsibility for it.

Whatever needs to be thrown in the river, by all means: toss it.

Hope this inspires you as it did for me.

With lots of smiles,