Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Close the Gap

I am sitting in a familiar place. The sounds of nature surround me as I sit atop a steep hill cushioned by soft mud, twigs and little rocks. Through the tall pine trees is a ray of light that delicately falls and illuminates the Beaver's pond below. It appears to be an opening to heaven. Soothing music fills the background and I close my eyes to retreat to the silence of my mind. Without actually looking, I can see the eagle soaring high above the trees, offering a new energy, fierce protection and a reassuring mantra that brings peace, harmony and serenity to my soul. Out of the silence I hear a faint cry. Could it be an animal in search of food; a bear running through the woods? Maybe a fellow hiker has been wounded and is crying out for help. I open my eyes to sharpen my senses and follow this painful sound. The scream becomes more intense, more agonizing. As I open my eyes I suddenly find that I am no longer atop the beautiful hill sitting in tranquility and harmony. I am in my own house, walking through the living room, bumping my elbow on the dining room armoire, following the sound to its source. I arrive at the peaceful step where my daughter has been sitting for four minutes. Finally the peak of her temper tantrum begins to subside. What a rude awakening! But, hey, I got to take a break from the chaos.

Chaos is unpredictable. The word itself, as defined by Wikipedia, is derived from the Proto-Indo-Euopean root ghn or ghen meaning "gape, be wide open". Due to people misunderstanding early Christian uses of the word, the meaning of the word changed to "disorder". How does chaos start? Does the gap present itself and we blindly fall in? Chaos may be a gap in time, a gap in space or a wide open energy that is calling us to jump in and meet negativity with more negativity. The wipe open chasm that becomes a chaotic event rears its ugly head in our homes, work, country and global community. Do you become caught in the trap? In an article published in Positive Psychology News Daily (
David J. Pollay discusses the feelings of waking up happy versus waking up with random, negative thoughts. As he writes "my unattended brain will find some shred of evidence to build its negative case. And the result is that the initial bad memory or random thought captures my attention and then sets the tone for the day." We are all guilty of having those infamous "bad days" , where you think you would have been better off staying in bed instead of enduring through the endless negative circumstances of a day; spilled coffee, traffic, long lines, poor customer service. What if the cause of such chaos and negativity during the day was the result of our own free will choosing to fall into the wide open gap instead of pouring a bucket of antidote at its core?

The antidote that I refer to is serenity. Having an abiding sense of trust and faith that all is well, detaching from strong emotions and arriving at lucidity of thought. Keeping the peace. Not everybody has the self-discipline or self-awareness to invite serenity during those tough moments. Take the guy from Florida who recently attacked his father and mother with a Christmas tree and its metal stand. (
37 year-old Edward Lackie was arrested and charged with felony assault last week. He attempted to throw the 3 foot Christmas tree at his father, but luckily he missed. His parents subdued him. Being able to stop in the moment, detach, and figuratively travel to a more calming, tranquil place could have been transformative for him.

As a country we all wished and hoped for serenity and peace after the awful terrorist attacks in Mumbai. During this chaotic and tragic event, came a pure example of serenity admist turmoil. Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, 29, and his pregant wife Rivka, 28 were two of the Israeli's murdered in the Mumbai attacks. Their two-year old son Moshe, was also at the Chabad House when the attacks occurred. An angel of serenity, his Indian nanny, carried him away and protected him from harm. He is now being hailed as the "Child of all of Israel". Moshe Kotlarsky, a rabbi from New York proclaimed at his parent's memorial " You don't have a mother who will hug you and kiss you, but the community will take care of the boy. You are the child of all of Israel" ( Moshe's nanny demonstrates that in the midst of chaos, one can create tranquility and accept tests with grace and trust.

When chaos ensues, how will you respond? Before you start hurling Christmas trees or allowing one negative occurence in the morning set the tone for your day, think about detaching. Go to a special place in your mind. You've already heard about my little slice of heaven, otherwise known as Hawley Lake. Heal the wide gap of chaos with a peaceful and serene soul. Be the calm in the wind.

Peace and hope,

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