As we experience and observe the way America's mental mindset continues to evolve/devolve, I take this opportunity to use my voice to shed new perspective via this blog-post intended to spark education, transformation and introspection.
Let's start here . . .
"A belief is just a thought you keep thinking."
We all believe something. We all have a passion for something. We all have the ability to support, inspire or encourage something or insult, complain, protest and tear it down. We all think and keep thinking thousands of thoughts per day. We all have feelings - like love, fear - as well as expectations, wants and emotions but most importantly, we ALL have control of over our emotions and feelings.
Recently, I heard of a wonderful story while parents were on a beach vacation and taking a walk during sunset...
As it goes, this sweet boy comes confidently walking right up to the daughter of another family who happens to be walking directly toward his family. He shares with her the shark's tooth around his neck. She shows him the seashell that she picked up. He tells her his name and asks her name to which she tells him. They part ways while saying many cute goodbyes and waves, going in opposite directions.
A few minutes later he comes running back, in what seems like slow motion, yelling the girl's name at the top of his lungs. The sweet girl turns and looks and is greeted by his engaging smile. Again, they chat a bit more, and the families allow this to take place. The topic stays mainly about his super cool shark's tooth that, now he says, gives him special powers. Before it was time to move along, the girl's mom asked to take a photo and this was the result.
Pure innocence. Pure joy. Pure positive energy.
When it was time t0 finally go, there were no tears. No tantrums. They simply hugged for a long time and exchanged about twenty cute goodbyes and a lot of waving their hands in the air until both families were out of sight from one another.
In this exchange, we are reminded of a few things. First and foremost, joy!
As adults, the innocence we have when we are children is replaced with belief (thoughts we have learned along the way, and thoughts we continue to think and that we allow to continue to shape us and our thinking.)
Next, we have connection. They didn't see race differences or gender differences. They saw like-type, youthful, innocent energy and simply made a connection.
Sharing. They didn't compete. They shared. "See my shark's tooth." "Look I have a seashell."
Commonality. They're both young kiddos, nearly the same height and age. They have some things in common and it's more important to them to focus on the energy and the common things that connect them and bring them together and bond them. They don't see each other as "different." They don't repel because of differences. The don't want to depart or break their unique connection but they know they need to move on for the evening with their families.
When I learn of a story like this, I challenge myself, and I challenge my own beliefs. I was just like this little boy and I absolutely love the beach and I love meeting all kinds of new people. I can absolutely relate to this story.
Why is it that we have to take it back to when we were innocent, young, children to best explain to ourselves (or others) about our already soul-given, inner-ability to connect with everyone on earth just as these two random souls connected on a beach?
If you don't focus on your already-given ability to be this every day, and walk-the-talk, this inner ability fades.
At the time of writing this blog-post, I'm 52 years old and while I still believe that I still have this ability, and I still exhibit much of my innocence. It's no surprise that with each passing year the fade-away challenges me. I look in the mirror most days and I still see me at 28 years but there is no mystery that life, over time, hardened that innocent sand castle-building boy into a man with new thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and emotions based on a lifetime of living, experiencing, observing and learning.
All these years later, I still have conversations with myself where I remind myself each day that today (and everyday) I am in control of my thoughts, emotions, feelings, beliefs and expectations, and more so, I am in control of my behavior.
"Behavior is what you say and do AND what you don't say and don't do."
I ask myself questions like this all the time:
How have I changed?
Do I like who I've become?
What do I believe?
Am I proud of those beliefs?
How can I challenge my beliefs?
Do I approach with love or with fear?
How do I harness the power of love even more in my life?
How can I be better?
...and many others...
"Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad, were teachers who taught LOVE. Love was their religion."
Please ponder this for a moment, for Buddha was not a Buddhist. Jesus was not a Christian and Muhammad was not a Muslim. They were teachers who taught love and love was their religion.
When I visited Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Great Mosque's in Saudi Arabia, India, Cathedrals of The Vatican and the site of Fatima in Portugal all in the mid-1990s during my early career in the cruise travel industry, it was during this period of my life, when it became clearly vivid to me that love is at the core of all of these worldly teachings.
Q. So, how has this one belief helped me in my life?
A. I approach life from an open-minded place of LOVE which comes from an inner belief-system built from my personal 52 years of life. I also take control of my behavior (definition above) and I own my behavior in situations with others. By no means perfect, I simply do my very best to approach situations from a place of love and take something at face value and try to challenge my own beliefs to better appreciate it, find love in it and do my very best to understand it. There's a lesson in it. It has value. It is teaching me something if I look deep enough.
Recently, the site www.lonleyplanet.com, posted a wonderful article about Eureka Springs, Arkansas on their International travel website. A resident here in Eureka Springs shared the link to it on their Facebook page and the share-post landed over 1300 comments that blew my mind.
Visitors that once loved Eureka Springs and visited in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s said in these comments that they will never return to Eureka Springs now that it has been "taken over" by rainbow flags and what those flags represent.
First of all, it must be said, (and I probably speak for many Eurekans) that it is highly unlikely that there will ever be or could we ever see a future Eureka Springs described as "taken over."
This place is far too diverse and far too inclusive to be "taken over" by any one thing. As far as I can see, the ONLY thing that has ever completely taken over Eureka Springs is the energy of LOVE. The rainbow flag is, in fact, a symbol of love. The rainbow flag represents love. Children of all ages smile when they see a multi-colored rainbow. A real rainbow in the sky elicits joy.
Our beliefs are quite powerful and watching that incident unfold on that travel website taught me that someone can see a rainbow flag and then think unloving thoughts. That, too, blew my mind.
Take this in for a moment:
Musicians love it here.
Bikers love it here.
Shoppers love it here.
Entrepreneurs love it here.
Nature-lovers love it here.
LGBTQIA+ people love it here.
Writers love it here.
Bicyclists love it here.
People from all denominations love it here.
Hikers love it here.
Artists love it here.
The list goes on . . .
Eureka Springs is proud to deliver messages of love (even with our flags of many colors) to show and tell people from all walks of life that we love you. We are a radically inclusive community that proudly exclaims: "Everyone is welcome."
The comments, however, in this Lonely Planet post were unnecessary. Fear-driven. Unloving.
Although contrast in our life is quite important for it provides us with dynamics in our life and delivers more valuable life-lessons, it is very difficult for me to experience and observe people when they think, believe and make choices from an emotional place that is opposite from love.
This is when I need to remind myself that variety is the spice of life. Peaks/valleys, ups/downs, hot/cold, highs/lows -- there is joy is the dynamics along the journey.
Ask yourself: Are you out there joy-spotting and living life driven by love or are you killing joy and mostly driven by fear?
Along your journey, savor the moments where you challenge your own beliefs. In the beginning, Eureka Springs was known for just one thing - healing water. Today, after years of evolution and the influence of human beings, Eureka provides a beautiful, diverse array of experiences for everyone.
Now, in 2022, no one travels to Eureka Springs to experience just one thing!
Eureka Springs offers much to see, do, and experience.
This is Eureka. You Found it!
(...definitely bring your inner-child with you!) ❤️