Columnists write their articles a month in advance of publication. These days that has become a bit more challenging. What might happen between this moment and a month from now we wonder. Another disaster? A life changing event or illness? The world is changing from moment to moment and so are our lives. There was a time, not to long ago, when we all felt safer. Kids played under street lamps at night. We flew in to see our relatives more often. We didn’t feel nearly as much dread listening to the evening news. But that was then and now is very different. So where do we find safety? Some of us buy rations and gas masks. Some of us stay home. Some of us never take a chance. At my age I know differently. For me safety is an inside job.

Some people have what I call the bag lady/man syndrome. This is the syndrome where we start worrying about what might happen or what could happen or what has happened in the past. I often hear people say, “Well if I don’t work really hard now, I might be a homeless bag lady on the street.” “Would you really be a bag lady,” I ask. “Would you really walk around town pushing that little cart with your kids in it?” The response is usually, “Well no.” “What would you do,” I ask. “I would find some way to work and have the money for food,” they respond. “Of course you would, because that who you are, there’s no bag lady in your DNA so let’s let go of that fear. Being a bag lady is a choice.”

Now before I get a million letters about that statement, let me tell you that my son once did an experiment. He printed up 500 business cards and passed every one of them out to the homeless people on the streets of Los Angeles. He also gave each one the promise that if anyone wanted to work, he would give them a job and a clean set of clothes and he would put them to work, no questions asked. Not a single person called him. 500 people chose to be bag ladies and men. That’s ok – no judgment, but it was their choice. And this statement in no way is meant to trivialize those who choices have brought dire circumstances and challenges. Our hearts and hands should continue to reach out to them with compassion and grace. The point here is that we cannot control all the circumstances of our life, nether can we control the people in our lives – but we can each control our response to and choices about all of it.

Who are we and what are we here for? Are we here to amass great wealth? Are we here to covet space, territories, cities and countries? Are we even here to stamp out terror – which by the way is a normal human emotion that we all feel and will never be without under certain circumstances. Are we here to identify the evil in our world and become it in order to eradicate it? Or are we here to live life fully, to be the best of who we are, to step into the magnificence of our being? This is the school folks. This is the place where we can discover it is not a challenge to be peaceful in the midst of peace. The test of our soul is to be peaceful in the midst of fear and the stirrings of war. The biggest human temptation is to be caught up in the rhetoric and illusion of fear. Now is the time to move the center of control to our own heart where peace and love reside. This is the place where we learn that we truly own nothing except the quality of our own character, and cannot hold on to a single thing by grasping at it harder. This is where we learn that if we are to step into our power, being a bag lady or a bag guy is simply not an option for us. This is the place where we discover that fear is an illusion and if we listen to the voice of fear we will stand in chaos. But…if we listen to the whispers of our own soul, if we listen to the sound of spirit. – no matter what comes, the courage and compassion of our heart will see us through it. If you are dedicated to the growth of your own soul, you cannot help but meet with success even in the most trying and uncommon of circumstances. Take a breath. Trust yourself. We live in a world of great spirits. Relax. You are one of them.

© Dr. Dina Bachelor Evan 2013

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