I was recently invited to attend a wedding in Minnesota. The invitation hit me like a Mohammed Ali one-two combination to my gut.
My first reaction was, “No way am I going. I can’t do this.”
But then my head asked my stomach why it didn’t want to go, and the answer was because it was afraid. It was fear and fear alone, and that is NOT a good enough reason. As I have quoted before, “We must travel in the direction of our fear.”
I knew this trip was going to be difficult for me because it combined many of my smaller fears into one heaping mound of anxiety, compressing each one together until an explosive powder keg was created. It had combined a fear of travel (motion sickness) with a fear of crowds and strangers (social anxiety disorder) and a fear of eating and staying in different places (agoraphobia) and several others, all into a short time frame. The potential for disaster was high.
Still, I knew I had to go. There were people I wanted to see. It was important to my family. There was no way I was going to back down. I had to try, even if it meant failure, because not trying IS failure. I assembled all my tools on how to block negative input and dwell on the positive and how to relax and stay calm (meditation techniques), and I packed them in the carry-on luggage that was now my overstuffed brain.
The first day was the hardest, as is almost always the case. I had to fly and make connecting flights, then travel by rental care to a strange home where I would get ready for the rehearsal dinner soon after that. The dinner was packed with people I did not know. I was introduced around and I probably said a few words to everyone, though I cannot remember most of them. I just hope and pray I did not seem like a complete idiot to anyone.
I felt like a sweaty zombie with a palpitating heart for quite a while. A light dinner settled me down a bit, and I was able to collect myself as people went to the microphone to make toasts. About halfway through the toasts (which thankfully I did not have to do) I noticed that the room was filling with positive energy. Words were uplifting, affirmative and affectionate. Those words filtered into me and boosted my ability to cope. I was able to relax more.
The same thing happened the next day. I was surrounded by positivity. The wedding was one of the most loving experiences I have ever seen. The love lingered in the air and was palpable. It swallowed me and strengthened me, and I was glad that it did.
I spent a final day with the bride and groom on Sunday, and the love was still abundant in the air. I found my words flowing easily now, and my ability to chat with people grew, as did my relaxation, my energy and my strength. My last day there was a brief family day of story-telling, reminiscing, and old photographs which ended much too soon. Hugs and kisses were mixed with tears, as we all flew off to our corners of the world.
Still, I look back to that positivity and realize how strong it made me. I will no doubt look back to this weekend as one of the best of my entire life, for not only did I see how much I have grown and can grow, I see how much positive energy can do to strengthen that process.
And that made me wonder…
What if everyone behaved this way all the time?
What if the world got rid of its negativity and started uplifting everyone we met? What if we didn’t strive to defeat, but to help? What if we didn’t think of policy and politics, race or color, geographic location or even looks and appearance? How much trouble could we avoid if we did that? How much pain could we cure? What if? That’s what I ask: what if?
Instead of a weekend in positivity, what if we in this world always did it? It’s time to dream once again – and then take steps to make that dream come true.