This is the question I have gotten more than any other in the aftermath of Las Vegas. From Sunday night to Thursday morning, I honestly could not answer that question. What exactly do those words mean?
Well, I want a cabin in Ouray, a massage in a remote and primitive hot springs, a plane ticket to Auckland, a horsetrailer, an amazing guy who wants to chase down epic shit, and maybe a stiff drink on Friday night.....Ok, ok, so I digress....
Oh, what do I NEED after being shot at a couple hundred times by a crazy guy who somehow got his arsenal of guns up to the 32nd floor of his hotel? Hmmmm, well, all my friends keep sending me all this PTSD stuff. What is that? What does that mean? Crisis debriefing? Take care of yourself? Go talk to someone? Why? I don't need anything. The replays of bullets in my ears and the pictures of the mass panic have stopped repeating in my head every 10 minutes. I am brimming with gratitude for the very fact that I have my precious life to keep living and as motivated as ever to help in any way I can to stop this from happening again. I'm good. What are you talking about? I got on my bike and rode it all out on Wednesday.....
So I thought. Enter yesterday morning when everything I did not feel immediately totally blindsided me. WTF is happening? Why am I unable to get out of bed after ten hours of sleep? Why does my brain feel like I am on a carnival ride? Why am I in my house but think I am in a hotel bed? Ummm, what day is it? I think I have a meeting or two at work today, but I am not sure what day it really is. Shit, what time is it? Hmmmm, I don't really care. I'll work from home today. What does this email say? Crap, I was supposed to get that done yesterday. Which client needs staff? Who is their case manager? I have no idea what I just read. Why do I want to cry?
Yeah, so maybe I do need some time off to heal mind and soul.
I cleared my calendar and took Thursday to go breathe some high mountain air and soak up the fall sunshine. I thought a lot about what I need. I found it extremely difficult to ask myself this question. The difficulty came due to the fact this is a question I only ask others, and never answer.
After returning home this evening, here are the words that so pitifully describe what is stirring inside my heart:
First and foremost, I need you to watch from about 1:07 to the end of this and listen to my voice as the clip closes. This was the first news I watched after leaving Vegas and I was stunned to see someone near me had submitted their footage.
Now.......I need you to look up from your screen and into the part of your soul that still harbors optimism and genuinely believes those words. And I need you to begin to nurture that belief again. I need you to water and feed it and let the light shine on it again.
"It's gonna be ok guys, it's gonna be ok..."
Roger that? Maybe your belief is alive and well and bearing fruit, maybe it looks like the wilted tomato plant growing in my office that did not get watered while I was on vacation or maybe it is a half-dead seed that has not sprouted? Whatever it looks like, I need you to get your gloves out and tend to it. Then I need you to start giving seeds and starts of that belief to others around you and others far from you.
That's the tough part.
You are likely shaking your head and half-smirking at your screen right now at the absurdity of the notion that you are going to make anyone believe that. And how weird of a conversation would that be anyway?
"So, hey, um, Mr. Pissedoffattheworldangrypassiveaggressiveaccountant, I just want you to start believing it will be ok"
"And, hey there, Ms. Mybackhurtsihavethreekidsandicantpaymybillsworkingattacobell, yeah, so, its gonna be ok"
"Whooooa there, Miss Iwillpostabsolutleyanythingonfacebooktentimesadayforattentionandvalidation,
remember its gonna be ok"
Yeah, pretty weird dialogue. So try this instead.
Learn how to feel empathy for others' pain or circumstances you do not personally experience
And now you are asking your screen how the hell that is even possible anymore? I have an amazingly succinct and ridiculously simple answer. Turn your eyes outward and begin to SEE and LISTEN to others. I mean authentically, not out of insinuated obligation. Pay attention. Get your eyes off of yourself and your "problems." Tap into the humanity you share with those very like you and those very unlike you. The blood you bleed? The pants you put on one leg at a time? The loneliness you feel tapping a screen? The fear of failure/rejection you feel? The "something more" you can't put words to, but you are searching for? The confusion? The elation? We ALL feel it. We all go through it.
Reach into that scary place your feelings reside. Come on. Do it.
What do you feel and what do you need? A smile? A genuine connection? Some authentic interactions? An ear? 5 bucks for gas? A shift covered? A homemade dinner? A huge hug? A friend to make you laugh? A friend to hold a punching bag? Some encouragement? A kind compliment? Someone who can fix your car? Have a beer and a laugh with you? A babysitter? You get it.
Stand in their shoes. Empathize. Be kind. No matter how small it is or how long it takes. This is where it starts. Then watch people soften and watch the stress melt away. Some will react in the tiniest ways and some will begin moving mountains. Try it.
And, lastly, I need you to watch this. I need you to set all your devices and crap down and soak in every word she has to say. One of the best TED talks ever. And so pertinent to this moment. Raw, honest and unafraid. Begin here. Take my words and her words and put your beautiful and amazing self to work. You already know what needs to change and how to do it. Show the world in your own way.