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Hip Sobriety School, Day 19

"I am responsible for the world I see."

· Uncovery

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. Wayne Dyer

I'm all about this mantra and yet in the daily grind of life, the power of it slips my mind. I forget that scientists have been able to reduce matter to (as yet unproven but observable) subatomic particles they call quarks that carry a fractional electronic charge. When they tried to discover if the charge was positive or negative, they found the answer changed with the observer. The charge was negative if the person doing the test thought it would be, and positive if that outcome was expected.

The concept that we create our reality is no longer just a radical platitude from all the Wayne Dyers and Deepak Chopras and spiritual teachers and metaphysicians. Science is starting to shout out the same story. Not that I needed the collusion of science—I have all sorts of beliefs about the unseen, unknown world and the creative power of thought. But even so, reading about that discovery blew the lid off some rational part of my mind. We're talking about matter here, not intangibles like emotions or relationship dynamics. Changing water into wine, walking across the swimming pool, and multiplying bread and fish—or bagels and trail mix as we were wanting to do at our last meditation workshop.

And yet in the daily grind of life, as much as I believe in and truly know this, more often than not I still forget to take responsibility for the world I see. At least until the level of discomfort or suffering becomes intolerable. That's when the gravity of misery pulls me down and demands that I start reviewing the mess from a viewpoint above all the drama, chaos, and racket. What's really going on here? There's a reason why A Course in Miracles defines a miracle as a shift in perspective and not a supernatural occurrence in the physical world.

Anyone who has worked with this principle has a treasure trove of surprising or downright incredible stories about watching these shifts in perspective play out on the stage of life. Just last month I hit a point in my year's largest freelance writing project where I was walking around with three tons of weight on each shoulder. My thoughts and gut were knotted up feeling the pressure of a looming deadline but having zero cooperation from the woman in charge—of everything. She was my sole source.

Email after email went out asking for the information, clarification, and direction I needed before I could even begin to write. There I sat—losing day after day, wringing my hands, feeling increasingly pressured and helpless and a teensy bit resentful. The mantra running non-stop through my mind was, "I don't have what I need to do this."

And then one day thunder struck on my way to the grocery store, which is odd because usually my most brilliant insights occur in the shower or on the potty. Why in God's name are you sending that message out to the Universe? You know better than this.

I did and I do. So right then and there in between stoplights, I surrendered any pressure and worry and angst about deadlines to the ultimate truth that she is responsible for enabling my work. I can start doubling up on email frequency and add daily voice mails and take the risk of becoming obnoxious—but beyond that, she's the one who has to put the ball in play. But I did more than let go, I changed the mantra to Everything I need to do this project is at my fingertips. Each time I felt that sense of dread and burden and anxiety creeping up like a pair of bad underwear, I would say it and feel it and see it: Everything I need to do this project is at my fingertips.

Two mornings later several emails poured in with pertinent data attachments and a note that she had been in Washington, D.C. A half dozen critical questions remained unanswered and no clarifications were forthcoming, but I did have the bare bones to launch. And launch I did. If she wouldn't tell me what she wants and how she wants it, this lady is going to get what I think she needs.

Working from her stats, I pieced together narratives from a few White Papers she had furnished, combed the Internet for related information and hard-hitting factoids, and pulled heavily from eight years of experience doing similar annual reports for other Arizona Head Start agencies. If a judgment call was needed, I made it. Worked through an entire weekend and by Monday morning, she had a completed draft to review and edit to her heart's content.

Her response? This is great! I love it. Let's send this off for layout.

Why don't I live this way? My daughter Lizzy read a book years ago that suggested taking a little time each morning to create your day. Affirm and visualize how you want things to go, maybe toss in a dash of delight or surprise—see what the Universe might conjure up with an invitation like that. She said it worked like magic every single day that she took the time to do it. But then it fell away, maybe under some new pressure, who knows.

Even on a global level, we are responsible for what we see. A few years ago Penache Desai hosted a Come Together for World Peace event at a posh Scottsdale resort—not something I was about to miss. The ballroom was massive and packed with chairs but the crowd was so large that people were willing to stand along the sides and across the back of the room just to be a part of this happening. Sitting beside the 13 (count them) gongs on the stage was a large screen for a video presentation created solely for the evening's event: A split-screen running collage of images set to music. On the right were all the horrific, destructive behaviors and events that are happening in our world. On the left was nothing but love, beauty, kindness, sweetness and innocence: The very best that Life and Earth have to offer.

The essence of Penache's message was so simple: We all long for peace, for our human family and our planet to be at peace. And that reality seems unreachable—maybe even impossible. Another time, maybe, but not now. But the truth is that you can have it now. Right now, you can have peace on earth just by being at peace. Finding your peace, living your peace, and protecting your peace. As you watched the film where did your eyes go? Were you drawn into the pain and suffering and destruction or did everything bright and beautiful and loving hold your full attention? Most of us probably danced back and forth between the two extremes. A movie just like this passes in front of our eyes each and every day, and we are constantly choosing to give our attention and thought and energy to one side or the other.

Before we closed and went our separate ways, we took a three-minute gong bath together—all 13 of those enormous gold orbs vibrating at once. Beyond the deafening volume of the collective sound that could no doubt be heard in New Mexico, the swelling vibration seemed to be humming through and harmonizing all the bodies and chairs and floor and ceiling and walls of the entire room. And I couldn't help but wonder: What on earth are the people staying in this $800/night hotel thinking about now?