The idea of a “United” States of America seems to become less and less likely everyday. Of course with recent events unfolding as they have, the urgency with which we slow down the division and turn it around is of even greater import. Some may call me naive to think we as American citizens have even the slightest chance to create a better USA but I am hopeful.
We have one of the most diverse populations of any country on the planet with rights and freedoms coveted by many around the world and with that comes so many opportunities to learn to love in so many different ways. It is commonly understood that love is universal which suggests that love is easy to do. It is not. We humans are messy and not everyone is looking out for you and you are not looking out for everyone. I do think that a more beneficial outlook is that love is local, so local that it starts with loving ourselves. Some of us find loving ourselves challenging because we know about all of the aspects of ourselves that are “unlovable”. Yet, we also have those moments where we just can’t get enough of ourselves. So within our own skin, we wrestle with the conditions we place on ourselves to deserve our own love.
Practicing loving ourselves with all of our issues is a good way to learn how to actually love others in spite of all of their issues. I know I risk coming off as too simplistic about this and I am in no way suggesting that the problems that lie ahead of us as a country have simple solutions, they do not. What I am suggesting is we have to start somewhere and for me that somewhere is my own heart. If I can love myself better, knowing all that I know about me, then maybe I can love you better too. I am not talking about love as a project where we devote time and energy into helping someone live in a way that allows you to love them more. I am talking about wanting good for someone even when you think they deserve the worst. Wanting good for them is enough. You don’t have to be the one to provide the good they require. Sometimes just knowing deep down that someone wants good for you elevates a person.
My job and your job is not to persuade others to approach life the way that we ourselves approach it or even the way we think they should approach it. We all have our own unique journey and what is good for me may not be good for you. What if our job was to simply want good for ourselves and for others, period. Desire is a prayer we whisper to ourselves and I believe that the deep desire I have of good for you translates into a transfer of energy not unlike that which comes when a person smiles at you. If you have ever been on the receiving end of a heartfelt smile, you know what I mean. When someone smiles at me, I feel good - Is it possible that their desire of good for me is in fact what I am perceiving. I feel good only when the smile is authentic and I sense discomfort when a smile sent my way is forced and not fueled by a desire of good for me.
We know from personal experience and the research backs it up that when we see a smile, an automatic response is triggered and we smile back, receiving all kinds of dopamine and other feel-good neurotransmitters that reward us with pleasure. Before you start thinking that this is a corny 'all we have to do is smile and the worlds a better place’ message, think again. This is an 'all we have to do is want good for our selves and others and the worlds a better place' message. For all I know though, they could be the same thing.
Anyway, I want to invite you on a journey with me as I challenge myself to create a better me and maybe it will inspire you to create a better you. That really is all that I can do in this effort to unify. If I create a better me and you create a better you, we create a better YOUSA. We are America and the only way America gets and does better is if we individually get and do better.
For almost 30 years, I have been jumping off of trampolines and dunking basketballs and interacting with all kinds of people from all walks of life. As an athlete and entertainer, my teammates and I create amazing experiences for our audiences and ourselves. We desire good for those who witness what we have to offer and when we execute in a way that results in the audience expressing their appreciation, say, with a standing ovation for example, it is because as teammates, we all agree to be present and focused and we keep our commitment from the start of the show till the bow at the end. (We train that way also)
Our intent is to present an experience so amazing that it inspires members of our audience to seek to deliver an elevated level of excellence as they carry out their purpose on the planet. We know firsthand there is an exchange of energy between us and the audience and I offer to you that energy comes from us desiring good for them and us being present and focused and connected as a team. Some of my most treasured experiences in life have occurred on stages, basketball courts, concrete slabs and elementary school cafetoriums with teammates who’s upbringing was nothing like mine but who were willing to invest their contribution into our experiment to become better at what we were doing individually and as a team and I grew to love and want good for them even when we did not see eye to eye.
My hope is that each American comes to a place where we live our daily lives with that kind of intention and presence and focus but not as a performance, simply as an extension of desiring good for ourselves and others.
I will be the first to admit that I’m a bit corny and what I create on this journey will be a bit corny but my intention is to remind you that we are amazing even when we aren’t. My intention is to remind you that we are perfect even when we aren’t. My intention is to remind you that we are united even when we aren’t. My intention is to remind myself and you that I and you create the U in USA and we are all part of the same team even at those times when you and I wish we weren’t.
If any of this makes any sense to you, you will enjoy the ride - if it doesn’t make sense right now, ride with us anyway and just maybe our wanting good for you will be enough.
This journey takes place on Instagram: @abetteryousa