Chapter 5: Work On Yourself First
An Excerpt from You Have Chosen to Remember: A Journey of Self-Awareness, Peace of Mind and Joy by James Blanchard Cisneros.
Some time ago, I boarded a plane headed back to Miami. I was on the right side of the plane, in a three-seat row, seated in the window seat. A woman I did not know was sitting in the aisle seat, and there was no one sitting in the middle seat. Being in tourist class, and being 6’4″ and 220 pounds, I was hoping that either a model would sit next to me or that no one would sit in the middle seat. As soon as I silently expressed my hopes to God, a woman and her eight-year-old child dashed them. The mother told the young boy to sit in the middle and that she would sit a few rows back. Normally, I would have offered my seat to the mother and let her sit with her child. But two things stopped me from doing this: one, the mother really seemed to be relieved that she would have some time to herself, and two, the kid seemed to be a little hyper and complained about sitting by himself. I figured I could give the mom some rest and, at the same time, teach this brat a little courage and independence. Because I was doing two good deeds with one action, I figured that if the plane went down, I would definitely have a better chance of surviving than those people who had not done their good deed for the day! Plus, I was now sitting next to a child, which in and of itself, spiritually speaking, has to offer more protection.
The boy sat next to me, and immediately started talking. Of course the first thing he mentioned was that he gets sick on planes. “Just wonderful,” I thought. So I psychologically started convincing him that the plane was safe by telling him that I fly this route all the time, that the ride was always smooth and that he would be perfectly fine on the flight. He seemed to be content with my past experiences and prediction so he then began to share his life story. Thank God he was only eight! In general, the kid seemed to be pretty cool. He would share some of his views about life with me, then would turn to the lady on the other side of him and share his views with her as well. He was a very considerate young man, I thought.
It must have been cold and flu season because there were many sneezes on the way to Miami. On average, I am not someone who notices or cares about people sneezing on the plane, but today I had the “God Bless You” missionary sitting next to me. Yes, every time someone sneezed, regardless of where in the plane he or she was sitting, the kid responded with the words “God Bless You.” Now I’m not sure if the Green Berets trained this kid, or if he simply had bionic ears, for regardless of where a person was on the plane, if they sneezed, this boy could hear it! Not only that, but the farther he perceived an individual to be, the louder he would bless them. After the first few “God Bless Yous” the people on the plane, regardless of their location, answered him with “thank you.” This created a comfortable and friendly feeling on the plane.
The experience made me think back to the days when I was a kid and young adult, and I would also answer a sneeze with “God Bless You.” Somewhere on my journey to adulthood, not only had I dropped the “God” from my response to someone sneezing, but many times after hearing a sneeze I wouldn’t even reply with “bless you.” This experience got me thinking about how beautiful that response was, and how great it would be for me to bring it back into my life, and the life of all sneezers. I silently promised myself that, regardless of whether or not I felt comfortable responding in such a manner, I would reintroduce it into my life. It was a beautiful response and I now knew that I wanted to use it in my life and share it with others.
The plane landed safely, and the kid who at first I perceived to be a brat, I now saw as a great being. I told him that I thought he was a great kid and that I really enjoyed my time with him. In the end, I was the one who learned a powerful lesson from him. I was richly blessed by his presence. I finally told him that I would miss him, but deep in my heart I knew that somewhere, sometime, on a future flight, I would again hear those precious words coming from a seat way in the back of the plane. The people on this future plane ride will smirk and some will laugh at this response to someone’s sneeze. As for me, I gladly look forward to a re-encounter with this great teacher.
These three small examples – stubbing my toe, forgiveness and the “God Bless You” kid – are provided to show you how I chose to put aside what the world taught me to be normal, and remembered what my heart said was true. In aligning myself with God, I made peace the basis of all my thoughts, actions and reactions.
Do you want peace? This is simply what you must ask yourself in every situation. The clarification of the goal comes at the beginning of every situation. If your goal is peace, you will experience peace.
Please remember that I’m not saying, in this or any part of this book, that my way is the way. I am simply providing you with a few examples of how I have found peace of mind and joy. You might need to experience something totally different and that is fine. Do whatever brings you peace and you will find peace. There is nothing else that needs to be said. If you do not know what brings you peace, then experiment and understand how what you think and say affects your emotional state.
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