Quantum change is radical change. It is change that is drastic and instantaneously catapults a person or country into a totally different place. On a negative level, a quantum change is called a tragedy or catastrophe. On a positive note, it is called a miracle.
A week ago, Japan had to deal with a seismic quantum impact. Earth quakes, tsunamis, radioactivity and severe weather all converged to challenge the idea that life just continues in a harmonious, predictable way. While I was so saddened to see the devastation on such a large scale, I was in awe of the responses of the Japanese people as I watched some of the television coverage. I was struck by their humbleness and respectfulness in dealing with the chaotic tragedy – no looting, no excessive emotional outbursts, no hysteria; just an inherent acceptance of life’s power that goes beyond the illusion that we can control life’s forces.
The reports of how skilled workers are putting themselves at risk of severe radiation at Fukushima nuclear plant to help contain the nuclear threat highlights how ‘self’ can respond in a subservient and sacrificial way in times of crisis, to ensure the well being of the wider community. In his blog, Tom Atlee talks about the role of honor and heroism in nuclear catastrophes as a cultural story that the Japanese live by.
Last week, I had the pleasure to meet and work with Shireen Sapiro, a 20-year-old paralympic swimming gold medalist. When she was 13 she was involved in a horrific boating accident, resulting in her being hospitalised for 6 months. She had to undergo 18 operations and had to learn to walk again. Her story is one of heroism. First, she had to accept her fate. This is not easy since there is usually a part of oneself that resists a tragedy that turns one’s life upside down within a second. Consciously choosing to accept ‘what is’, is a precursor to the courage that is then needed to deal with the changes in one’s life circumstances and the realisation that ‘life will never be the same again’.
Resisting ‘what is’ and wishing for ‘what was’ is a normal reaction to severe trauma. But there is something miraculous about the human spirit in some people that gets activated and counters this reaction. In a previous article the first component of being ‘the best YOU you can be‘ has to do with conscious choice; where there are at least two possibilities in any situation we encounter. On a fundamental level, the options may be as simple as ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. The true miracle of the human spirit is wrapped up in the choices that people make when faced with quantum tragedy. Shireen Sapiro and many of the Japanese people are living examples of being optimistic and present in the struggle. Fully encountering ‘what is’, is the essence of being a hero.
My thanks to Shireen for allowing me to share her story.