Monday, October 15, 2012

What we do when we don't know what to do

This week a close friend and neighbor, someone who many adore, got hurt, badly.  While on a cross country bike trip, he fell (while wearing his helmet) and sustained a traumatic brain injury, leaving him unconscious.   We don’t know what this means for him.  His network of friends and family is suspended in time, waiting for the signs to tell us that we will get more time with our dear, funny, animated friend.

I think it is fair to say that our network is primarily secular, that is, we are part of the fastest growing religious affiliation in the US, which ironically, is not having a religious affiliation.   I would also say, since our friend is a long-time Silicon Valley advisor and angel investor, he is connected with some of the most intelligent, creative, innovative people I know.  

What does a group of highly intelligent, creative, innovative, non-religious people do when we don’t know what to do?  When we are broken hearted, afraid, and seemingly impotent in the face of what life just delivered on our doorstep?  

Well, I studied the status updates on our friend’s Facebook wall.  And of the 114 messages I saw, 88 of them were direct messages to Brett (written knowing that he is unconscious).  53 messages indicated that people were taking time to think about Brett.  39 messages indicated people were turning to prayer.  35 messages indicated that in some way, people were “keeping” themselves, their thoughts, or their prayers “with” Brett, and 28 messages indicated people were “sending” energy, thoughts, prayers, karma or love to Brett.

I think there is basic wisdom here.  

We may not know why or how, but most of us turn toward this kind of behavior when we don’t know what to do.  For me, the most powerful instinct was that I had to talk to Brett, I had to tell him that I loved him and I needed him to come home.  And I wasn’t alone, this was the most common practice in our group--most people wrote messages directly to Brett as if in conversation.  We talk to, we send out, we connect with, by our language and imagination we do something that seems irrational, but seems to be a feature of of who we are as human beings.

The reason I am posting today is to encourage us all to keep at it, and to dare us to lean ever deeper into our natural instinct.  To let our hearts and imaginations “go there”, knowing that we are enacting basic wisdom which understands deeply that indeed “our hearts go out” and that “love is the best medicine,” to quote two of Brett’s friends.


  1. I think you should add "wonderful friend" to your "about me" description.

  2. So true, I often say I am "sending good vibes" for lack of a better way to understand or articulate what I feel. Good to see that I'm not alone and while my words might not be quite right, the sentiment underneath is true and universal.

  3. Well said, Cristina. Whether we say "Good vibes...," or "Our prayers are with you...," or "We're thinking of you...," we're all headed in the same direction - toward love.