It takes a lot to make me laugh. I mean a real laugh out loud, belly laugh. Well, it happened several weeks ago while I was watching a YouTube video. Then as soon as I started laughing I was overcome with guilt. Was it terrible that I found the video so funny?

This video was of a man dressed in a white robe going up to people and throwing a backpack near them, then running away. People freaked and took off in all directions leaving me in tears trying to catch my breath.  Afterwards, I analyzed my reaction.  I felt horrible. How could I be so judgemental? Then I asked myself the question. If it were me in the same situation would it matter what the person looked like who carried the backpack? I couldn’t answer honestly. I wanted to believe that it wouldn’t matter, but I wasn’t certain. I didn’t share or discuss the video with my family mostly because I was ashamed I found it so funny.

Life has a way of answering my questions when I least expect it. Eric and I went to see the new Star Trek movie. As we stood in line to get our tickets there was a sign telling of how the theatre had a right to search all bags. It reminded me of the last time I went to the movies when my purse was searched and I was told they were looking for guns. I walked away with a sense of fear. Really? Guns in a movie theatre? Sad.

We took our seats and watched all the previews which were mostly of explosion after explosion and fighting and guns and killing and I sat there hoping I was scoring many wife points for having to sit through such violent scenes. Husband prefers movies with explosions. I prefer good movies. Anyway, just when Star Trek began an older man entered the row in front of us, stopped directly in front of me, set down a backpack and left. It took me about two seconds before I leaned over and whispered to Eric, “Oh, hell no! I’m outta here!”  I was hightailing it out of the theatre just like all the people in the video I had watched. I didn’t care if it was my creative writer brain coming up with all kinds of scenarios. I didn’t care that I was the only one who reacted. My life was not going to end in a movie theatre watching Star Trek.

Later, I realized I had the answer to my question. For me, it was all about the backpack. I didn’t care who carried it. But it got me thinking about influences that surround me every day. Movies, videos, commercials, TV shows, books, people, and music are all sending messages whether I acknowledge it or not. Several years ago I made the decision to be more careful about what I allowed into my space. I became more aware of the impact  negativity could have on my thoughts and my health. I thought I was further along on my journey to living a wholehearted life. Then this whole backpack, what would I do if…happened and I realized that my reaction to the video and to the old man in the movie theatre was all based on messages I received from outside influences. At first, I felt guilty. A part of me wanted to be able to see the backpack, shrug and know it was nothing. I couldn’t.

Eventually, I came to the conclusion that awareness is the key. I can limit what I allow into my space, but  I can’t stop all the messages that seep through to my consciousness. Behaviors stem from thoughts. As long as I continue to look within and understand where my thoughts come from either a place of anxiety and fear or a place of love, acceptance and compassion then I can better understand myself, let go of the negativity and choose to act from a place of compassion.

So, the older gentleman returned with the backpack and sat in front of me. I laughed at myself. I was happy we all didn’t blow up and I had another funny story to tell about how my writer brain took me down a scary path. The next time I go to the movies I’ll be sure to see  a love story without explosions (editor’s note: But the new Bourne movie looks so good).

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