Truly Powerful People (109)

Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

It is Sunday morning, a hot day in the early 1990’s in Los Angeles. I walk to a corner gas station convenience store to buy a newspaper and milk. When I enter the store a customer is at the counter. He is angry and having a heated conversation with the owner. There are five other people in the store and I notice many have their items but are pretending to look for other things to buy. They are staying away from the counter until the angry man leaves.

I grab my paper and am opening the refrigerator door when the angry man escalates his violent diatribe. I get my milk and am closing the door when the sound, the BANG, drops me to the floor. It was an automatic response; I hit the deck and look around me; the other patrons have done the same thing. We are on the ground, arms over our heads. Eggs are broken. There is a puddle of juice and broken glass.

No shots were fired. The angry man slapped the counter with his hand before storming out of the store.

I hear it on the news every night: people killing other people for their shoes or because they are angry at the price of gas. What I didn’t realize is how deeply we carry that news in our bodies. It is always there. All of us hit the floor. We expect the violence. We are on guard all of the time. There is nothing on the spectrum between angry and murder on this day in Los Angeles – or on any other day, apparently.

I hear that it is human nature but I don’t buy it. That is a story. It is human nature to tell stories not kill for shoes. We have an infinite capacity to tell the story that we want to tell. But, we must first want to tell a different story. We have to believe that a different story is possible; we have to notice that the story does not happen to us. We author it and we enact it. Together we choose it.

When I left the store that morning I left Los Angeles (literally and metaphorically). I decided to carry a different story in my body. This other story I see daily (yet rarely on the news): it is the story of empowered people empowering others.

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