Friday, May 20, 2011

Smiles are for Suckas?!

I heard two people say that an introduction to the Landmark Forum scared them because "everyone" was smiling. I thought, "Damn, you DON'T want to participate in something that appears to help people access their Happy?!" Then I remembered that people fear what they don't know or understand.

See, when an entire family is smiling while looking at a new baby in a nursery, or a huge audience is smiling while a "now, husband & wife" are sealing the deal with a kiss, or a group of folks are holding a huge check from the NY lotto, no one thinks, "I'm not trying to be in THAT environment - all those people smiling like that." We don't do that because we have some idea of what that must feel like, and can "get" why an entire group or community would all be smiling authentic smiles. If you've never experienced Landmark Education's programs and only see that it leaves a smile on entire groups of people's faces, folks (definitely New Yorkers) get scared.

And I got it. No, I really got IT - that thing about people fearing what they don't know or understand. I got, deep down, why people consistently react fearfully to opportunities to experience Love, Success, and even Peace. They've never really known it. They thought they did, or they may have experienced some aspect of it, some incomplete version, some Chinatown Love-Peace-Joy knock-off. But they can't possibly have neither known it nor understood it. Because if they did, and knew how easy it was to simply open themselves up to it - even at the risk of heartbreak, failure, and chaos - they'd remain an open vessel.

And ultimately, if we could train ourselves to stamp out that already, always, automatic fearful response to the things we don't know, the entire world may know and understand Love, Success, Peace, what it means to be whole... what it's like to complete Landmark Education's Curriculum for Living.

Werner Erhard, thank you for standing in a world of "no possibility," cynicism, resignation, pain, and hopelessness and being a true manifestation of Yes. I have said yes to love beyond romantic relationships - to myself and my community - because of Landmark Education. I have said yes to a life I have created that includes developing programming for youth and women because of Landmark Education. I have said yes to having my father in my life and yes to forgiveness because of Landmark Education. I have said yes to friendships with people from all ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds, and faiths because I said yes to my sister's invitation to do the Landmark Forum in 2004.

I pray that through my authentic love of life, visible indeed in my smile, resonates beyond people's fear, beyond their pain, beyond their cynicism and past experiences, right to their Ultimately Knowing Heart. And I pray that everyone I touch finds themselves completing the curriculum for living, because I envision a day when NOT seeing a smile amongst crowds of people will be cause for concern - not like "there's something wrong here" but like Another World is Indeed Possible.

(Photo: "Smiles for Kala" by Andrew Thomas Clifton)