I attended a concert by the Brothers Cazimero, two talented and well-loved Hawaiian musicians. Early in the evening one of the brothers, Roland, fell ill and had to leave the stage. Suddenly his brother Robert found himself on stage in front of a thousand people without his partner, unable to perform the two-hour repertoire they had rehearsed. He had to wing it.
The audience was quite disappointed. Here we had paid for tickets and come out for this big event, and it wasn’t going to happen. We wanted Robert and Roland, not just Robert. Instead of complaining, however, the audience mounted massive support for both brothers. People called out, “We love you, Roland!” as he left the stage. We applauded wildly for Robert as he tried to patch together a concert. He made some chord errors, and one of the male hula dancers in his ensemble had his costume nearly fall off on stage while the troupe improvised a dance. None of that mattered. We all understood this was an emergency situation, and everyone pulled together to make the best of it. By the end of the evening the musical presentation was not at all what we had expected, but the concert hall was filled with celebration. After the finale, Robert received a standing ovation. Many in the audience inwardly held Roland in prayer. Higher Mind reframed an awkward situation as a call for love, and transformed the event. As a result, the evening was far more rewarding than if we had simply heard the concert as planned.
A Course in Miracles tells us that the world we see is inside out and upside down. We value the trivial and overlook the monumental. We are enamored with things and ignore people. We worship at the altar of limitation and forsake our potential. We live disconnected from the worthwhile and then wonder why we are in pain.
Dee and I recently had to reorder checks from our bank. We were amazed to find all the different motifs and mottos we could have imprinted on our checks. Finally we chose one that spoke to us: “Remember what’s important.” Now every time we sign a check we are reminded to value love more than money. And see money as an expression of love.
Jewish Theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel said, “When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old I admire kind people.” Contemporary education fills our minds with facts, but leaves our hearts empty. Children are taught how to follow, not how to lead. When kids have to walk through metal detectors to get into elementary school, one must question what kind of education goes on behind those walls. A college degree does not mean you know who you are or what you are here to do. A professor at one of the most prestigious universities in the world told me that faculty members are fighting with each other constantly. One has to wonder how intelligent these people really are. They have amassed extraordinary technical expertise, but they have not learned how to get along. Are they truly successful?
I saw a documentary about a man who was killed in a crazed gunman’s spree on the Long Island Railroad. His wife tearfully reported, “When I said goodbye to him that morning, I thought for sure I would see him that evening—but I didn’t.” We all expect that we will see our beloved family and friends again. Most of the time we will. Sometimes we won’t. How much more meaningful would our moments with loved ones be if we treated them as if this might be our last time together? We would not squabble over petty issues. We would remember what’s important.
Author Diane Cirincione tells that she used to get irritated when her husband Jerry Jampolsky would make toast in the kitchen each morning, and then leave crumbs on the counter. Diane asked him to please be more conscious about cleanup, but then the next morning she would walk into the kitchen and find crumbs again. “Then one morning I had a stunning thought,” Diane reported. “The only thing worse than finding crumbs would be to not find crumbs because Jerry was not there. From that time on the crumbs didn’t bother me. They were unimportant in the light of the love we share.”
The purpose of our journey through life, including all of our experiences and relationships, is to remember what’s important. As children we knew what is important. We had light hearts, laughed often, expressed ourselves honestly, and gravitated to people we loved. Then we were trained in what is important instead, and our lights began to dim. At some point we begin to recognize that what we were told is important, is not, and what we know is important, is.
You can tell what you believe is important by what you are doing and what you are getting. We are always choosing between one thing and another, and getting more of what we focus on. We can focus on the love or the crumbs. We can complain that our partner came home late, or celebrate that they came home at all. Every moment is precious.