When people give and welcome me into their homes with love, I am filled up with love in return and a burning desire to pay it forward and to give more myself.
Last weekend I went to a gun show in Houston, Texas.
I had never held a handgun before and I’ll never forget the feeling of picking one up for the first time there at the show. Heavier than I expected, yet not nearly heavy enough as its weight did not come nearly close enough to the incredible weight of responsibility held by the gun.
Something inside my gut felt twisted and sick as I stared down at the handgun. I’d held shotguns before but this one felt different. This gun was designed to kill people.
I placed the handgun back down and vowed to never touch one again. I carried on, wandering through the tables covered in guns galore and the proud men standing behind the booths, ready and eager to help the “good” guys protect themselves against “them”.
It turns out in this particular case, that it is about 80% home invaders, 18% apocalypse (in which case we will all go crazy and naturally raid each other’s homes) and about 2% zombies (no joke).
Carrying on, I began talking to a guy selling shotguns at a booth. I’d heard the term “home defense” thrown around quite a bit at the show and mentioned to him that I’d never heard the phrase prior to that day. He looked at me, surprised and asked, “Where are you from?” I told him I was from Vancouver, Canada and that hardly any of us own guns there. His jaw dropped and he stared at me in disbelief and confusion. “So, how do you defend yourself from home invaders then?”, he asked.
I wanted to tell him “hugs” but got the sense that answer wouldn’t quite fly, so I hesitated before saying, “Nothing? Baseball bats? Hockey sticks? I don’t know, it’s not something I’ve really thought about before. I’d probably just call the cops.”
In all my travels and in all my life, I have never come across such extremes as I have on my U.S. road trip from Vancouver to Miami, when it comes to the dichotomy of love and fear. That gun show, to me, represented the embodiment of fear.
Perhaps that gun show was representative of the state of the country itself and that the country is not at war with anyone or anything other than its own fear. In the absence of fear, there is only love and while I have met many people who live in the pits of fear on my US travels, I have also met people who openly talk about their desire to eliminate fear from their life; to step out of the pool of fear and into the fuzzy bathrobe of love.
Many of the people I have encountered on my trip that openly embody love, I have met couch-surfing.
The first few times I walked up to my host’s houses, having never met them, I would note the nerves in my stomach and wonder if this was my intuition telling me that the resident of the house I was about to enter was a psycho-killer. Fortunately, that was just the seeds of fear planted in my own head and I haven’t had anyone try to murder me in the middle of the night!
I have had quite the opposite experience, in fact. I have had people I did not know mere minutes before let me stay in their homes, graciously give me my own key to their place, give me fresh linens and towels and cook me meals. I have been taken on tours in my host’s cars throughout their city, I have been loaned bikes on which to ride around and explore and I even had one host let me stay in their place for nearly two weeks!
When people give and welcome me into their homes with love, I am filled up with love in return and a burning desire to pay it forward and to give more myself. I wonder how the world would change if all those living in the confines of fear were to open up their hearts and minds for even one day to stay in the home of a stranger that cooks them dinner and welcomes them with no expectation of anything in return.
Fear breeds fear and love breeds love. Often, all it takes is one person to break the cycle of fear, by choosing the path of love and sharing that with those around them.
We all have the choice, every day and in every decision.
So what will you choose—love or fear?
Let’s hear it in the comments! One word, your choice, do it now.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Assistant Editor: Richard May/Editor: Rachel Nusbaum
Photos: courtesy of the author