Updated: Mar 20, 2022
“Energy cannot be created or destroyed it can only be changed from one form to another.” Albert Einstein
“I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…” Those words kept running through my mind as the terror gripped me as tightly as I gripped the handlebars of my sky blue bicycle.
My dad was teaching me to ride and I was failing miserably. He ran alongside me and held the back of my cloud-covered banana seat. I tried and fell several times, even falling into the door of a parked car that was covered in rust, and he may have been laughing at my irrational response. I was an overly excitable child. Good thing I outgrew that … (wink wink).
My father was a huge believer in the power of positive thinking and his plan was to have me say “I think I can, I think I can” over and over until I was actually riding my bike. I’m certain I rolled my eyes at that idea and judged both the ineffective nature of his suggestion and the simplicity of the concept itself. But, at his insistence, I did as he asked. “I think I can, I think I can…” And as I said those words it started happening. I was riding my bike! I didn’t even realize when he let go of the seat, but at that point it didn’t matter — I was riding like the wind.
I can still hear his laugh and picture his big smile. He loved to see us succeed, but he also loved positive thinking and the scene provided him joy on both levels.
Positive thinking — it’s really just code for good vibes, intention and positive energy. Even though I was a naysayer, I was saying and thinking those words: “I think I can, I think I can.” My energy started to move away from fear and toward self-efficacy and even if my brain hadn’t caught up, my body was on board. And before I knew it, I was riding my Sky Princess bike — (that was the name on the seat, I did not make it up) — all by myself.
Was my success that day due to the fact that I already fell five times and, so, after such trial and error, I suddenly turned pro? Maybe, but I don’t think so. I was stuck in a pattern of terror and fear at that point, so if it hadn’t been for my dad’s mantra, I probably never would have turned it around that day.
The magic of positive thinking — of energy: It is nothing short of transformative.
Consider, the Buffalo Bills. Once the posterchild of incompetence and futility, the franchise — which once went a record-setting 17 years without a playoff appearance — is now a perennial Super Bowl contender.
When General Manager Brandon Beane and Coach Sean McDermott took over in 2017, they cleaned house. They got rid of guys with crap attitudes, and replaced them with hard-working, coachable players who were team oriented, trusted one another and wanted to be in Buffalo. They changed the dynamic in the locker room. They changed the energy. You could actually see and feel it. There seems to be a true family mentality now. It is wonderful thing in which to bear witness. And that energy transcends the field into the community.
When the Bills are winning, the energy throughout the Buffalo area is different. To say the community vibes is an understatement. People are nicer to one another and it really doesn’t matter who you are, where you live, what color your skin is or what you do for a living — if you see someone in Bills gear, you nod, connect and feel the love. There is hope here. Optimism. And, the most magical part is that while this is in part due to top-notch talent, creativity and coaching, it is also a result of positive thinking and energy.
Energy always matters.
A few short years ago, my mother suddenly became terribly sick and disabled overnight and we needed to get her home to Buffalo from Florida in spite of her debilitated state. Mom was unable to walk or balance or move really without extreme nausea. We needed a plane that could hold a stretcher, which was both expensive and hard to find. Through the generosity of family, friends and even strangers, we raised more than $30,000 in just a couple of days to pay for her plane. What seemed an insurmountable mountain to climb just days before, changed overnight by the kindness of people and the power of love. It was moving — a miracle really — and the sort of thing that would give even the Grinch himself the chills. It was a beautiful thing.
Is the energy that transforms an awful professional sports franchise into a winning team and the pride of the community the same energy that helps a scared little girl ride her bike solo for the first time? No. And it is definitely not the same energy that brings a beloved mother and grandmother home to die surrounded by her loved ones.
But while energy is not always the same, everything is energy and energy is everything.
It is nothing you can see, but it is everything you can feel. Energy is magnetic: it draws you to or away from people, places and things. Energy is emotion: it gives you the chills, the tingles or makes you wiggle when things are good. Energy is palpable: it can be the heaviness you feel when things are wrong, when we suffer a loss or witness acts of hate or terror. Energy helps you know whether you are on the right or wrong path. And energy continues after we die.
As we continue to navigate our way through this pandemic, political division and war in the Ukraine, consider your intention and your energy as you move through your days. Yes, it gets heavy at times. It can be disturbing and scary. But there is so much magic to be found if you choose to look for it. Never underestimate what can happen when a whole lot of people send even the slightest bit of love out into the universe.
So be kind. Always.
Love never dies and life is continual. It just changes forms.