Today we walked for breast cancer. Well, not exactly for breast cancer, more like, against breast cancer. At 6:30am we got on a school bus with my son’s bar mitzvah buddies and our temple friends and headed downtown to march for a cure. Free gifts and food aside, what we saw was amazing. Thirty-one-thousand people gathered together for a single cause. Everyone there touched in one way or another by this terrible, but overly popular disease that does not discriminate. Everyone had a story to share. A family member, a friend, a colleague, or even themselves…some were lost, some were triumphant, but all in some way had faced this terrible disease that affects far too many of us. I must confess, initially when we were smooshed together at 7:30am all in a crowd to get our “free stuff”, it was a little stressful and overwhelming. It was literally every person for themselves. But then at 8:30am it all changed. We all came together on the street, lined up behind the big pink balloon arch and we walked. This was not at all stressful, in fact, it was really great. Strangers sharing a purpose, which in essence joined us all. We connected with friends, we made new friends, we spoke with strangers. We smiled and laughed and when we saw a pink shirt or a pink sign with the name of someone with breast cancer, we thought of why we were walking and who we were walking for. Good energy spread among the thousands.

So I wondered. What made the difference? Why at 7:30am did I feel like hyperventilating, while at 8:30am, in the midst of the exact same crowd of people, I was happy and content? It dawned on me that at 7:30am the goal was egocentric, to see what goodies we could get for ourselves. We walked in front of others, we walked against the flow at times, we focused on the booth up ahead and what fun toy or snack it might bring us. I’m really not judging getting free gifts as bad, there’s nothing wrong with a little consumerism and reward, but the emotional charge was definitely different. While at 8:30am when we were all gathered behind the starting line, we extended beyond ourselves and focused on a shared goal. When we were no longer caught in our personal desires, the feelings of happiness and good will seemed to grow exponentially. We walked with each other in the same direction, with one goal in mind, to let it be known that we wanted to eradicate breast cancer and it’s suffering.

I think we forget this sometimes in the drive to fulfill our personal desires. When we focus on something greater than ourselves and join with others in doing so, we are ultimately much happier and likely much more successful in our endeavors. Our energy expands beyond ourselves and we connect with the energy of others. No wonder we feel happy and invigorated. In the process of letting go of our personal desires and joining with others we’ve gained so much more! I always tell my patients that we are by nature social creatures. So when we are feeling down, or low or in a funk of some sort, if we can just remind ourselves to get out of our own way. To let go of clinging to our personal desires and instead to connect with another or many others in a meaningful way to find your path out of the energetic void into a happier place. Go to a place of worship, invite people you love over to dinner, take a walk with a friend, or take a walk with thousands of friends, and it might just put a smile on your face, their faces, and who knows what else might be accomplished? (We might even find a cure for cancer!)

What do you think? ☺☺

Be happy and well,
Sari Roth-Roemer

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