I often refer to the movie Apollo 13 as a backdrop to life, and how it especially fits right now. It’s a true story about extraordinary people coming together to solve a seemingly impossible situation. The Apollo 13 mission was a historical moment when humanity came together with one intention; to get the crew safely back to Earth. The crew and its capsule safely splashed down on April 17, 1970, defying insurmountable odds!
The power of intention is a topic I want to elaborate upon later in this post, but first, I want to point out some metaphors. The most prominent theme that maps directly over current events is the massive interruption of everyone’s lives. Before the Coronavirus, we all had planned trajectories. Our personal “mission control” had clear agendas. We each launched into our daily lives with certainty and direction. Before this global pandemic, we knew where we were going. We may have deviated from our individual “flight plans” or experienced obstacles along the way, but most of us stuck to the “mission.” Then, just as the crew of the space capsule experienced, a major malfunction throws the entire mission into chaos! “Huston we have a problem!” (The words actually spoken, initially by Jack Swigert, were “Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here“)
What about the mission?
One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when Fred Haise, played by Bill Paxton and Jack Swigert, acted by Kevin Bacon, are arguing over who caused the tank explosion. The two astronauts are blaming one another for what had transpired. The mission commander, Jim Lovell, played by Tom Hanks, abruptly interrupts the argument and sternly asks, “Gentlemen, what are your intentions?” Haise and Swigert stop and stare at Lovell. Lovell powerfully states his intention, “I’d like to go home, ” says Lovell. This moment is an enormously pivotal point. It became an energetic shift that changed the entire reason why they were there.
Commander Lovell accepts the fact that the moon mission is lost. In the face of disaster, he courageously shifts his focus from his life-long dream of walking on the moon to getting home. The commander urges the crew to begin the process of making his intention a reality. From the precise point of Lovell’s stated intention, in the face of massive uncertainty, these brave men along with thousands of key people, and the attention of the world, land the astronauts safely back on Earth.
There are many takeaways from the actual Apollo 13 mission and the movie that followed years later. Right now, the most valuable one is the power of intention! Since last March, my life is hurling through space and I have lost gimble lock and I’m flying by the seat of my pants. As I’m spinning, I’m beginning to find the strength to ask, “What is my intention?” I expand that question to all of humanity. “What are your intentions?” What answers come to mind?
Setting and Holding Intention
Setting and holding an intention might be a strange idea for some people. It might conjure up suspicions of witchcraft or some weird VooDoo ritual. The truth is, most “magic” begins with intention, and that’s why there’s much controversy surrounding the idea. Once considered impossible to achieve, some human endeavors have become a reality—most, if not all unimaginable feats begin with a clear intention. It’s not VooDoo, it’s how humanity has created and will create incredible outcomes!
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!”
― William Hutchison Murray
Intention in a New Era
Like the crew of the Apollo 13, spaceship Earth and all her inhabitants have suddenly been thrust into a new reality. The only difference is the astronauts had to act quickly whereas most of us are isolated in our homes with enough time to contemplate our situation. Many of us have not had an opportunity to sit quietly in deep contemplation. Or, we avoid contemplation all together. I for one, invite this rare moment of inquiry. I believe the times we are experiencing are enormously powerful. Perhaps for the first time in human history, masses of people are questioning the way they live. In isolation, many are in a state of evaluation. In what I call, “The Great Pause” there’s a palpable gestation occurring. From a place of sitting still and going within, new visions are coming into clear view.
What is Your Intention?
When I began this blog site, my initial vision was to write about road trips throughout the western United States. Obviously this vision has shifted out of a desire to offer something unique. The core idea has changed even more radically due to the fact that I cannot take long road trips until further notice. I apologize to my readers who expected to learn and read about “the best road trips of the American West”. I assure you, I want to resume this original idea and I will. For now, the theme of using the road trip as a way to view our lives is what I offer. We are on the journey of life and up until recently, for most of us, it has been fairly smooth. At least I can speak for myself.
The Power That’s Here, Now!
Aside from the fact that this personal blog has morphed, I want to add that my life is changing too. I find myself yearning for an end of suffering in the world. Impossible? Back to the power of intention based upon a new vision. It has become abundantly clear to me that if I’m to end suffering in the world, I must address the suffering that resides within me. How am I to do this? Well, set intentions, of course! For example, “during this sacred time that has been given to me, I intend to take good care of myself.” I resolve to to be kind to myself and to listen deeply to what I need. I hereby state that I will pay close attention to the dusty, dark corners of my inner world and acknowledge my fears, pain, sadness, and disappointments.
I will take stock of how vulnerable I really am and have compassion for the inner kid that resides within. When I’m tired, I will rest. When I’m hungry, I will eat. I will pay laser-close attention to all that I need, right now. In doing so, I can then begin to offer the same kindness, love, and compassion to others around me.
Stating radical self-care is a simple intention, really, but it’s the simple ones that can move mountains. So, like James Lovell, ask yourself, ‘What is your intention?” Meditate and contemplate the kind of world you need for yourself outside of pandemic and constant suffering. Begin the impossible journey to a world free of chaos, disease, and violence. Start from within and live your vision every moment! We will splash down to a new Earth, for sure!