Transmuting the fires of negativity through Love.

Last month I shared a story about receiving an ancient artifact as a gift. It was a uniface lateral margin hand axe, many thousands of years old, from an archaeological dig in Africa. It was one of the very first tools early humans learned to create and played a significant role in the evolution of our species, as did the discovery of fire.

When I was a student at Cal Poly in Pomona, my chemistry professor showed my class an experiment that vividly demonstrated how something as destructive as fire could be easily thwarted with just a simple change. In the center of a large metal pan, he placed a flat stone that he surrounded with charcoals. On the stone, sat an ordinary paper cup with just one inch of water in it. He set the coals on fire and asked the class what we thought was going to happen. Naturally, all of us agreed that the paper cup was going to be quickly consumed by the fire. We waited and waited and waited for the cup to incinerate. Even as the fire raged around it, the cup remained completely intact. How could fire not burn up the paper and destroy the cup? It was as if we were watching the laws of physics defied right before our eyes.

The professor explained that as long as the cup contained water, the heat from the fire was transferred into the liquid and turned into harmless vapor. He proved his point by placing an empty cup on the stone that shrank to ashes in seconds. When he returned the cup with the water into the fire, it stood unharmed, like a superhero in the middle of a firestorm.

Firestorms of Our Lives

My undergraduate degree holds the equivalent of a master’s degree in chemistry. For a time, I taught organic and inorganic chemistry to pre-med students at UC Riverside. I used this same experiment not just for an academic lesson but a life lesson, as well. The rigors of medical school are legendary with stress levels well beyond what any human should have to tolerate. Due to that stress, statistics clearly show physicians have one of the highest suicide rates and shortest life spans of any social group. Not only did my own medical school experience confirm this, but it was made crystal clear to me when I read Dr. Joel Wallach’s excellent book, Dead Doctors Don’t Lie.

This simple, but powerful, lesson has much to teach us all about how to survive the firestorms of our lives. It doesn’t matter if it’s the unrelenting pressure of medical school or the anxiety generated during an illness. If we aren’t filled with something to transmute the heat of the fire swirling around us, we will be consumed by it. Make no mistake. There may be lots of different dis-eases with big, fancy names, but when you follow any of them back to their roots, there’s only one cause: stress. It doesn’t matter if it’s generated by our job, marriage, children, parents, finances, childhood or anything else.

Without internal defenses, it’s these emotional fires of life that break us down over time, create dis-ease and eventually consume us.

The only thing that can transmute the fires of negativity raging around us is love. When we are filled with love, see only love in others and recognize the loving opportunities in negative situations, we cannot be burned by the fires of life. Pain, anger, resentment and fear are vaporized by love while we stand unharmed until the fire shrinks to embers around us.

I recently found an enormous glass bottle at a re-sale shop that was used in chemistry experiments. It must hold at least 20 gallons. I placed it in the corner of my waiting room and filled it with nearly 1,000 “LOVE” buttons that I offer to my patients. For me, it stands as a reminder that when we allow ourselves to be filled with love every day, then we too can defy the laws of science, especially when it comes to dis-ease.

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