Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A human thing

While reading an AP story about the pope this morning, I couldn't help but smile as I read the segment quoted below.
Such decisiveness comes despite having been "invaded by anxiety" in the moments after he was elected. In the interview with Repubblica, Francis said after the shock of the election, he immediately excused himself from the Sistine Chapel, closed his eyes in a small room off to the side and tried to relax. 

"At a certain point, a great light invaded me, it lasted a moment but it seemed very long to me," he told Repubblica's editor. "Then it disappeared and I got up." 

He went back into the room where he signed the document accepting the job and headed out onto the loggia of St. Peter's Square to be introduced to the world. 
This is an example of a normal human capability. Here's how it works: If you believe you're being helped, you receive help. I once wrote about this on the blog (but can't find the post today). 

It's not a message from god but it feels like one. And if you believe you're getting help, you become stronger, more confident, etc. In the missing post, I wrote about bench pressing. If you imagine someone is helping you lift the bar, it actually seems lighter. This is the same mechanism that enabled the pope's "light" experience and consequent surge of confidence.

This is a normal human capability, something that comes with our flesh-and-blood machinery. It's sort of a scam but it works. If you don't believe me, try it at home or at the gym. Just believe that someone (an elf, an angel, whatever) is helping you and voila -- you will feel stronger.

I continue to approve of this pope, even though he thinks he's in touch with a sky god. As long as this motivates him to do good things, he's all right in my book.