Human number one feels okay being bombarded with a box full of emails. He tackles them, one by one, and then he continues on to more busy things. He flies to the top of the work chain. He never rests. Not even when he’s sick. Successful. They say.
(Nobody can figure out why success looks like that.)
Human number two feels overwhelmed by emails and noise, so instead he chooses to paint. Beside the trees. He struggles with focus, but he needs to struggle with focus, because if he focused he’d lose his flow. His authentic flow. The thing within him that changes the lives of others in profoundly beautiful ways.
(Nobody can understand him. Nobody can figure out why he’s broken like that.)
He feels ashamed. He has a choice. He takes medication so he can be more like the first guy. Everybody breathes a sigh of relief.
He slowly dies inside.
And so does everyone around him because
where are all the beautiful things?
All toxic cultures die.
Everybody is happy, being the person they were always meant to be.
Sometimes I wish I had been born of another culture, a culture of eyes wide open, a culture of hearts wide open.
They say to resist ‘what is’ is to cause your own suffering. Am I suffering? No. But I certainly do ask the question: what if?
Would I be further along in my life journey if, as a child, my sensitivity had been celebrated by my culture, rather than shunned? Would I have saved myself years of healing from the innocent unconsciousness of those around me? Because of a rigid cultural narrative, those who have loved me have accidentally hurt me. I shudder to remember those who have held me in their lives as an insignificant supporting character.
I hope humanity soon understands that the world they see is a choice, rather than a given. I hope the beautiful little soft girls of the world are one day celebrated for the depth and gorgeous attention to detail they bring the world. How shameful that they haven’t been, thus far.
Am I angry that I was brought up starved of female role models? Am I angry that not even my Mother knew how to teach me to truly grow into womanhood? How could she? All she knew was what the western world was. Hardened. Money hungry. Black and white.
There is an aspect of me that is angry. But a bigger part of me understands. There is no one to be angry with. We have all been brought up in boxes. Every single one of us, and when you’re inside of a box (we call them cultures) you truly cannot see there is another way. Another way to see, another way to be. And if you cannot see or be, you cannot teach. You cannot change.
I hope enough eyes are opening, now, to the beauty of individuality.
Cultural differences. Familial differences. How could you ever say a person is wrong in their beliefs, traditions or values? And what do you do if one person in a relationship is satisfied with the chosen boundaries, and another is left feeling unfulfilled, unsupported, traumatised, even.
What do you do?
One mother may birth a child with the expectation that her job is simply to raise a child to adulthood and set her free when she comes of age. The child has been given life. She will be guided. She will be taught to fend for herself. But a mother is a mother, says the mother. Her boundaries are strict, yet fair, and she has no intention to provide for her child beyond basic care, until she dies. She has provided well, therefore, she has loved.
Another mother may birth a child with the expectation that her job has only just begun, and will never end. She is love, and she will give and give and give, in every way, to this child until her final breaths. She will provide the role of parent. She will provide the role of best friend and confidant. Her boundaries are far and wide: anywhere love lives, she and her daughter will wander, together, always. She has provided, therefore, she has loved.
What is a mother?
It is an individual question.
It is an individual answer.
And it is only one of the question answer combinations of life with no black or white answer to relieve us of conflict and struggle.
The rules of life and love.
There are none.
But there are many.
How easy it is to fight for our right to be right.
How difficult it is to find true peace amidst the chaos of life.
The oddities of humanity. The neuroses that so often become us that really have nothing to do with who we are, at all, or what’s best for our health, wellbeing and growth.
Take breakfast, for example.
My body doesn’t know that breakfast is a man-made occasion, and yet, still, I choose to feed it specific foods such as toast, cereal, orange juice or coffee at the very time it expects to find them in my life. The morning.
My body, I’m fairly certain, just needs food. To be nourished. It doesn’t care if what I eat in the morning is not, what I might consider, ‘breakfast food’. Only the odd little whisper of my brain cares about that. Should I listen? Or should I challenge what it has to say?
It’s not just cultural expectations around breakfast that rouse me. For too many years, I allowed the cultural narrative of suppressing emotional vulnerability to rule my choices, and, as a consequence, I lost the ability to live with my heart. Goodness gracious me. My precious life moments. Potential soul singing moments, destroyed because I succumbed to a life story that, ultimately, had nothing to do with the truth of who I am.
I have no regrets. Every wrong turn has brought me to this place of strength, wholeness and home, and I am grateful for the rocky roads I’ve travelled thus far. How could I be anything but grateful for the ways it has all helped to shape and expand my perspective?
I’ve been getting to know myself through music again.
I wanted to go a little further into this idea because not only does music tell familiar stories and remind me of people and places…it also becomes me. As in: I embody it. This is the most magical phenomenon I have ever known.
I read a theory, once, where it was said that the mirror neurons of the brain are somehow responsible for this sort of mega feeling capability, and I only wish there were enough hours in the day for me to truly explore, and come to an understanding of, it all. I wish more people talked about their subjective feeling experiences so we could all pool our individual authentic truths and perhaps come up with a better, more holistic understanding of the nature of reality. Maybe one day people will open up fully to each other, even about the stranger things in life. Maybe.
I’ll start the ball rolling.
The other day I was driving along listening to a song where the singer was expressing a feeling of complete and utter freedom; a gorgeous energy that felt fun, wild, curious and sexy all at the same time. What a beautiful feeling it was as it surged through my body. I was alive.
While listening to this particular song, I recognised the essence of the singer as seperate to my own, and yet…her feelings had become me. I was feeling her freedom within my body. I was feeling her cheekiness and sass. It was as if I was her.
What-on-earth. If nothing else, I came away from the song understanding that this was clearly an energy in my life I am needing to explore. But on a more out there note, I had to wonder. What might humans truly be capable of if we removed the stigma and shame attached to the more, umm, left of centre traits of human nature?
We haven’t even begun to seriously discuss this sort of phenomena without attaching it to the words ‘disorder’ or ‘disease’. What if…we changed our story? What if we framed high sensitivity in humans as exactly what it is: high sensitivity in humans. Nothing more. Nothing less. I think you could guarantee that far less of us would suffer from the anxiety that naturally arises from being perceived as different. Or, worse, broken.
I suppose I know the problem in a nutshell. You only need to look at events where the human ego has completely rejected any sort of difference perceived as weird or threatening in any way. In 1692, for instance, hysteria swept through an entire town in the U.S.A and condemned many women (women who, by the way, very likely perceived themselves as normal) to death if they were discovered to be witches. These women were probably just highly sensitive women, who very likely had been born a little different to the rest…and yet.
So it’s not surprising to me, then, that humanity has taken quite a long time to truly own the more eclectic parts of ourselves. No one wants to be kicked out of the pack. No one wants to stray too far from safe and secure. You know. Just in case. (Cough: no one has been burnt at the stake for quite a while now.)
Perhaps I am different, but really, who isn’t? We are all unique in our own way, and I believe with just a few tweaks in perspective (for instance, we might do well to dismantle the damaging cultural narratives that seperate people) humanity might be onto something really very special.
It’s funny. To think of the damage caused by cultural norms and stereotypes.
Of course, there are the absolutely beautiful cultural narratives out there. Those that cherish and honour human life by holding it, by respecting it so beautifully that even the hardest of hearts must surely be touched by the story of it all.
I heard a story as beautiful, just the other day. My counsellor told it to me: how, in her culture, when a woman becomes pregnant, she becomes the queen. The whole tribe lavish her with love, care, and most importantly, perhaps…food.
This discussion came about after a lovely tender moment where she looked over at me, my bulging belly sweetly growing a perfect little gift, and offered to bake me something lovely to celebrate the occasion (that’s right, surprise, I’m fourteen weeks pregnant. And how lovely it is, to me. How lovely it is. xx)
But, I digress. Because although there are some absolutely beautiful cultural stories passed on by certain cultures in the world, other cultures do not even realise their own toxicity. (And when I say toxicity, what I mean is…truly, their cultural ideas are heartbreaking and damaging to individuals who do not fit into the selected story being told.)
There are some absolutely wonderful things to be said about the culture I was born into. But one arm of the narrative, an arm that destroyed any hope of me developing healthy self-esteem in my early years, was the idea that vulnerability and softness were somehow character flaws. I was mostly soft.
As it turns out, this soft part of me, this sensitivity, is my super power; a power that helps me soothe, and bring safety to those who need it. A power that helps me tap into the world of everything and nothing, and pull down the words and creativity needed for my writing to touch people in the way that it seems to.
But my culture called me ‘soft’. It told me to ‘harden up’, and it assumed that If I didn’t…then surely I must be broken, at worst. Naive at best. Never have I been these labels.
And if you are a deep and tender heart resonating with these words…never have you been these labels, either.
Always we’ve been perfect.
Just the way we are.
Think of the trillions of flowers, plants and trees out there. Some are soft. Some are hard, shrubs built to last in the wind and rain and hail. None of them judge each other for being ‘wrong’ in anyway. They simply exist.
Well. Isn’t the world in an interesting state. That’s more of a statement, rather than a question, really, isn’t it: hence the absence of a question mark.
I’ve been wondering if perhaps humanity, as a collective, might be going through the same sort of life stage as me. Sifting through all the nonsense, trying to figure out which pieces to keep, and which pieces to shiny up and multiply. Trying to figure it all out, really, and will we? Can life be figured out? What actually is a state of figured out? I don’t think any of us knows, which is probably why we’re all in a bit of a collective pickle stew, at the moment.
It interests me to no end, this state we find ourselves in: us versus them, such massive divides, each heart believing their own is the ultimate truth. It’s fascinating because it has me asking questions I really don’t think can be answered in a black and white sort of way. Where once I would have declared a certain type of opinion ‘wrong’, a certain type of person ‘wrong’, I’m finding it impossible to do so, these days.
How can one side say the other is wrong entirely when there is a fifty- fifty split in opinion: half believing one thing, the other half believing another? It makes me wonder if people might open up to the grand possibility that, perhaps, no one is right.
Perhaps we all just are.
Sometimes pleasant experiences arise from us simply being as we are.
And sometimes complete and utter chaos reigns, and quite frankly, disturbs a great deal of the beautiful many of us so cherish about life here on earth. Perhaps it’s a little like a bush fire. In order to see those beautiful new sprouts of green peeping through the forest floor, first the old trees must burn.