What’s Your Story?

ya-real-peace-gandhiHaving two children means, among other things, that I meet little people all the time, and I can tell you it’s very rare to meet a child who isn’t full of joy, curiosity, enthusiasm, laughter and love. I believe most of us come into the world this way, but sometimes we are taught fear, mistrust, repression and hatred. It’s so easy to blame “society” for the state we’re in globally, but society is made up of people; all these things start at home. Everything around us is a reflection of everything within us. Why are we at war within ourselves, and why are we feeding that violence to our kids?

I could go back a long way and talk about tribal cultures, and how members of the tribe took care of one another. If one person had a sick baby, everyone had a sick baby. If one person had food, everyone had food. The beautiful planet was respected and honored, and people knew how to read the night sky. It’s funny how we describe tribal cultures as primitive; “every man for himself” is a much less evolved way of being. Thinking we have infinite resources that we can just tear through is completely naive. I’m not here to suggest we should all go back to tribal living, although I will say they didn’t worry about health insurance.

The reality is that we need each other, we need community and connection and a sense of meaning and purpose, and we need to recognize we are one people, on one planet. Few things in life are more fulfilling than uplifting other people. Giving your heart, your attention, and anything else you’ve got in the service of helping someone else fills your being with gratitude and joy. We’re built for this stuff. Empathy is natural to us.

We have to change the stories we’re telling ourselves and our children, and stop (literally), buying into the lies. What’s the fastest way to get a person to buy a product they don’t need? Make them feel their happiness depends on it. How are you going to be happy if you smell bad? If your teeth are yellow? If you have wrinkles? If you feel sad sometimes, or anxious about social situations? How are you going to be happy if you don’t look like a supermodel? You only have 1000 square feet?? How are you going to be happy?!? Your car is ten years old? Gosh, you must be embarrassed about that. You haven’t met your other half? OMG, get online!!! You’re ten pounds overweight? How exactly can you stand to walk out the door and let people see you in that condition? Self-hatred is poison, and our society feeds on it. If you believe you’re not enough, you’re believing a lie. Culturally, we distract ourselves with this whole line of thinking, and fail to pay attention to the things that matter. We get so involved in buying, we forget about being in and of the world. We forget about standing up and saying, “Hey! Wait a minute, this is not right, and not okay.” And by “this” I could go in so many different directions, and I’m sure you could, too. There is injustice, poverty, heartbreak, violence and a lack of empathy in our own backyard, and all across the globe.

When you love yourself and recognize your gifts and figure out how to share them, you’ll be lit up from the inside. You won’t worry about how you look, you’ll just glow. How you look is the most fleeting, unimportant, ephemeral part of who you are. It’s the result of a genetic lottery. How you look will change as you get older, and when you die, hopefully way off in the distant future, I don’t think you’ll be consumed with how you look when it happens. My guess is, you’ll be thinking about all the people in your life whom you love, all the people who love and cherish you, all the marvelous experiences you’ve had that have brought you joy and a feeling of incredible gratitude. If we spent half the energy we spend obsessing over how we look on things that matter, I really believe we’d change the world in record speed. And who obsesses over that most of all? Women.

It’s a generalization of course, but women tend to be the nurturers in our society. Let me say right away that we all have masculine and feminine sides. Some men have a stronger feminine energy, some women have a stronger masculine energy. Some men I know are way more nurturing than many women I know. So please don’t misunderstand me. I just don’t believe it’s a coincidence that as a society we distract our nurturers with all this bullshit. If we’re all worrying about numbers on a scale, we aren’t paying attention to the number of children in the world living in war zones. If we’re obsessed with frown lines, we aren’t looking at political lines being drawn in the sand. I say this, because we need our nurturers right now. I say this whether you’re a man or a woman.

When you give of yourself you create a feeling of well-being around you, because that’s the feeling within you. That’s how we change the story. One person at a time, healing from the inside. Watch what you’re feeding yourself. I don’t just mean the food you put in your mouth, or the products you put on your body (but a lot of that stuff is toxic, and when you love yourself you’ll lose your appetite for that, also); I mean watch what you ingest on TV, the radio, magazines, newspapers…it’s all food. You feed your body, but you also feed your mind and your heart. If you stop tuning into and supporting messages that are designed to make you feel badly about yourself, that appeal to the basest, lowest parts of yourself, that feed on your fear, you do your part in dwindling that market. If there’s no market for self-hatred, who knows what might spring up. Stories about connection and consciousness? About community and being there for each other? Aren’t you really hungry for that?

The world is in chaos. Many of us are looking around in despair, anger and frustration. And you know what? That’s a sane response to what’s happening right now–violence, destruction, fear, confusion, and polarization. People digging their heels in and defending their opinions instead of working together to figure out how to get us back to a place of peace. We’re all scared, we’re all confused, angry, and heartbroken. But we got ourselves into this mess we see around us, and we can get ourselves, and our children, out of it. Are there people so far off the grid there seems no hope? Yes, unfortunately. But is that the majority of people? No. We may have different ideas about how to right this ship, but the first order of business for each of us individually is creating inner peace. Then we can express ourselves calmly, and with compassion. Then we can channel our anger and despair into meaningful action. Then we can say what we want or need to say with respect, and an open mind. This applies to our global situation, but also to our personal situations. Sending you love, and hoping we all start to create some new stories, soon, Ally Hamilton

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