Nurturing our own thoughts is a profoundly powerful practice, but we don’t often pay much attention to what we are feeding them, or whether we are ‘caring for’ them at all. The sheer volume of news, headlines and social media we interact with everyday saturates our short-term memories, keeping us looped into a habit that will, over time, rewire the functions of our brains. Our dopamine pathways will shift as we move from enjoying life’s simple pleasures to requiring fresh content in order to find ‘joy’, period. Research shows that the brain scan of a social media ‘addict’ is similar in structure to a gambling or substance ‘abuser’, where the ‘addiction’ becomes the brain’s primary value, regardless of what we actually want for our lives. Addicts rarely desire to be in the positions they occupy, and many of them don’t even understand how they got there in the first place. The winding (and binding) road to addiction of any sort begins with the care and feeding of our own mental structures. Since how we feel about ourselves is the single most important ‘ingredient’ in finding our true passion. ‘awaring’ about how well-appointed we are to support our own self-esteem seems like a natural, ‘go to’, no?!
We all make passing comments about the unhealthiness of what we see and hear on a daily basis, but the sentiments remain largely skin-deep. As we acknowledge them on mainly superficial levels, we not only ‘ignore’ their true effects, we normalize them. We ‘forget’ to take the time to find meaning in the effect itself, as it/they pertain to our own inner environment. I say ‘forget’, because I believe it’s something we used to do organically–before we became ‘civilized’ beings. In fact, I am convinced that our current brand of civilization is a gross distortion from the natural connections that remain perpetually offered by the world we inhabit. In order to make that make sense at all, however, we have to be willing to take an objective look at our own belief systems and how they were formed in the first place. This is very simple in practice, but complicated and often scary and undesireable in theory.
Most of us get the luxury of having carefree moments to recall from childhood. That time in life when we hadn’t yet realized everything that was ‘wrong’ with us, and we just enjoyed being goofy within ourselves. Our ideas were our playground (especially when we were actively at play) and the dreams we would dream while awake were as vivid as those we experienced in sleep. At some point, we each began to feel the ‘limitations’ that ‘stand’ in the way of our boundless personal freedoms. Rules, expectations and opinions were arbitrarily assigned by our families and/or caregivers, and quickly expanded to include what our friends thought, too. The entire structure was ‘balanced’ on our legal system, which, by the time we got here, was already so mired in ‘red tape’ that many people’s first awareness of its more confusing boundaries have only come when they were in violation of them. That's a sad but increasingly true fact.
Yesterday, I was waiting in the car at Quik Trip while Fred went in to get one thing. In the span of less than three minutes, a man pulled up next to me and got two little girls out of the car. A truck backed up without looking, missing my car and his by scant inches, as the man stood holding the hand of each girl tightly, holding his breath, bracing for possible impact. The truck shifted gears and drove off, unaware of the moment of panic they had caused us, and the near-accident they had narrowly escaped. The man shook it off and proceeded inside with the little girls. He returned less than 45 seconds later with a gallon of milk in one hand and a half gallon of chocolate milk in the other, the little girls’ hands now each holding his little fingers, as he held onto both them and the milk.
He was buckling them back into their carseats, eyes darting furtively to the doors of Quik Trip, when Fred returned. Though I knew the answer, I still asked the question, “Did you see that guy pay for his items?” He did not, and no there’s no way the guy had time. Not even three minutes had passed, and my thoughts had shifted to a completely different trajectory than the discussion that was happening moments before. Even the near accident took a backseat after watching this grown man have to walk in a store with his kids and steal milk. At what point will those little girls understand the concept of stealing and how will it affect them based on their life experiences? The possibilities are endless and only time will tell. It will depend very much on the individual makeup of each girl.
What those did for me was ‘allow’ a deeper perspective around the value of life and things that I get to easily take for granted. In our modern world today, everything is quickly dissected, masticated, and spit back out, giving us very little to ‘chew on’. Pondering, the act of thinking about something carefully; weighing and reflecting; has been all but usurped by quick reactions and judgments that fail to take in the wholeness of a thing. They make for good entertainment, but as I reflect uneasily on the ‘City’ scenes from the Hunger Games, I’m inclined to wonder, “how often does our ‘entertainment’ play off the guttural shame at the root of our specific, perceptual distortions?”. It’s a question I’ll ruminate on for a while, as I think about that man, and those kids, and the fact that I don’t have the first clue what it’s like to have to take something without paying to nourish my children. The contrast is stark and impacting next to the types of issues I’m ‘struggling’ to juggle in my own life. Universal perspective is a well-timed and beautiful resource, especially when we endeavor to see and feel it.
At some level, we are all aware that we live in a world that tries to offer us ways to be somehow ‘better’ at every turn, and that most of us have been conditioned to ‘need’ that for ourselves to feel ‘good’. Try as we might, we haven’t yet landed on a product or system that supports a permanent ‘fix’. The ‘newest’ thing is replaced each season by the ‘next new’ thing, and we continue to buy the hype because we want to feel somehow ‘complete’. Our beauty industry is expected to grow to a value nearing $800 billion in the next few years. Still, the opportunity to try the latest and greatest trends exists only for those with the means to implement them, and those rising numbers show where we collectively (and increasingly) place value. On another level we are also conscious of the universal truth that states ‘true beauty comes from inside, and is revealed through the expressions from our Souls”.
The impact of ‘beauty in the world’ that doesn’t fit the traditional mold is everywhere, especially if you are looking for it. At Our Raw Material, we support the essence of every human being, offering a common framework for pondering the formation and expressions of our own unique belief systems. No matter what type/range of ‘human experiences’ your life has delivered, ORM’s structure fosters deep and connected personal understanding (a domino-effect of really cool aha! moments), which often leads to expanded personal acceptance, and the ability to make space for others to reach the same – no matter how large the pile of shame and blame has blown up to fill the space around us.