TOUCHING THE WORLD, ONE HEART AT A TIME August 25, 2015
We all touch the world. Whether we want to or not, whether we like it or not, we touch the lives of the people we interact with and our touch spreads through them, to the rest of the world, be it negatively or positively. We see this in preschool children who mimic others, attempting to soak up all the "how to be a person" from their peers and caregivers and environments. We see this in animal communities when several members learn a new skill and, suddenly, they all know the skill. We see this when someone angry makes us angry, when someone smiling makes us smile, and most importantly, when someone plants a seed of change and growth in our lives.
Do you know what I mean by planting a seed? It's the kind of lesson that, we can understand later with hindsight, was growing in us for a long time, thanks to the subtle influence of someone who touched our lives way back when. Like a seed, it takes time and growth to thrive and flourish; it takes time before we are blooming in a new way.
I'll give you an example, for clarity's sake. When I was 16, my Santa Cruz hippie friends were inspired to be vegan. I was not. When I was 20, however, I cracked an egg one day, thought about what I was really eating, and the vegan pieces fell into place. I'm no longer vegan, but I was for four years and it facilitated a huge passion for nutrition and health that I hadn't known before. It changed my whole life. When I was eight, a relative said to me "Swear to God?" and I was instantly desperate to understand what God meant. That tiny moment sparked a deep spiritual awakening that has only gotten stronger throughout my life. In my mid-twenties, as another example, my best friend Melissa taught me -over many years; this was a slowly growing seed- the power of being a good listener, of better communicating in general, and what it means to be a really good friend.
These seeds are planted everywhere in our lives.
I mean, think about how our parents (and other role models) shape our lives and personalities from the beginning. The older I get, the more I hear my mother's voice when I open my mouth to speak. Or my grandmother's laugh. Once in a while, my Aunt Deb's confidence resounds from me. Or my father's stubborn strength and pride.
We channel the influences of those who touch our lives. They become part of us. And they radiate from us, touching the lives of everyone around us.
A good example of this might be the child who has a rough upbringing; she's taught by life, her people, and her social status that she doesn't mean much. Yet one caring teacher can touch the heart and self-esteem of that child forever when she treats her as if she is valued and valuable. It plants a seed of self-worth that grows within the muck of believing she is less than good enough. That memory of care and respect stays with us. It grows with us.
This is one of the main reasons I work with young children, in fact. Not only are the neuropathways of the brain being developed exceedingly quickly during the first four years of life (neuropathways which will fail to develop, the child's growth and future therefore failing to thrive, if they don't receive enough input and care in those first years), but so is the child's foundation for their lifelong sense of self-worth. So much of who they are and will be is built in the first few years, through love or through fear and neglect. Every time I touch a child's life with love, I touch the world with love.
Every time I am kind and patient and joyful, this means, and every time I am loving and consistent, and every time I show a child they are trusted and valuable as people, I have planted the seeds of self-love and self-worth. Every time I create a fun, loving, safe space for the children I work with, I've protected them from exposure to one that is not.
I try to do this with my friends and family, as well. I like to keep my intentions kind and honest and loving in the hopes that these things are contagious. Why? Because I want to live in a world that's kind, honest, and loving. I long for a humanity that is kind, honest, and loving! Isn't it time to weed out anything less than those things? Fear and pain and separation have been suffocating the good in this world for long enough.
It's time for love to thrive. And the change begins one heart at a time.