Bill and I were out for lunch. A nice change from the ongoing Furniture Yahtzee game. Also, warm and dry, which was definitely not true outside.
As we left, we passed a sign a lot like the one above. I wanted to stop and take a photo but the traffic (on a six lane road) was terrible. It was very grey and still raining. So, I decided to make my own. I’ll need your help, though. The actual sign had garlands of gold tinsel all across the top. If you’d just imagine them into picture, that would be great.
Now, I suspect that many of you are wondering why this sign? Why now? And perhaps, WTF??? I hear you.
It has a lot to do with the notion of meta-narratives, which I’ve spent a good portion of the last 20 years studying. Boiled down, that means each of us has a map of reality deep within our awareness and the details of the map have a great deal to do with our experience of the world.
Then come the tricky parts. Each of our maps is different from everyone else’s map. And, many of us don’t realize that our maps of reality are just maps.
The holiday season offers lots of examples.
Think about Santa Claus. That’s part of your map of reality whether your answer was true or false or somebody else’s map. Try Hanukkah. That’s part of your map also, whatever your answer. Holiday cookies. Decorations. Even weather. Built from beliefs and experiences, often non-conscious. All part of your map. And different from everyone else’s map.
Or you might be wondering why we’re talking about holidays at all, in light of bombings and oil pipelines and homelessness and global warming and the incoming political administration. Maps.
And why does this whole meta-narrative/map thing matter?
It matters because, when we wrap our heads around the notion that our maps of reality are just maps, we gain the power to edit those maps. And, when we start editing the maps, making them work better for us, then we gain a lot more influence over the experiences in our lives.
Here’s a simple holiday example. Gifts.
All about getting? Or giving? Or trouble receiving, maybe? Does that feel oddly out of balance, even if it is familiar? When you consider the issue of gifts along with some of your deeply held beliefs about ethics or religion or politics, would you like the gift neighborhood of your map to look just a bit different?
You can do that. (And help to shape the maps your kids are building!)
It starts with doing something different. There are lots of possibilites.
Say you’d like the focus of gift giving (and receiving) to be more on love and kindness than on money and stuff. Get creative!
Chickens from Heifer International, delivered to families in need in honor of those you love. Tickets to a special event with or for your grandkids. Unique items from your local consignment and collectibles store, which is an environmentally wise option. A beloved book or cd filled with memories. A bag or two of groceries for a nearby food pantry. You get it.
And get the kids involved. Take them shopping. Maybe just for one special item for someone they love. Let them wrap. Maybe in recycled paper. (It really doesn’t matter what gifts look like!) Take older kids to help shovel a neighbor’s driveway. Stretch the giving from those we know and love already to include some of those we don’t know yet.
So, does any of this make everything OK, right now?
Well, in one sense, no. Bombings and racism and hunger and toxic water are still there. I hear you.
In another sense, yes. You see, a big part of the reason I noticed this sign today is that it fits in with my map of reality. Most of the things that get in, for any of us, are things that fit with our maps. (Which we should probably talk about one day soon.) And, when I look around me carefully, I am reminded that I am OK. Here. Now.
And those of us who are OK in the moment have a tendency to suddenly realize that being OK gives us the opportunity to work on some of the things that need to be closer to OK than they are just yet. Which means that lots of things start getting closer to OK. Which, when you think about it, is a pretty big gift in itself!
I think it’s called Hope…
P.S. For grandmothers and those with grandmother energy in their hearts… still time!