Yesterday I sat in the company of my 19 month old grand-daughter as she spent most of the morning fixated on exploring water in a cup. In her water bottle, my cup and her sippy cup it was all water; but somehow the water in my cup held the most appeal. The appeal was so great she offered me the exchange: held out her water bottle to me and reached for my cup. The end result was a lot of water everywhere when we took the exchange outside and I gave her space to play. She wanted the best cup for herself perhaps.
Hanging with her; chatting, commentating her actions and contributing water to the moment; gave me an opportunity to consider again the messiness of self-discovery. I could have stopped her but where would the understanding come from for her. She needed to experiment and experience the consequences of her decision to pour and not pour. Right down to the feel of the water in the cup, she played with it all. At one stage she deconstructed the lidded cups and tried to put them together in different ways.
I could have told her about it all but a lack of shared language skills and life understandings precluded a cohesive meaning being understood. Granny has a few more words than grand-girl. Granny knows that the straw from the water bottle lid won’t work with the sippy cup but it didn’t matter. She was imaging it was possible and showing me she understood that water came up through the straw to the mouth piece. This fact and that wearing the water on a cold day was just fun. I never did get my cup back.
The big life lesson. We all need to explore and find what we know when it is our time to know it. It is okay to experiment, find similarities and explore differences but the knowing soul is different in all of us. In the same way that it was unhelpful to want to short cut grand-girl’s experiment with my knowledge so it is unhelpful to hold others back who are down the road from us. Sameness may not be helpful when it comes to the gaining of wisdom, particularly self-wisdom.
Growing in wisdom is messy and sometimes uncontrolled. It’s the intention of growing through an experience rather than growing into someone else’s idea of what it should or could be; that makes all the difference. Wisdom that serves us is the wisdom that has been experienced and in a sense proven to us by ourselves. (Having said that, others do know tings we don’t and it is Ok to listen to them but never to intentionally turn out personal knowledge and responsibility over to them)
This week there is emotion on the streets and in the airwaves. The emotion has a voice that can sound like judgement to some, call to arms to other and still others hear painful lament. It is evidence that something is happening and ides of belonging and respect are being explored. As members of ‘tribes’ or culture groups some of our birth and some of our choosing there is a sense of being asked to decide what is absolutely correct from polar opposite views.
In the street the other day I was asked to justify the view points and actions of people who are protesting by a blustering man who was all puffed up with fear and anger (my assumption from the signs available to me, he might not agree). He didn’t seem satisfied with my answer that every human regardless of ‘tribe’ or ‘belief’ deserved to live respected, safe and well. If that was happening thoughtlessly or intentionally, then it was a problem which required a solution, not violence of heart or hand.
Skin colour makes it obvious that prejudicial actions happen. Even more obvious when it is shared in pictures across all the media sources available. I don’t know what that story feels like because it has not been my experience: to be treated badly because my skin is the wrong colour. I can not tell that story from a person perspective but I can see it from the metaphor of a small child playing with cups.
Dreams, hopes, human hearts exist in billions of forms. All of those human hearts want to be alive because their body is still breathing and blood is still circulating in it. If humans were merely animals as breathing implies then they would do what animals do without thought for the consequences of their actions on others. There are many who say we are no better than that anyway, look at the media. Maybe they are right, but maybe it isn’t that simple.
Belonging and the impact of that for each human is linked to health and well-being. Just because the form that holds that need is different doesn’t change the heart’s desire to be fully human in a connected and welcoming society. Joshua Greene in Moral Tribes spends a long time explaining and asking questions about what is possible for all members of all tribes to agree on so we could be a morally unified mass of humans on the planet. He came to no satisfying answer except to say that everyone is looking for the same thing in the end.
Potentially that may be the key. Intention! Intention to try and find a way. intention to listen and try to understand. Intention to hear what is being said from the speaker’s point of view not an attack on one’s own and find a shared understanding. Intention to see if parts that have never before been tried together can work or be adapted. Intention to respect with loving concern….. Intention for good to come out of what is loud, painful and at times scary to behold.
Possibility can allow that adults could be as innocently intent as a 19 month old trying to reshape the best way to drink water.