When I was a kid I had the pleasure of having a mother who could cook like nobody’s business. A number of my friends’ moms did not cook great, so my freinds often would eat at my place…spontaneously….planned. They loved my mom’s cooking as much as I did. But my mother (and this may have been part of her heritage) would often, at the end of a meal, ask me to “finish this up…there’s not enough to bother packing away.” For the first 18 years of my life, as I was a growing boy, this was tremendously appreciated. But then, in my twenties, it began to feel like she was expecting me to be her human gargorator. Even if I was full, she would insist that I finish this up or finish that up. Eventually, I had to call her out on that. I know it was a form of her love language. But it was just not working for me at all. So the love language had to change. I suggested opulent gifts instead, but we were poor, so none of that was possible.
When I was 16 I had the unfortunate experience of witnessing my girlfriend’s older brother force his three year old son to “finish what is on your plate.” The thing is, this asshole put a mound of mashed potatoes the size of which was bigger than your average soft ball. The kid ate everything else on his plate but could not finish his potatoes, but his father made him sit there and eat, and eat, and eat. My girlfriend and I were attempting to change her brother’s mind about this and arguing about the size of the food HE dished onto the plate verses the size of this little kid’s stomach. He became even more beligerent. Then the kid threw up…all over the kitchen table. Of course he did! This guy was about to lay a beating on the kid when both my girlfriend and I flew at him, knocked him down and took his son out of the house. We loaded him up into the car and drove him to his mother’s place. I do not know what happened after that. I was 16 and just glad that I was there to help and that I never had to go back to this man’s house ever again.
Food is not the only thing that people like to force feed others. Often people will force feed their beliefs and biases. I have a friend who has a son who likes to wear girl’s clothes. She is completely okay with that. Her husband is not. He informed his son that boys are “not allowed” to wear girl’s clothes. This created tension in their home. He is very wrapped up in his “cultural” beliefs, not even realizing that since his country was colonized, his “culture” became Christainized and therefore is not really his “culture” at all. And when he tried to pull the culture card, she let him know point blank that allowing kids to express themselves is part of HER culture, so he need not ever make his son feel bad about that again. Good for her!
Recently I have been having these wierd dreams in which I have hair again. It is not the having hair that feels wierd. It is the content of each dream. But a common thread is that I have hair. So I decided to grow my hair out and see what I have for that. A number of weeks into that process, and wearing head scarves so that I could hide the strange phases from everyone, it finally occured to me that in my dreams my hair is never the same as in the dream before. So this got me to thinking…should I get some wigs?
Now before you laugh your heads off, just remember that men have been wearing wigs since at least the 15th century, so this is not a new or radical concept. It is just that we, as a “culture,” have begun to be biased against such things. And for that reason alone, I am going to do this and let people be challenged in their biases. After all, I like to have choices in my life. CHOICES! So if one day I feel like rocking the Jean Luc Picard look, then that I will, but by the next day, I might want a full head of hair. And you never know, I might just ROCK that look! Imagine showing up to a dinner at someone’s home and suddenly YOU HAVE HAIR! That would be hilarious.
And on that note, I cannot tell you how many times, while dining at someone’s home for the first time, I have been expected to participate in saying Grace, which is a prayer that I am not into and never have been, but the assumption is that I will just “play along.” I have never done that to THEM, so why would they do that to me? When this happens, I am now at the point where I let people know to go ahead without me. I will sit quietly while they do their thing, but I will not be bowing my head, or holding anyone’s hand, and I will certainly NOT be praying with them. Their religion is something that I will always respect, but that respect will never bleed into a participation in it. People often don’t realize, as they are so steeped in their traditions, that they are actually forcing those same traditions down the throats of others.
I have on a number of occasions stopped myself from expressing an opinion on something that is none of my business, because I realized that in doing so I am coming from a stance of spiritual footing that someone else is not using as a foundation. As long as what I am refraining from expressing an opinion on is nothing that is directly harming anyone, then it is not up to me to insert my opinion (even if it is more right, haha!) into the situation. We can all have differing beliefs. Expecting our own to be adopted by everyone else is the problem that many possess. And that is what creates toxic situations globally.
When my kids were very young, people would often ask me if I was raising them to be shamans as well. My response was that if they have a natural talent towards such things, then they will find their way to it on their own, without any assistance or force feeding from me or anyone else. I think a lot of people have had the hope that their kids will grow up to be an extended version of themselves. Thus you will often get the demand from parents that a child become a doctor or a lawyer or a police person or a soldier or a hockey star etc. I have never wanted my kids to be an extended version of myself. That would make them a second rate version of me. I have always wanted them to be a first rate version of themselves. So if down the road they embrace shamanism as a way of living (and in many ways they already naturally do) then so be it. If they do not, then so be it. They have their own minds, their own goals and aspirations, and their own souls to guide them. They don’t need anyone pushing them into anything, and if there is one thing that they HAVE learned from me, it is to always be personally authentic, no matter what anyone else’s expectations may be.
As we begin to recognise how we have been force fed things throughout our lives, we are then able to clear that junk out of our consciousness and out of our decision making and out of our self-guilting habits. And once that is done, we are able to allow ourselves to check ourselves about our own tendency to force feed others. Once we let go of that, we are also freed from feelings of frustration that come up when someone is not doing what we think they should or acting in a way that we think they should. Besides, why on earth would we want to “should” upon someone?