Sorry this was late everyone. I got hacked.
We’ve talked about how your name is interpreted by every person. We talked about how people will judge you based on your alignment with their judgments, and when you’ve lived determines what kind of living you can earn. It was pretty impossible to be an IT person in 1860 and it’s a lot harder to find work as a blacksmith now than it would have been then.
Today we add how where you’re from defines you, where you’ve been defines you, and where you are defines you. And remember, each of these who, what, when and where layers are all happening simultaneously. You are an ocean, with one current going one direction and others traveling in their own, and yet all are the ocean. And on top bobs your ego like a boat, thinking it is moving up and down, when really it is the universe.
As an example, the town you’re from can define your physical ability to withstand big climactic changes, what teams you feel passionate about, or even what your politics are. You won’t even know you absorbed these identities. Additionally, your nation defines your culture, what tastes in foods you’re loyal to, and what language you speak. In turn your language further informs your understanding of the world. Languages can break down the idea of something as obvious as colour into as few as three categories while others can create hundreds!
Where you’ve been defines you because that will impact how flexible you believe the world is. Before you’ve eaten at someone else’s house for the first time, you think you know how each food tastes, but really you know how your family cooks. Then you leave your country to backpack around the world and you discover there’s places that can’t even buy your foods let alone cook them the same way.
Where you are defines you because I’m sure ancient grass-skirted Polynesians seemed strange or even scary to the first whites who met them, but they eventually figured out they were super peaceful and now today things travel by media, so even if you’ve never seen Hawaii personally, you can go there virtually, and therefore pretty much half the world now knows how to Hula.
How they combine is this: Imagine you’re a tourist on holiday, it’s the nation you’re visitings national holiday, and you’re at a ceremony laughing and singing while you learn their cultural dance. You can imagine that’s a very pleasant experience. Maybe you make lots of local friends you dance and sing with.
Now imagine it three years later, after a revolution, and you’re a doctor in the military of what is now viewed as an opposing force. You still love the place and you think you’re still the same person with the same name, and you’d operate on anyone from either side. You thought you were there to help, but the locals might see the uniform in the new time and context and rather than dance with you they’ll want to attack you even though you’d personally save them. People can literally kill people that they would be life-saving friends with in another time or context.
Today’s meditation is to ask three questions and get three answers to each: How has the city you’re from shaped you? How has your nation shaped you? How has where you been shaped you? And if you’re not currently in your birthplace; how has where you are right now defined you? Because as people from “away” well know, you can live in Canada’s Maritimes since you were ten years old and yet you will never be considered a local by the locals.
Don’t just get easy answers. Try to find at least one surprise in there. These process are always worth a lot more if you find yourself surprising yourself by what you discover. Because those discoveries are what expands you. They literally push out envelopes of possibility. So be as big as you’re able, because it’s a grand universe and it’s just waiting for you to discover that for yourself.
Have a wonderful day everyone.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.