Monday, August 8, 2011

Childhood Aha! Moments

Dating myself with this old photo!
Sometimes during difficult times it is good to get back to basics and nothing gets me there so easily as remembering moments of insight from my childhood!

I was a lucky kid, the only one in a loving extended family, so my epiphanies were for the most part, positive. I think it is important to remember all the times when you arrived at a belief about life. Sometimes, when we were hurt as children, we may have come to a conclusion that is really not borne out today. For instance, we may have decided at an early age that we were not good enough. We need to revisit erroneous conclusions like that and see them from an adult perspective. Sometimes we also need to comfort our inner child and to allow the healing to begin. 

These Aha! moments are very powerful. We need to reinforce the moments of pure clarity when we saw we were one with all and to work with the conclusions we made as children that were false and that we can now release.

"It's never to late to have a happy childhood." Tom Robbins
When I think of Aha! moments from my childhood, that helped shaped me into who I am today, this is the first that comes to mind.

I was about 11 and I was very excited because I was going to my Aunt Jennie's to make Santa Claus's out of brandy snifters! As I recall, you gave him a Styrofoam head and made felt arms that wrapped around the bulbous glass which was his belly. This sounded like high art to me and I could hardly wait.

But then something happened, I don't recall what and I was told I could not go. I was disappointed in the dramatic way only an 11 year old can be, when suddenly something else popped up (again I can't even remember what it was) but I thought "Oh, if I had gone to Aunt Jennie's I would have missed out on this way cooler thing." It was then and there that I had the epiphany...

 "Everything always happens for a reason."

It has been at the core of my being ever since. Of course, the terrible suffering of humanity seems to make this a naive and even heartless maxim, but one must take a much larger view to realize there is divine perfection in all of it. That does not mean we are off the hook to do all we can to lessen the suffering in this world. I think that is one of the main reasons we have been put on this earth.  But when you act from anger you add anger to the world, when you act from inner peace and love that is what you increase in the world. When you remember that every event in your life, no matter how painful, was designed by your higher self to serve the awakening of your soul in this lifetime, everything changes. You approach the world with compassion instead of judgment. Forgiveness blossoms more easily and organically. 

Today this particular Aha! moment manifests for me as an overriding trust in the inherent goodness of the universe, of humanity and of the Divine Plan of which we are all an integral part.

My second Aha! moment occurred when I was a younger child. I was learning that there were many different religions in the world. People were all praying to different Gods, which utterly confused this choir girl from the Olivet First Presbyterian Church! Then one moment it hit me- they were all praying to the same One and calling the One different names. I remember feeling much better then and had my first sense of the unity of all humanity.

The third moment I will share in my next post is about the day I discovered my relationship to the trees; a relationship that still gives me wonderful strength and positive energy. Til the next time (which I promise will be soon)!

I'd love to hear about your Aha! moments from childhood. Peaceful blessings of love and never forget...

You are the center of the universe. 
Divinity exists in you as Love 
unconditional and endless.


paige said...

Dear Barbara,
What a lovely little girl you were, the resemblance to your lovely big girl is still there!!!
I had an early epiphany I will share with you in a future post. Paige

paige said...

dear barbara,
when i was growing up in west virginia, my family had, "colored" help. i had a nanny, a housekeeper and other people of color working in our household. i remember seeing, segregated, housing, restrooms, seats on the bus and at my favorite soda shoppe...and i also remember knowing it was wrong. i felt so close to the wonderful people who helped to raise me and take care of my family. i knew what my grandmother and the other southern folks were saying about, "the coloreds" was false and hateful. i knew it in my heart and soul and spoke my opinions openly, even if they were met with scorn and ridicule. when i moved north i thought i would escape the bigotry, (even though i didn't even understand the concept). i was wrong. a black family moved into our pennsylvania middle class neighborhood and shortly after, their house was leveled by a bomb. i chose to be friends with people of all races, and socioeconomic backgrounds while growing up and i am the better for it.

Barbara Upton said...

Thank you Paige for your kind words and for sharing. And you too have much in common with your little girl- your compassion, empathy, sense of justice and courage in speaking out!

Lanette said...

Paige, how brave you are to share this about your childhood. If you were able to see how wrong this was when you were a child, why do so many others follow their parents' belief systems so blindly?

Barb, my childhood "epiphany" occurred when I was about 5 or 6. I had been praying every night for my profoundly retarded sister to be healed and made well so she could come home from Willowbrook, the state hospital where she had been institutionalized. For some reason, I can clearly remember the exact moment, as I lay in bed rubbing the bottoms of my footsie pajamas on the wall next to my bed, when the realization came over me that God was never going to grant this wish. Prior to this moment I had believed in the naive way only a young child can that if I prayed hard enough (for something really important), I would have my wish granted. The moment when I realized this was not true was crushing. I did not pray again for many years. And even now, much as I love you and wish I shared all your beliefs, I do not believe that my poor sister chose to live and die chained to the wall in her own feces in that hospital. (And this of course is just one example of the billions of forms of suffering that I don't believe people choose.) I do, however, share your radiant belief that how we respond to all the suffering in the world is what unites us in our shared humanity. I love you. -- Lanette

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Unknown said...

What a most lovely picture of you, Barbara, and I agree with Paige, the resemblance is still so clearly there.

One of my most fundamental AHA! moments occurred when I was about 13 or 14, reading the teachings of the Buddha. As long as I can remember I had searched for a bigger picture to life, the reason behind it all, my role in the world. When I read those teachings which were in a Q&A form, such as his students asking questions and the Buddha responding, I felt like coming home. Karma, cause and effect, rebirth, and how to get out of the continuous cycle of suffering, made so much sense to me, that I envisioned to pull myself out of the "mud" of an unhappy childhood by my pigtail on my accord. It was one of most fundamental and liberating moments of my life. I didn't have to wait for someone, God for example, but I had power over my own life. Of course, I learned a lot more lessons after that, painful and happy ones, but life suddenly made sense to me with 13/14 and it still does :)

Barbara Upton said...

Thank you to all for sharing these very moving and personal stories.

My dear Lanette,I actually was thinking of that story from your childhood as I wrote this piece. It is difficult to talk about the overall divine perfection of the universe amidst so much suffering- but that is the nature of this world of duality. We cannot speak of choosing a life, such as your sister's, the way we think of choosing in this one. On the spiritual level, where we are one with All and realize that each life is but a flash, compared to the enormity of who we are, such "choosing" takes on new meaning. We cannot know what karmic debts were being played out in her life, nor may we really ever know, the effect her life had on those around her. I think, for instance, that her experience and your love for her, is what makes you one of the most empathetic and compassionate people I know.

In the end, for me it is about believing in a divine plan and divine purpose for each of our lives, in spite of the apparent insanity and cruelty of life. I love you too.

And Monika- thank you so much for sharing your story. I will always have an image of you as a young girl deciding she could lift herself up by her own pigtail to have a happier life! Beautiful.