On Shopping on Thanksgiving and PresenCE
In many ways, my 19-year-old is just like I was at her age: strong-willed, precocious, and opinionated! She’s a VERY active and passionate participant in conversations and actions around equality and rights across the board, including gender, sexual preference, race… you name it. She’s also knowledgeable and very much an advocate of the environment, living in an integrated, healthy way. Basically, for quite awhile now, she’s verbally been ready to “right all of the wrongs of the world”! Sometimes, her limitation is that she can even be oversensitive to such topics, to the point that she’ll shut down in judgment and righteousness in the middle of a conversation because she’s so ignited and passionate about what’s being discussed (vs. being a productive contribution to the discussion).
She has quite the spark and fire! My husband and I have always had great conversations around these topics in our household, striving always to share a perspective on the bigger picture; overall, it’s great to know that our children are both such advocates in support of many of the things we also support… save for some maturity, temperance, and acceptance with a view of the larger picture that will naturally develop over time and experience and further assist in their clarity and motivation in a productive way.
This introduction to my daughter is to share with you her overall temperament before I talk about the actual topic at hand. It’s because she’s such a blatantly verbal advocate of such things that this created such a perfect scenario for discussion… and it’s not just a great lesson for her, but for everyone else, as well.
Part of our evolution and spiritual development – sometimes, what’s seemingly the most challenging part – is getting past the habits that we’ve repeated so many times over the eons that we’re often blind to them within ourselves. This is the fine print of consciousness, remembrance, and spiritual development – it’s truly “walking the walk” – remembering the whole picture in every choice that we make; remembering the interconnectedness of everything we do, that we, expressed as ourselves, have a plethora of individual lessons that are intertwined with the lessons of many others and of our collective, larger consciousness, as well.
While she’s in college, she’s been working a retail job part-time, and has been an exemplary employee. Last year, she had to work on Christmas Eve, and she was really upset about it since we have a multitude of Christmas Eve traditions we’ve developed over the years as a family. Being newly conscious of the choice between work and fun/nurturing with her family, she was very vocal about having to work on a holiday… and became hyper-aware of those having to do the same. She’s been a great support to those she works with ever since, being part of the coverage when something personal has come up for them (and vice versa).
Last night, after our Thanksgiving dinner and gathering was mostly concluded, she excused herself to go to a friend’s house with her boyfriend because it was the friend’s birthday. Later on, she texted me that they’d decided to go and “try out the shopping.”
When she got home later in the evening, I half-jokingly mentioned to her my disappointment that after all of her campaigning against retail having to work on holidays because of corporate greed and cultural manipulation… that she would essentially participate as part of the issue. Even though I was purposefully gentle in the pronouncement (because I knew it would hit home with her), she looked at me as if I’d slapped her, and her face immediately got red. She defended, “Oh, come on… you’ve participated in Black Friday shopping before…” To which I replied, “Yes, BLACK FRIDAY… which has been ‘a thing’ for a long time. However, TODAY is Thanksgiving… a day that we take a break, enjoy each other, and have gratitude for what’s in our lives. It’s not a shopping day; it’s a together day. You’ve now fed into what you so passionately speak against just by going to the stores and participating… because those people manning the stores are working instead of enjoying the day, enjoying the moment and enjoying themselves and others around them in a breath of presence as part of the holiday.”
Her response to that, “I had no choice.” (Implying that it’s what her friend wanted to do.)
My response: “You ALWAYS have a choice.”
That ended the conversation; she got up and left the room. I wasn’t abrupt or condescending about it; I was simply pointing out to her what she so righteously and readily points out in others all the time. Her defensive reaction was definitely a trigger to her being aware of her own inauthenticity in the situation; I was guided to even gently bring it up as I did because this is a valuable lesson at this juncture in her life, at the brink of adulthood and being in conscious awareness of her own impact on the world – of the Universe – around her.
My daughter is an intuitive, intelligent, beautiful, caring, and passionate person… and 95% of the time, she’s there. Most of the time she gets it; that’s the point of me telling you all of this, because it’s an important interchange, an important experience that shows how easy it is to just be unconscious – even if just for one act, one moment – and follow others and what’s outside of the Self because it’s convenient… even for someone who is typically very conscious of what goes on around them and that interconnectedness. And how, in that one act, what the ego might rationalize as relatively unimportant (and convenient in the moment), when fed into by numerous others via the same “little” act, causes it to become part of a much bigger message that affects (and limits) the many vs. the few.
I’m not judging her; it was, in fact, her choice. However, I know that it’s not aligned with her authentic self and what she believes (the next time she mentions such injustices… I might very well remind her that she’s fed the fire herself! 😉 ). And, as with all interactions, it causes me to look in the mirror to see where this might be a reminder to be and stay fully conscious of my own actions, in all ways, at all times!
It’s a great reminder of how even the most conscious of us will ourselves to go “on automatic” or lock our consciousness – and sometimes our vigilance – in the closet temporarily often in the effort of a) the convenience of being exclusionary – “It’s not alright for me, but it’s OK for others, and/or b) being accepted by others, because of the individual belief that we need acceptance of others to be worthy, and that we have to have shared experiences to be accepted. It’s the same set of beliefs around the well-known adage of “misery loves company.”
We’ve all done it as part of this exclusionary existence; it’s been part of the lessons of separation and duality.
We’re not victim to others; we’re not victim to corporations… or institutions… or governments… it’s all our creation. Therefore, it’s also our choice to feed the frenzy… or not. It’s our choice to exist in a higher consciousness, aware of our interconnectivity… or not. And ultimately, it’s all OK… as long as we accept and take responsibility for creating that… ALL of it. We create it; we can change it. If we’re going to feed a creation… then we can’t claim to be victim to it; and we can’t be surprised when the reflection of whatever it brings to you later hits home to you in another, typically unexpected way.
The more conscious we are, the more in remembrance we exist, the more we realize that every single action we take reflects back to us; this is the former perception of, “what goes around comes around”… but instead of “being victim to” karma, it’s simply remembering that what we create in a Universe around us simply reflects what’s within us back to ourselves, and it will get louder and louder until we look at it straight on in the mirror.
As we embark on the end-of-year holiday season – regardless of individual practices and beliefs – let’s try something different than what’s typically “the norm”: Instead of being panicked about finances, panicked about having the “perfect gift” or an “expensive enough gift” to ensure someone else thinks highly of us, what if we purely focused on the gentle love and acceptance of ourselves? What if we blessed ourselves and others around us with the gift – worth more than anything in the physical – of being present with our Self, and with others, without expectations or judgment? This is what consciousness, awareness, and remembrance is all about. This is how we “walk the walk,” and do it differently… taking away the need to give away our power to others to gain “love” from outside of us because we don’t hold that within ourselves. If we do that – if we can remember the simple act of self love and authenticity – then everything around us will simultaneously change for the much, much better, as well.. and we’ll realize how powerful each one of us really is.