Monday, August 15, 2011
In the city you can literally get lost in a crowd. It’s rare to see perfect strangers acknowledging each other. If you’ve ever eavesdropped on other people’s conversations you can easily validate the fact that people constantly repeat the same complaints and tell each other the same stories. If we don’t talk about our aches and pains; our doctor visits and hospital horror stories; we consistently share details about feuds or conflicts in the work place or at home. We like to gossip and most of all we cultivate drama. It’s all about reactions. I often wonder if that’s the way humans are or if it’s just what we’ve become through modern culture?
When our fifteen year old beagle, Lucky died last year I quickly noticed how empty my life felt. I missed the way she greeted me every morning and the way she gave presence to every thing I did and said. She consistently interacted with everyone with so much personal attention. It was through this loss that I became aware of what I often took for granted. She showed me how incredibly crucial “affection” was to my life.
We often talk about Shamanism by focusing on the concepts of cosmology and nature. We frequently discuss the use of drums (sound), dreaming and trance work to manifest phenomenon, spirit communication and healing. But rarely do we mention the long term impact these experiences have on our daily living and on us, as people. Last Thursday, SO came by for the afternoon. She had just returned from her two weeks vacation and hoped to share some of her story. It was wonderful to be in her presence because everything she did and said was filled with so much affection. She was contagious with playfulness and we giggled most of the day.
In the last two decades I’ve had the pleasure of meeting quite a few Medicine People, Shamans and Sorcerers. With each one it was always easy to tease and to giggle. No matter the suffering in their lives they always found a way to laugh about it and to laugh about themselves. Humour seemed to be a common characteristic. JZ who just recently showed up at our home mentioned how intimidated he felt before even arriving. He expected us to be “more serious and more sacred” he said -- as if saying “f….” every now and again, and taking the opportunity to poke fun at everyone and everything implied that we weren’t respectful and serious about our path and purpose. He finally relaxed once he noticed we were people like everyone else.
“The thing is though we aren’t people like everyone else,” confessed KT, my daughter when she told JZ that she had no trouble asking point blank the men in her life about sexually transmitting disease or personal sexual expectations. KT had us rolling on the ground with laughter as she repeated some of her conversations.
“We’re more open, more blunt and more daring than most,” she said recalling some of her actions and those of others around her, “but most all we’re not ashamed of our experience and of exploring reality with others.”
Affection is not only about physical touch. It’s about how we consider the world around us. It’s about presence and it’s about caring. If we explore shamanic principles and how they cater to the idea of “caring for Creation” it’s not surprising that shamanic people are naturally more affectionate than Westerners. Lots of KT’s friends find it strange that in our home we openly hug each other and not only as a matter of greeting one another. We convey affection through glances, words, playfulness, gifts and touch. Each day is filled with a moment where we tell one another how important we are to each other.
I think it’s important to cultivate affection in our lives. It’s important to communicate how we feel about each other. If more people practiced the art of affection I believe we could actually change the world and stop talking about coming into an age of awareness and actually manifest it. In fact, affection can be healing and empowering. I remember when my children were in elementary school. They would often tell me how "incredible it felt to have a teacher call out their name in praise." CT once said: "I never knew my name could make me feel so wonderful." Children know the power of affection and I find it incredibly sad how we slowly take this knowledge away from them as they grow up.
Whether it's through a phone call, a smile, or a touch affection somehow solves all of our problems. It takes being open to it and being generous with it. Don't be shy to show affection to the people around you. This month, I invite everyone to explore affection if not for a moment each day.