Life’s beginning can set the standard
At life’s beginning, we’re conscious, aware, intelligent, strongly rational and practical, but concealed inside a tiny, helpless, speechless body. According to some researchers (i.e., Dr. Lisa Miller, The Spiritual Child, 2015, St. Martin’s Press) we’re also spiritually aware, and comforted within the oneness of the universe, as experienced with mother in the womb.
Anecdotal evidence suggests babies are telepathic as well. If so, they must be mightily confused, with no telepathy to be felt in their new world. Absorbing that shock could cause the truly irascible child, who could be desperately mourning the loss of its lifelong (that pitifully brief nine months) harmony. In addition, the outer world must really seem nuts, especially if infants truly do pick up on our emotions and internal dialogues. Certainly people experience reactive and irrational emotions, and behave in fearful, angry and intolerant ways. We see it around ourselves every day.
Infants constantly think and make decisions about themselves and how they’ll respond to events, people, and objects in their environment. Their single-minded focus is directed intently on everything they encounter, including the people in their lives.
Experiences mount up, hundreds every day. Careless, thoughtless, or cruel actions from caretakers, especially when provoked by baby’s noisy cries for help, must overwhelm the baby’s limited adaptive resources.
Each event brings its own small or large sting. I suppose either we absorb that energy ourselves or pass it along; probably both. The part we absorb would lodge in our flesh, reprogramming our brain, pinching off a little bit of our focus, our attention and our energy, to store the pain. We do grow used to it, but its burden accumulates throughout a lifetime.
In infants, the emotional fallout from life’s unpleasant interactions seems to begin with insecurity and timidity, probably resulting from our innocence and the experience of powerlessness. At first, children accept as truth whatever others tell them, but before long they realize others may be lying to them, and don’t necessarily care about their welfare. We experience disappointments and grievances.
As life snips away at us, our focus on that sense of oneness and spiritual awareness diminishes, and soon we have no time for it.
We’re busy defining ourselves amongst the elements of our environment. The innocent, accepting, and likable infant who’s shaped by its encounters, may barricade away memories of painful events. Some children develop guilt for any number of reasons: lack of real communication or support, variable emotional interaction, frustration, fears or worries. Everything’s so tenuous, so new, such children might feel helpless and alone. Some withdraw, some act out with anger, rebellion or resentment.
Most people just adapt. Responses become automatic life-long habits, to be acted out whenever painful memory nodes in our brain’s network get triggered.
The upshot of adaptation is we lose touch with the immediacy of life’s actual experience, the now. Through the years our focus turns away from the wonderfulness of life’s adventures and the delight of enjoying them. Oneness fades away gradually through childhood and school years, and we end up forgetting we ever felt it. We develop minds packed with meaningless activity, an emotionally driven web of plans and schemes, memories, regrets, and fears, grudges, disappointments.
What a sad finale to such a joyous beginning. Society could be a functioning whole, just as the planet is an integrated network of disparate parts. A mutually and sympathetic human society is an ideal to be aimed for. Acknowledging the individuality of our children and treating them respectfully and honorably might be a good start.
Susan Stornetta is a retired archaeologist and a long-time Comstock resident.