There was a girl, let’s call her Everygirl, who thought that she wasn’t OK. She thought she was missing something. She felt lonely, scared, inadequate. She believed what she thought about who she was. She thought that there was something wrong with her. She thought that she had to avoid the things that were scaring her, hide herself behind make up and likes. She tried to get control of this life through food or approval or love or friends or exercise or good marks. She tried to blank out her mind with physical pain.
There was a boy, let’s call him Everyboy, who thought that he wasn’t OK. He thought he was missing something. He felt lonely, scared, inadequate. He thought these feelings he had weren’t masculine or normal and had to be resisted and hidden. He thought life was all on his shoulders and that he had to hoard knowledge and take control so that the world would be less frightening. He withdrew into himself, hiding anyway in books or games. Or he battled it out in the playground or sports field, guns blazing, armour locked in place, fists clenched.
As Everygirl and Everyboy turned into adults they kept on and on trying to feel better, more secure, less wrong. All the places they looked to for solace told them that they were not normal, not right. They were told they should be controlling their mind, thinking good thoughts, that it is not OK to experience certain emotions. They were told to get their life sorted, to get their head fixed.
Everygirl and Everyboy felt worse and worse. They felt as though their lives were falling apart. Everything looked impossible. Why did everyone else seem to have it all together? They dragged themselves through the rest of their days feeling inadequate, isolated, distant.
Is this what we want for Everygirl and Everyboy?
Is that what we want from this story, from any story? Surely there’s got to be something else?
How about we make something different in this short eternal tale. How about at some stage – maybe even right from their time in the womb, or when they are babies or toddlers, or when they start school, or when they are teenagers, or playing sports, or staring their first job, or when they do a course with work, or when they go out with friends – Everygirl and Everyboy are told the truth?
This telling of the truth is no ordinary telling. This is a telling that is so connected, loving, authentic, joyful that it reaches deep inside Everygirl and Everyboy, beneath the layers of pain, frustration, disappointment, and holds what they have always known up to the light.
And in that telling and reaching and illumination everything changes.
The reality of this fearful inadequate self in this dangerous insecure world is seen for what it is. An illusion created from within, made of nothing. So fragile and inconsequential it collapses, disappears at the gentlest question.
The battle, the hiding, the striving, the avoiding, the resisting, the fighting, the overcoming are now bewildering. What was there ever to hide from or resist?
Reality has shifted. An entirely new life emerges from an entirely new self, a self that becomes less of itself every day as limits that never existed give way to possibility, openness, potential. Everygirl and Everyboy realise they are nothing and they are the entire world.
And they go about their lives with a transformed perspective, as awareness, as completeness. Those moments when they feel heart breaking sadness or desperate insecurity are part of being alive. Those moments of utter joy and immense peace are there for the coming and going. There is nothing to close off from. Nothing to cling to. They can experience it all. Whatever it is, they welcome it.
They look around at their life. They know that somehow this noticing and appreciation is emerging through them, something is using them to experience this wealth of beauty and intricate detail. A breathtaking world of sights, sounds, smells and textures brought alive simply because Everygirl and Everyboy are alive. Their life is a celebration of the miracles that exist solely because they exist.
They notice the ideas that come to them from out of the blue. The words that appear on the page. The perfect trajectory of a ball off their racket. The melodies that emerge. The colours that take shape on the canvas. Their entire selves relax in the knowledge that this is always there for them, there is nothing to control or coerce or manipulate. It is there. Simple, easy, obvious and utterly mind-blowing.
And they say it quietly.
Just two basic words. Words that are thrown out mindlessly, automatically at every cash register or muttered to every hand holding open a door.
Yet now these two words have the depth of the oceans, the grace and magnitude of the highest skies, the stampeding urgency of a wildebeest migration, the transparent, unguarded, heart-felt honesty of a baby’s gaze.
Quietly they say it.