The Lie of our Birth
Originally published at Letyourbodytalk
I am a baby, growing within the almost weightless, fluid environs of the amniotic sac in my mother’s womb. It is the world I know as a foetus developing, where there are no words to express what I am except for a symbiotic communication with the woman who carries me for nine months before giving birth to her screaming bundle of joy.
On Planet Earth, nine months of gestation are but a tiny fraction of the number of years I am granted life, yet the consequences of my birth echo far and deep. I know many parents who imagine that bringing a child into the world is a gift. For whom, I wonder? From the moment of my birth, I am moulded into the collective belief that my parents love me unconditionally, when the only choice I have is to be subject to their conditioning. I can scream and cry for a few months, resist for several years perhaps, but thereafter I must be redeemed by surrendering to their countless schedules and routines for every possible activity a child is capable of enacting; eating, sleeping, washing, playing, schooling, reading, visiting, crafting, and so on and so on, galloping forth to a life set by the clock.
And all the while, my parents reiterate how much they love me, unconditionally!
For a parent, a child is a wonder, an innocent without words and without reason, in whose gaze she feels an open acceptance which she does not receive from any other person. And in this gaze, which passes between them and no one else, lies a future of expectation that can never be fulfilled. In this moment, reality leaves the scene, to be replaced by a dream that will one day come crashing in.
As a child, I cannot not understand the complexity of adult emotions and behaviours, so wherein lies the intent of my guilt and confusion, when the smallest deviance or innocent mistake meets the sternest look of displeasure and angry line of the mouth. For what child doesn’t feel responsible when her parents fight, or when her father suddenly dies in his sleep and her grief-stricken mother is left alone?
Expectations are heavy, and disappointments many. At school, I am expected to study hard, become the cream of my profession and earn a good wage. At home, I am expected to be compliant, and bow to the basest, most archaic values of tradition. Because in my culture, children are conditioned to respect their elders, which simply means, “Do as I say, there is no need to think for yourself.”
Is it any wonder the modern generation exhibit a kind of schizophrenia, nervously chasing unreal dreams in their quest for global dominion?
The lie of our birth is that love is never unconditional. Not between parents and children, nor spouses and siblings, nor partners and friends. When a parent buries her head in the dust, condones one sibling against another, her silence speaks louder than her screams, as she closes her eyes with indifference to her responsibility for the children she has brought into the world.
No one told me as a child, the truth about the human Ego’s desire to procreate, its subconscious and ingrained motivation to leave a legacy of its genetic code. In the mortal human-animal’s version of immortality, which rules all life to a greater degree than we care to admit, unconditional love does not exist. In fact, love may not arrive on the scene at all.
The lie of our birth is that the gift of life is far from unconditional. Though it is expressed and understood without ambiguity in my culture, there is often an unspoken expectation that children will take care of their parents in old age and illness. Not so much, “I will love you unconditionally,” but more, “I will condition you, my child, to love me unconditionally.” That’s the deal!
Later, I discovered that true learning and wisdom comes from undoing my past conditioning, and somehow understanding that my parents did the best they could. What a waste of life, I thought, from both sides of the divide. Though how else can I reintegrate mythical expectations and still maintain a semblance of the parent-child relation? I have been taught that a lasting peace with my parents lies in acceptance; acceptance of what is, and acceptance of what is not. Surrendering to this practice gives me a reality to embody kindness and compassion, and honour those who gave me life.
The lie of our birth, however, is to blindly accept that blood is thicker than being human, to absorb genetic and familial narratives as the truth, without question. Why should I not aim my values and standards towards the whole of humanity, which each generation strives to evolve, beyond the base of my default conditioning? For to exchange loneliness for familial security is a choice, not a condition.
In society’s collective delusion, how egotistical that a parent is valued above all other adults, that a child is valued above all other children? From birth, I am ingrained into the hierarchy of how to value my fellow humans. Family first, always family first! The lie of our birth leads to seeing those who are different as dangerous, leads to nationalism and discrimination, leads to laws we determine must “protect us from the enemy!”
When will I look in the mirror and see that the real enemy is within, the one whose negligible genetic variation from the one whose hand I will not shake? The Devil and the Light is me, and at the border of truth and fiction lies the tenuousness of my relationship to everyone.