Conditioned or New?

new babyI watch. My newest granddaughter is now 3 ½ months old. She is learning what it means to be in a body, to interact socially, and gradually to meet her parents’ and culture’s expectations.

I watch. I notice that this little one, so new to her body, is learning by exploring. She is alert; she is curious.  She wakes up and makes sounds, as if to see what is possible. How much variety can her little vocal chords produce? What are her little legs and arms capable of? I notice that she seems to do these things for the sheer delight of doing them.

I know. She is being shaped by those around her. She will grow to know the pressure of her peers. She will begin to walk and make the sounds of those around her. She will begin to say and do what those around her are doing. She will do this to be socially acceptable. How much of her own uniqueness will she retain? How much will she sacrifice to be liked? Time will tell as she dances between the essence of her being and the impositions of her conditioning.

I wonder. When do we start shaping ourselves into preconceived ideals?  When do we begin to move like others instead of exploring movement itself? When do we begin to make the sounds of others instead of exploring sound itself? When do we start trading the hunger in our souls for something of less value? When does our need to be praised, to be successful, to be secure, or to be loved become something more worthy than our own freedom?

I wonder. What if we stopped moving to the steady beat of our conditioning?  What if we traded goals for exploration?  What if we took our delight in the freshness of curiosity and discovery?  What if we moved for the sheer joy of it?

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