Pay attention to that man behind the curtain!


I’ve chosen a light-hearted (mis-)quote for the title of this blog entry dealing with a somewhat deeper topic. Just like Toto taking the time to pull back a curtain to reveal the true nature of the scary-looking Wizard, there is likely an opportunity (or two, or three) for you to reveal who or what is pulling the strings of the events taking place in your life.

The value you have for things

You likely have a number of ideas about life, and things that you know to be true. You cherish a number of these things, because they have great value.

Here are a couple topics, with descriptions for you to review and decide what you value most or feel is most true.

For me, love is…

  • Option A
    • Giving and receiving hugs when I’m feeling sad, happy, frustrated or excited.
    • Kind words and gentle phrases
    • Sharing laughter and smiles
  • Option B
    • Pools of chemicals, more dangerous than sewage, in a child’s back yard
    • Human rights being ignored, forcing non-white citizens into labour
    • Killing fish in rivers so that nearby communities don’t have enough food

For me, a great way to start the day is…

  • Option A
    • Sunshine peeking through my window, telling my body it’s time to wake up
    • Enjoying a simple but nutritious breakfast to fuel me for the day
    • Practicing a routine of stretches, yoga or meditation to bring me into focus
  • Option B
    • Killing the bee population, reducing the number of beneficial pollinating insects in our world
    • Paying insufficient wages to workers, keeping poor families stuck in their situations
    • Consuming pesticides, continuously hurting my body and making me feel sick

Survey says…

I’m sure that in both my scenarios above, option A seems like the choice you would make every day. Why would you ever choose option B? Now, this may surprise you to learn that if you aren’t paying attention to what you want, to what your heart is compelling you to do, the Man Behind the Curtain has probably pulled strings, flipped switches and cranked knobs to make you choose option B. Maybe even multiple times. Over and over again throughout your life.

Unless you take the time to peek behind the curtain in your life, you may be creating hurtful ripples throughout the community around you. I can’t speak for you, but I know that I want to make a better impact on the world.

Who is the Man Behind the Curtain?

Let’s go backwards in time to when you knew nothing about planet Earth.  You were a new visitor on this planet and needed to learn everything about it so that you could live amongst the natives.  Of course, I’m referring to when you were a new-born, innocent and ready to explore this new life.

Because the world was new to you, you were a sponge, listening, watching, touching, tasting, smelling, ready to learn anything and everything.  Because you didn’t know the rules of this planet, you observed all the tall people — all those on this planet who seemed to know what was going on — to learn what’s what.

So, you learned a great number of things, like: stovetops are hot, knives are sharp.

You even learned what’s good and what’s bad: pinching a classmate is bad, sharing your toys is good.

You also heard messages telling you “this is how you can be happy.”  I’ll come back to this point.

All of these messages were absorbed into your “Earth Customs Database” to make up all the stuff that today you “just know.”

Does this sound familiar?  If you’ve read all my blog posts until now, you may notice that I’ve touched upon a similar concept before. I’ve give you a minute to read one of my earlier blog posts

Did you see it?  In my previous blog post, I talked about how an “evil” person was probably surrounded by bad situations in his childhood, and thus the only way he knew how to react to the world around him was with more “evil”. Today, I’ve talked about how you’ve accumulated a huge database of “knowledge” about Earth and are using that information to live your life. (That’s why I prefer not to label people as “good” or “bad”.)

So, the Man Behind the Curtain is the accumulation of information you’ve gathered in your life and the experience from which you draw your “knowledge” to make future decisions.

So, what did you learn?

Well, the Wizard has certainly taught you a large number of things.  Some things are helpful, and others may need to be re-examined. Some things you learned explicitly, and others more subtly.

Did you scrape your knee once, and your dad gave you a cookie to stop your crying? So, you learned that sad + cookie² = happy, and as an adult now, you may have a hard time putting that bag of sweets away.

Did your mom wince or gasp as you were running by a pool?  This could have been a signal that water is scary, and today you won’t even go near a body of water.

Did you notice one day, as you and your granny were walking down the street, that the two of you crossed to the other side when she saw an Aboriginal man was walking in the opposite direction? Well, that must mean that non-white people are scary, and today you may have subtle racism lurking in the background.

You probably picked up many, many cues like this from adults in your life, which influence your behaviour today. You even gained information from society at large without even noticing.  Here are a few last examples.

Everybody knows that you need to drink 8 glasses of water per day. It’s just a fact: you need to hydrate yourself to be healthy.

  • Okay, well, actually… we are constantly bombarded by advertising from sport-drink and bottled water companies who want us to buy their products. They repeat these messages so often that you’ve learned that you shouldn’t trust your own body’s thirst signals, and drink as much Gatorade or Evian as you can.  There was never any actual scientific evidence to suggest we need 8 glasses of water per day.

Sticking with the topic of beverages: of course, orange juice is the beverage of choice for breakfast, right?  When you think of breakfast, you think of orange juice.

  • Again, this was a huge marketing ploy in the 1920s boasting the health benefits of orange juice and associating it with the morning meal.  This tradition is so pervasive (this drink is served every morning at restaurants, hotels, business meetings) that we practically have a knee-jerk desire to have orange juice in the morning.

These examples are a bit simplified, but they show how pervasively “they” try to switch out your opinion for theirs, how “their” opinions become so deeply rooted in the way you see the world. You’ve heard over and over again the message that something “out there”, this “thing” that only “they” can provide, is just what you need to make you fulfilled and happy. Heck, even the United States’ motto is “the pursuit of happiness”, as though happiness is something you need to chase in order to obtain. So few people learn that they can find happiness inside themselves, by being in touch with their heart.

The truth is, you don’t need to seek out any object or circumstance to fill yourself with love.

Back to option B

Now I’ll circle back to the items I labeled as “option B” above. The thing about this Wonderful Wizard is that he doesn’t tell you why he’s trying to manipulate your emotions and opinions, or what else he may be hiding behind the good time he’s trying to sell.

I’ll tell the truth now and say that this blog post has a bit of an eco-political motivation behind it. However, I do want to show the link between your body-mind-spirit connection and the planet around you.

Okay, so here’s the scoop. Option B in those first scenarios above sounds awful, right? Here is what the Wizard is not telling you:

  • In the “love is…” scenario:
    • Option B describes the devastating effects of gold rings and diamonds on our planet and society. Remember that your gold wedding band didn’t come out of the earth as a perfect ring fitting your finger. When gold is mined, it is encased in other rocks and minerals. The workers, usually poor families in South Africa, need to use cyanide and other dangerous chemicals to separate the gold from the other minerals.
    • Cyanide is highly poisonous, exposing the miners to high levels of toxicity, and is often left to pool on the soil, where children will one day play in it the way other children play in rain puddles.
    • Diamonds are extracted using similar harmful procedures.
    • In developed countries, there is so much marketing — especially targeting women — to convince you that showing true love and making someone feel special means to buy these glittery objects to adorn their finger.
    • When you purchase most commercial gold and diamonds, you are supporting this polluting industry. Knowing this, how do you show someone you love them? Option A or B?
  • In the “way to start your day” scenario:
    • Option B describes the environmental and social fall-out of a typical cup of coffee.
    • The coffee plants are sprayed with so many pesticides and herbicides that the farmers inhale substantial amounts, making them sick.  They receive little pay and are unable to get out of their situation.
    • The chemicals used on the crops also end up killing the bee population.  You may know that bees are critical to our food chain because they pollinate flowers.  If we kill the bees, we doom the human species. Don’t forget that when you drink this coffee, you drink these harmful “additives” too.
    • When you buy non-organic and non-fair-trade coffee, you say “yes” to this terrible cycle. Option A sounds like a much better way to start the day to me.

Now, I’ve taken examples that have shock value, and my intent is to show you that many other people’s opinions (transmitted through advertising, traditions, parenting) have persuaded you that you want that cup of coffee in the morning or demand that your fiancé buy you that ring, no matter what happened in the background to get them to you.

If you take the time to get in touch with yourself, to tune out the voices outside and listen to the one that’s important — yours — you will surely find what’s important to you.  You will be less likely to buy into (figuratively with your emotions, and literally with money) the crap that others around you are selling.

Getting in touch with yourself

This blog post is getting long, so I’ll briefly mention that one of the best ways to get in touch with yourself is to stop. Stop, and take a moment to listen to the little voice in your heart (not that loud voice that tells you you need to do the dishes, write an email, catch that last Pokémon). The little voice gets louder the more you listen; it’ll tell you where to go next.

Look up books on mindfulness at your local library to help you with this. Books about mindfulness tend to take out the spirituality from the practice, but they are a good place to start if you’ve never practiced mindfulness before.

I know that as I continue to heal myself, peeking behind the curtain to find the true nature of me, I help heal the rest of the planet. Most parents say they want the best for their children.  (I have no children, so I say this about my niece and nephew instead.) I think that a planet on which you’ve healed yourself, a planet that’s clean and enjoyable for all, is the very best thing you can give your child.

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One thought on “Pay attention to that man behind the curtain!

  • Jean D Post author

    I’m using the comment section of this blog entry to add some additional thoughts, because I wanted to keep the text above focused on the topic at hand and make sure it didn’t get too long.

    Here I present additional examples of situations or items that many people just “love”, or “know” are right just the way they are, or have firm opinions about. Some are controversial, some neutral, but you can take the chance to think about where picked up your opinions about these items:

    • Well-manicured front lawns
    • Well-manicured finger nails
    • Bacon
    • Scotland’s right to govern its territory
    • Palestine’s right to govern its territory
    • Abortion
    • Boys’ toys vs girls’ toys
    • Your ideal body weight
    • Your contribution to the world