Archive for January, 2013

Just Another Version of You

Thursday, January 24th, 2013


If you were to create a bumper sticker that summed up your feelings on life, what would it say? 

Norman Lear, the creator of shows like All in the Family, recently gave a series of interviews about his life in celebration of his ninetieth birthday and when asked what his bumper sticker would be, he said, “Just another version of you.”

            “Just another version of you, and that’s what I think,” Lear said, “We all are versions of each other because we have to come to the understanding that we are one.”

            I think I get why we have to come to that understanding, to diminish hatred, discrimination and cruelty towards others, but I struggle seeing how we come to the understanding that we are one.  I don’t think shouting it from a pulpit or supporting legislation is going to do it.  I guess my answer always comes back to my own behavior.  That the best thing any of us can do is to be our truest selves.  That being our truest self gives us our best shot at a true experience of life.

            To not be hidden, unkindly shy, or disturbed, but unhidden and willing to be a child of God in the fullness of dignity, with no willingness to sacrifice it for social nicety.  I don’t think any of us should underestimate the affect being our truest self has on those around us.

            Emerson said, “We have a great deal more kindness then is ever spoken.”

            It reminds me of a character like Archie Bunker, the central character in All in the Family, who is bigoted and judgmental, and symbolic of an archaic thinking.  Lear based Archie Bunker on his own father, who yes, even referred to Lear as “Meathead.” 

            Yet, the viewer falls in love with Archie because that “kindness” can slip out and earn the heart.  And for Archie, like it or not, that’s his path- to learn that we are all one, that we are all just different versions of each other.

Emerson also said, “Every man alone is sincere, at the entrance of a second person, hypocrisy begins.”

            To be one, we must give ourselves permission to be ourselves.  We must be willing to be vulnerable for we are vulnerable.  We are human beings, sensitive, often unsure and distrusting, and even judgmental. 

We must also understand that we are often different versions of our own self.  I’ve been a buffoon, a hero, a snake and an oaf.  But I’m always willing to be better and here is where the joy of relationships comes in.  When I feel like I am lacking a quality I want to embody in my life, a friend comes forward who seems to embody that quality in just the way I need it.  This is the great blessing of having so many other versions of us out in the world…it is like we return ourselves to ourselves through our most magnificent relationships.



Friday, January 11th, 2013



In Lewis Carrol’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland we read:


        “There were doors all around the hall, but they were all locked, and when Alice had been all the way down one side and up the other, trying every door, she walked sadly down the middle, wondering how she was ever to get out again.”

        Most people when using Alice as analogy for life go straight to the rabbit hole—that passageway into another dimension, into a wacky world of mad hatters, odd creatures, tricksters, and contradictory truths.  I don’t know how you feel, but I think I fell through the rabbit hole a long time ago.

        Most of us realize we are in Wonderland- we don’t see the world in black and white, we aren’t trying to escape it, we want to engage in it more deeply.  This is why I think Alice in the hallway of locked doors is such a powerful metaphor.

        The locked doors are the doors that have already been passed through.  To go deeper we must go our own way.

        Like Campbell used to say about the knights of the round table when they went off for an adventure- each knight would seek to enter the forest at places that were most dark and where no one had entered before.

        Creating our own way seems to be an essential part of living life’s adventure authentically.  Do you relate to this?  Did you marry someone when everyone disapproved?  Did you take a job you weren’t “supposed” to? 

        When it comes to living a truly whole, worthwhile and unique life our role is not to bang down the locked doors, it is to create a space in which we can find an opening that hasn’t been seen before.  We must create our own key and make our way.

        This is what Alice finds. 

        “Suddenly she came upon a little three-legged table, all made of solid glass; there was nothing on it but a tiny golden key, and Alice’s first idea was that this might belong to one of the doors of the hall; but alas! either the locks were too large, or the key was too small, but at any rate it would not open any of them. However, on the second time round, she came upon a low curtain she had not noticed before, and behind it was a little door about fifteen inches high; she tried the little golden key in the lock, and to her great delight it fitted!”

        She looks down and finds the smallest of opening and her heart tells her “yes,” that’s my opening, but her head reminds her- you can’t fit through this opening- your body and your self-image are too big.

        Our job in life is not to knock down doors, it is to seek those openings however small they seem and move towards and through them.  It may be an opportunity in a relationship to say how we really feel, it may be a chance to say yes to being of service, it may be a book we are called to read, or a question to ask.

        They are not big openings, they are slight and we might initially think our body and self-image are too huge to risk trying to fit into them, but think again.

        When we move with faith the universe has a way of supporting us.  This is what happens for Alice.  A little bottle appears that says, “Drink me.”   Alice drinks it and becomes who she needs to be to fit through the door.

        All that being said it is still hard not to want to get back up to the edge of the cliff we just jumped from.  “Boy, that sure was a long way down.”  Before we know it, we are back on the precipice again.  This is what happens to Alice, she gets to the tiny door small as can be and realizes, she forgot the key.

        ” ‘Come, there’s no use in crying like that!’ said Alice to herself, rather sharply, ‘I advise you to leave off this minute!’ She generally gave herself very good advice, (though she very seldom followed it,) and sometimes she scolded herself so severely as to bring tears into her eyes, and once she remembered trying to box her own ears for having cheated herself in a game of croquet she was playing against herself, for this curious child was very fond of pretending to be two people. ‘But it’s no use now,’ thought poor Alice, ‘to pretend to be two people! Why, there’s hardly enough of me left to make one respectable person!’

        Soon her eye fell on a little glass box that was lying under the table: she opened it, and found in it a very small cake, on which the words “Eat Me” were beautifully marked in currants.

        ‘Well, I’ll eat it,’ said Alice, ‘and if it makes me grow larger, I can reach the key; and if it makes me grow smaller, I can creep under the door; so either way I’ll get into the garden, and I don’t care which happens!’”

        At first the idea that we are supported by the universe sounds like magical thinking but as you think about the supportive people you’ve called forth, the people brought before you to support- the opportunities and serendipitous moments eventually you come to realize that the supernatural support you seem to be receiving is maybe not so supernatural after all.  It is scientific.  Moving towards those openings with trust and faith naturally calls forth the momentum and support to get through.  I’m not saying there is no risk. I’m not saying failure is not a possibility. I’m saying create a space in your consciousness where trust and faith can work unencumbered and you’ll be amazed at what can come forth for you.  Like Alice, you may not know exactly how it will look like, but you trust that it will work.)

        “Alice came to a fork in the road. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked.
‘Where do you want to go?’ responded the Cheshire Cat.
‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered.  ‘Then,’ said the Cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.’”

     This passage has a double meaning.  If you don’t know where you are going, any way you take will lead you to nowhere.  Yet, if you know where you’re going, just not how to get there, step through the openings presented to you and be delivered.