Light the lamp and fire mellow,
Cabin essence timely hello,
Welcomes the time for a change.
– Cabinessence (Brian Wilson & Van Dyke Parks)
Uncle Sam used to tempt to us to ‘be all that you can be’, assuming we enlisted in the Army. I’m sure that many a good soldier not only answered this challenge, but met this call to action. Lots of others, however, paid it as much mind as they did the Tidy Bowl man (read: Ty-D-Bol) hustling his product from the blue waters of his commode based rowboat. Nevertheless, a bit of logic would suggest that sometimes you have to separate the message from the messenger.
Why do only a fraction of us actually challenge ourselves to be all that we can be? A better question yet might be why we even aspire to be more than we are. Why aren’t we just content to embrace mediocrity? Why must we be egged on to face and overcome adversity, just to fall back on resting on our laurels?
Some might say that the answers to the above questions lie in our decidedly guilt-laden ‘western’ creed cum Judeo-Christian work ethic (breathe) chastising us to work on lest we be nothing… or worse than nothing (i.e. you’re going to hell). In the 12th century, admonition is found in the words of the poet Geoffrey Chaucer “Idle hands are the devil’s tools.” Some years later, in 18th century America, Benjamin Franklin chimed in as well “Trouble springs from idleness, and grievous toil from needless ease.” Clever guy that Franklin was; talk of the devil makes some people real nervous.Who among us hasn’t smirked at the adage ‘practice makes perfect’? We may nod, scoff, or lower our heads in submission. We may slink away in self-righteous depression and then mentally flog ourselves in passive aggression. Or, for a fleeting moment we may resolve in earnest to do better when ‘next time’ next comes around. Regardless, guilt for not ‘trying harder’ has already hit home, sometimes bringing with it humiliation, deprecation, degradation … and lots of other negative ideations, too!
Congratulations! If you have read this far, take heart in knowing that you have reached the point where a narrator booms “Don’t despair! Help is at hand!” From the depths of morosity a voice is heard. It starts in low, and then starts to grow… and as the Grinch discovered much to his chagrin, the sound isn’t sad! Why, this sound sounds merry! In fact, it is merry VERY! (pregnant pause) Ok, maybe not merry, but the point is we can change our way of thinking, or at least we can think for a change and stop banging our heads against the same walls we know all too well. If we can learn to push the envelope of our own mental and emotional confinements and think outside of the boxes we entrap ourselves in, then we can defy our own expectations and in fact, the expectations of others.
A good place to begin is by introspectively asking ourselves who we are looking to please. Is it ourselves or the ‘others’? Indeed, we need to ask if we define ourselves or if we are defined by ‘others’. We must question why it is incumbent on us to seek recognition and approval from ‘others’ and not ourselves. We must petition for the question to be raised concerning why we have seemingly been programmed to place ‘others’ before ourselves. We must forward the proposition that, at some point in our existence, we allowed ‘others’ to impress upon us the idea that we must repress our own needs and desires, suppress our emotional yearnings and oppress our thoughts with self-doubt and self-nullifying conviction.
Yes, despair not, for I am sure that even now, though many of you have yet to reach for pitchforks, shovels and lanterns, my words have nevertheless resonated deeply within you all. As I spread these seeds of non-conformity, I can almost hear the words frothing forth from the corners of your mouths as you demand to know who or what institutions have visited our psyches with such atrocities. Friends, I don’t have all the answers, but rest assured that I can tell you one thing of which I am certain … Donald Trump is a bell-end.
PS. Thanks for reading. How easy is it for you to think yourself out of a box? Is it a box or more like a carton? Are you a ‘birther’ or were you just born that way? Let me know.