Find Your Own Truth

To be a person of truth, be swayed neither by approval nor disapproval. Work at not needing approval from anyone and you will be free to be who you really are. — Rebbe Nachman

It sounds simple. To be a person of truth, be who you really are. But what if, one day, you realize what you’re reflecting is other people’s truth, not your own?. First it was your parents truth; you were thrilled by the light of approval in their eyes. Well, of course! What are parents for, after all, but to teach us their own truth. We have to start somewhere.

But deep inside us is our own truth. Which may conflict with our parents truth. You are not your parents; you are growing into your own person. Only you can know the truth of who you are. And the only way you can know your truth is by examining your beliefs. Where did they come from? Do they have the ring of authenticity or are they things you were told and accepted without question?

If you find some shreds of old beliefs that don’t have the “ring of truth” do you dare to explore the possibility they are wrong? Are you willing to modify them into what does ring as true to you? And then are you willing to resist being influenced by other opinions?

Rebbe Nachman says “Work at not needing approval from anyone and you will be free to be who you really are.” The key word is “work” because finding our truth is not easy for most of us. We have to dig for it, defend it, even suffer for it.

But in the end, to know your truth is to know pure happiness.

How do I Offend Thee? Think on What I Say

(With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

How do I offend thee? Let me count the ways.
I offend thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach when I say good riddance to your
Shackles of propriety. You say I’m not allowed
To have beliefs that differ from your own. Even though such
Beliefs come from my heart and mind only to guide my own life,
Not to inhibit yours. I offend thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith. That America
Is the land of freedom to believe as one’s conscience allows,
Not as others say. I offend thee with the breath, smiles, tears,
Of all my life! And, if God chooses, I shall offend thee until death.

WHO Are YOU?

“And WHO are YOU?” the older man in the black tux and argyle socks said as he shook my hand. I was being greeted by the father of the groom after the wedding ceremony.
“My name is….” I said, not feeling quite as ridiculous as I might’ve if he hadn’t been wearing the purple and pink socks.

He raised his eyebrows at me, Groucho Marx style, and I moved on. I figured he wanted to disconcert people with the socks because he was a psychiatrist, and liked to do unexpected things to see how people would react, but I was disconcerted because I had no ready answer to his unexpected question.

The thing was I was nobody. I’d been invited to the wedding through a friend of the bride, whom I didn’t even know. My friend had arranged the invitation for me, including my pre-school daughters, believing they should get their first look at a true-to-life fairy-tale bride. I’d set aside my discomfort to appease her but had felt completely foreign in such exalted company. My friend had been disappointed when Terry and Tammy, instead of being excited, watched the elaborate ceremony with a detached air.

So – who was I? Should I have said “I’m a friend of a friend of the bride?” or “I have an invitation but actually I’m a party crasher because I don’t even know your son or new daughter-in-law?” It’s bewildering to be asked “WHO are YOU?” and trying to think of an answer.

Perhaps, I thought later, I should make an appointment with him. Tell him he got me to thinking “WHO am I” as if I’d never thought to ask it before, and that I’d been searching for an answer ever since. I was lost. I didn’t know who I was. Wasn’t that what psychiatrists were for, to help us discover who we are? But psychiatrists cost money, and besides I kept seeing those wild argyle socks with the expensive black tux. How could I trust him?

So I decided to find myself, myself. Still looking.

Women Who Stand by Their Men

My daughter said my list of the things I hate was too short. Since I find I’m still steaming, here’s another one that just boiled over.

I hate women who stand by their men. Who stoically pose on some public platform and share his shame. Pretending to believe his apology when everyone knows he’d still be doing what it often is, if he’d never been found out. He’s just sorry he got caught.

Maybe with some wives it’s self-preservation, so they can maintain the lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed. Now take Kobe Bryant’s wife (remember the nineteen-year-old maid eight years ago who claimed it wasn’t consensual, in other words that it was rape?—which he denied but later admitted to what he called a consensual act?).

Well, there you have it. Eight years later, hmmmm. I wonder what the eight years did to her self-esteem. Every time she walked down the street, somebody pointing and saying “There’s the woman who stood by her man…..” while laughing hysterically.

So, naturally, the next thing I hate is that song Tammy Wynette likes to sing “Stand by Your Man”. What drivel!

“Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman” So? We knew that from the day Eve was tempted by the snake. And of course Adam told God it was all Eve’s fault. He was one of those kinds of men.

Eve was not only the first woman, she was also the first feminist. She passed down those good genes not only to any woman with self-respect but also to some good men who respect their wives.

For All the Women Who Feel Trodden On

If a woman makes herself a worm she must not complain when she is trodden on. — Immanuel Kant, German Philosopher 

Of course I changed the gender. Kant may have been one of the foremost thinkers of the Enlightenment but since he spoke during the Eighteenth Century I’m not sure he meant to include women.

As for myself, I gave up worm-hood a number of years ago. I started working on it when I realized one day that, in order to be walked on, I had to acquiesce by lying down. If you’re standing tall, they have to knock you down first (so you should also learn self-defense).

After lying prone for so many years (I exaggerate, of course) I found it took awhile to get back up. But I finally made it because I had to be a role model for my daughters and granddaughters, and even for my son and grandsons, because I wanted them to respect me and thus, to respect women.

So I was delighted recently by my granddaughter Emily’s reaction after her motorcycle accident (which of course I was not delighted about as she had a broken leg). After Emily’s surgery I asked Cathy how she was doing and her Mom replied “She’s really p-ssed!”  “That’s my girl!” I said. “When life hands you a lemon, don’t make lemonade, spit it out!”

Now that may not be the way a grandmother should respond but I had asked the question solicitously as I was concerned about Emily’s low spirits. So I was pleased to hear that, instead of moping, she was mad. Emily definitely does not embrace worm-hood. Although in this instance she may have come close. She had just gotten her motorcycle operating license and was feeling pressured, by the line of cars waiting behind her, to pull out into heavy traffic. Thus she hugged the curb too closely and hit it. (You’re learning, Emily, but next time let’em wait).

I agree with Kant that I can’t complain about my days of worm-hood, especially since it was my own self who let the trodders trod on me. But no more! So this is for all the women out there who feel trodden on. It’s time to stand upright! Shock the heck out of the trodders. They will really flip!