Recently I was enjoying the company of an old
a thirty year veteran
who's a veritable embodiment of
and possibility, and a rare pleasure to hang out with. One of his many
attractive qualities is his ability to give people all the space in
No matter how they are, no matter who they're being, he has the space
for it all, without judgement. I've
him in situations when people are outright nasty with him. Yet his
never wavers from its baseline generosity. He never takes it
personally. That's not some kind of special gift he's
endowed with: it's
who he creates himself to
He really has the space for people to be the way they are and the way
they aren't. He truly
people. And his is not a meek
It's a powerful
That's not what got my attention. I already knew that about him. What
got my attention was him saying "I really
He speaks the truth. I believe him.".
He's the kind of
with and be dead serious with at the same time. So I said to him "Whoa!
Hold on there, Big Guy: if you really
then whatever you do, please please don't believe him.
Rather discover it for yourself.".
He was silent for a moment. Then he smiled, his usual generous not
taking it personally smile, and said "Thanks for reminding
me.". I replied "You're welcome.".
Arguably the real value in what
says, isn't that it's the truth (and it may be the truth).
Rather it's that should you choose to, you can engage with it and
discover it for yourself. When you believe it, it's a lie - even if
it's a valuable lie. It's discovering it for yourself which renders it
profound and powerful. That's when it's real for you.
That's when it comes
for you (I prefer saying it that way, rather than saying "That's when
it becomes the truth for you", given that settling for the finality of
"the truth" puts a damper, a kibosh on the
wonder of any further, newer discovery).
The thing I had to get past, in order to discover it for myself, was
calling it "... some inherited life". I realized that's
not intended to disparage whatever I inherited. Rather it's to
differentiate between living
who I really am,
and living the life I inherited. There's enormous leverage in making
this distinction. And I gain access to making this distinction by
unflinchingly looking at what I make significant ie at what I make mean
something. It's not merely the significance and the meaning which is
inherited: it's giving value to ie it's lending credence
to the significance making and the meaning making, which is
Now, if you believe what I just said, it won't have much
value for you ie it won't do you much good at all. But if you can
discover it for yourself, that's when it becomes truly, richly
valuable. Simply owning it's you who are the author of all
the significance and of all the meaning in everything which is
significant and meaningful in life, is the access to living life
It's more than that actually: it's the access to
itself and to living life
without once interrupting while I spoke. His generosity includes
allowing me to speak my ideas into shape (if you will)
with him. Thinking ideas through is one thing.
ideas down is but a small step further than thinking ideas through, yet
it's not a big enough step to
a transition into an entirely new realm. Speaking ideas out loud, on
the other hand, ie trying them on for size in the
human being, brings forth an exponentially new possibility for
When I was finished, he said "I really got what you said about (what
said about) '... some inherited life' as distinct from my
life. It doesn't disparage my inherited life. Quite the opposite, in
fact: making the distinction between the two,
life as well as my inherited life, while providing a
life. However, as a belief, it's next to worthless. Until I discover it
as a distinction for myself, I'm really not living my life at
all: I'm just sitting on the fence. And I'm certainly not
"So do you still believe what
says?" I asked him. "I might ... but only after I've discovered it for
myself" he replied, then after a brief pause, added "The thing is once
I've discovered it for myself, I own it. So whether I believe him or
not at that point, becomes irrelevant.".
That's what I'm talking about: discovery (ie discovering
it for yourself) makes the thing real, and makes it come
whereas believing it (no matter who says it, even if it's
the truth) gives no real power and no leverage ie it gives no access to