A friend and I are talking, a
conversation in which he confides his life doesn't seem to amount to
anything. That's a pretty bold statement, I think, coming from a guy
who owns two houses, is well on to his way to amassing his third
million, and drives a Bentley - not to mention he's been a happily
married father for fifteen years. Success, he's telling me, eludes him.
He says he envisioned himself "becoming someone" someday
... but this vision, by his own estimation, hasn't materialized.
I listen and listen and listen until he becomes quiet. Regardless of
what he's talking about, the gift, the trust, and the intimacy of his
sharing isn't lost on me. I'm not looking to come up with
to what he's struggling with. Like ignoring a radio on in the
background ("ignore" in the sense of
"let it be, without
it"), I can ignore how thrown I am to want to
the issues he says beguile his life. Yet even if I tried to
the issues he says beguile his life, there's simply too little
distinction in what he's saying (it's all one big undifferentiated
mass) to gain any traction to start on. So I go in another direction. I
say simply "Thank You!". After a surprised few moments of silence, he
asks "Thank you? ... for what?". "Thank you for having the
courage to share it all, for being unafraid to let it all hang
out" I say.
"Thank You!" isn't the answer he's looking for. Neither is it the
answer he's expecting. There's no helping in it. There's
in it. There's no rescuing in it. In fact it goes long
around every issue he raises, heading instead straight to the
of what's really happening: he and I, old friends, sharing
openly, unabashedly, generously. He smiles a tentative smile. "Good" I
think. "The fog's lifting. He's no longer drowning in the issues.".
Who he really is
is finally emerging. It's good to see him smiling again.
Now here's a thing to know about me: I'm actually not very good at
giving advice. That's mostly because "Do as I say" is only
interimly useful, only interimly powerful in my opinion. So, for that
matter, is "Do as I do" only interimly useful, only
interimly powerful. They're only interimly useful, only interimly
powerful because they're both grounded in doing, yes? Neither
are grounded in being. And ultimately the real power we have in
Life is from being. But it's more than that actually. It's
ultimately the real power we have in Life is from being
may have said). That's why if I were to offer him any advice at all,
it would be neither "Do as I do" and nor would it be "Do as I say".
Rather it would be "Say as I say ...".
is used to merely describe, when it's used to merely comment on
an already situation, then it's talking about. When
is used to merely describe, when it's used to merely comment on an
already situation, this kind of "talking" goeswith "about"
may have said). This kind of talking isn't really speaking.
Rather it's "talkingabout". And the thing about talkingabout as
distinct from speaking (contrary to what it may seem like or
sound like) is there's never any real authorship or
creativity in it.
So there's never really any
who we are
I love my friend dearly - as a buddy, as an associate, as a human
being. I've got no intention to change him. I've got nothing going
on with him the way he's being, whether it's the issue he
says he has with success (or with the absence of it), or whether it's
the issue he says he has with being someone (or with not being
someone). So far he's only shared his disillusionment with
the way things are, with me ... which is to say his disillusionment
with things not going the way he thinks they should go. It could
getting him to see the no success situation he describes
himself in, is only that way because he says it's that way. It
getting him to see the success situation he describes himself
not being in, is only that way because he doesn't say
it any other way. As for wanting to be someone: his
very notion of wanting to be someone, belies the fact he's already
someone. It's a
his wanting to be someone belies the fact he's already
someone, so it precludes him from ever being someone. His
language as an implement
unbeknownst to him, is bringing forth who he really isn't.
That's useful. That's powerful. So that's the direction I steer the
conversation in. I intend he gets away from conceptualizing becoming
successful and becoming someone as goals. I intend he takes on
saying them instead as where he comes from
- not as a matter of positive thinking but rather just as
a matter of stating the obvious.
"I won't advise you or give you advice" I tell him. "All that
accomplishes is distracting you from discovering your true power. But
say as I say ... and then if something does open up for you, I won't be
He looks at me without talking, smiles (this time it's no longer
tentative), and puts his arm around my shoulders. Then slowly, at first
hesitantly then rapidly gaining confidence, he starts speaking.