The Selfishness of Not Being Selfish
A Little Talk on
“The Guy in the Glass”
Several years ago it was suggested to me to tape the following poem on my mirror and recite it every night before I went to bed and to ask myself how I did that day. It’s by Peter Dale Wimbrow, and was written in 1934. It’s called: “The Guy in the Glass,” although it is often referred to as “The Man in the Glass.”
When you get what you want in your struggle for pelf,
And the world makes you King for a day,
Then go to the mirror and look at yourself,
And see what that man has to say.
For it isn’t your Father, or Mother, or Wife,
Whose judgment upon you must pass,
The feller whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the man staring back from the glass.
He’s the feller to please, never mind all the rest,
For he’s with you clear up to the end,
And you’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test,
If the man in the glass is your friend.
You may be like Jack Horner and chisel a plum,
And think you’re a wonderful guy,
But the man in the glass says you’re only a bum,
If you can’t look him straight in the eye.
You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years,
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be heartache and tears,
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.
Of course, it is a dated poem with its “feller’s,” “him’s,” and “bum’s,” but its overall message is a powerful one and bears some looking into, in fact, so does the whole poem.
The word “pelf,” in the first line is often wrongly printed as “self.” In some ways the switch works, but I think Wimbrow's original wording is quite significant. “Pelf” is an old Middle English word that means, “stolen goods (Online Etymology Dictionary).” It’s where we get the word, “pilfer (ibid).” It can also simply mean money, and it is this definition, I think, with which Wimbrow intended, although it wouldn’t surprise me if he knew the its other meanings and used it on purpose to double effect.
So go ahead, says Wimbrow, go after money. There’s nothing wrong with that in the least. You may even become king for a day--famous, renowned, a viral-hit. That’s all good he says. Just do one thing when that happens: look in the mirror.
He follows up the challenge with some suggestions on who to please. This is the part of the poem that makes some people shrug it off as selfish and perhaps even narcissistic. However, is Wimbrow really suggesting we not care about others? Is he really saying to not try and please anyone else?
I don’t think so. What I believe he is saying is this:
Live your dreams.
Live your heart’s desire.
No matter what anyone says. No matter who calls you a fool; no matter tells you whatever it is you’re trying to do is impossible, no matter who calls you selfish for trying to live your dreams—disloyal, no matter what they say—live your dreams anyway. I don’t think he’s referring to not doing nice, pleasing things for your loved ones. I think he is saying live the adage:
“To thine own self be true.”
If I can’t look in the mirror and love who I see; if I can’t look myself straight in the eye because I have lived out of integrity with myself, my dreams, or the law—my commitments, then watch out—heartache and tears will follow.
Wimbrow’s poem can be twisted, of course, and used as a rallying cry for utter anarchy and doing only what one feels like doing. I don’t believe that was his intention with this poem at all. He is calling us to live lives of integrity, after all, he makes two different references to stealing: The use of the word “pelf,” as we have already pointed out, can mean stolen goods, and so does, “chiseling a plum.” In the early 1900’s “chisel” meant to cheat or swindle.”
Cheating, stealing, swindling—these are all options in the world, sad but true. Try them, Wimbrow says—cheat the world, cheat yourself--and you will be a haunted person. The one looking back from the glass is always watching, and will not be able to meet your gaze. We needn’t worry about God, Santa Claus, or anyone else: The person in the mirror knows, and if we can’t look them straight in the eye and be satisfied with who we see, who we are, then, as he says, we’re bums.
Of course it doesn’t help matters to guilt ourselves or call ourselves disparaging names. His generation thought better of guilt than we do today however. A little guilt back then was a healthy thing. It showed you had a conscious. Today our overblown political correctness has somehow colored guilt to instantly look like shame, but in Wimbrow’s generation, that wasn’t the case. If you’ve done something out of integrity with yourself, those around you, with your dreams, it is a healthy thing to feel guilty. It awakens you to make a change, to make amends, to repent—to become reborn. So, Wimbrow says, if you don’t like who you are make changes. And, it can be added: “Nothing changes if nothing changes.”
Learning to love yourself, live your dreams, pleasing yourself in healthy, honest ways, is a dangerous test he says, and a difficult one. This thinking too is a product of Wimbrow’s generation. For the journey towards our dreams, our self-integrity and self-love may indeed be difficult in some ways, and it may, in some cases, be dangerous, with tricky turns and darkened woods. However it can also be wonderful, beautiful, joyous, transcendent, and revelatory—a grand adventure into the sheer fun of being alive—into the exquisite, creative wildness of being who were meant to be.
For me, this old fashioned poem still carries an important message: live your dreams, love yourself, be honest first with yourself, and then the world. If you cheat yourself by not living the life you love, you will be faced with bitterness and tears.
One last thought about the mirror idea: we are all each other’s mirrors: “In Lak'ech Ala K'in,” is Mayan for: “I am another you, you are another me.” When we live our dreams and a life we love it will shine in the lives of those around us. It ripples out, spreads like the dawn, and everyone around us is changed.
So far from being selfish in the old sense of the word, this poem is about loving yourself enough to live your dreams, and in so doing, those around us will be lifted just a little higher to live theirs.
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On the Love of Showers, Soap, Rubber Duckies,
And Thirst Relief International
So I was reading some P.G. Wodehouse ("Right Ho, Jeeves") by candlelight a couple days ago during one of the recent power outages here in Philly, and there is a scene where Bertie Wooster (one of the goofball main characters) is really down in the dumps. He decides to take a bath (“splash in the porcelain”) in order to lift his spirits, and it works! While doing so he even discovers there is a rubber ducky in the tub, and his delight really takes off. Here is how that scene reads:
"After splashing about in the porcelain for a bit, composure began to return...I have always found that in moments of heart-bowed-downness there is nothing that calms the bruised spirit like a good go at the soap and water....The discovery of a toy duck in the soap dish contributed not a little to this new and happier frame of mind. What with one thing and another, I hadn't played with toy ducks in my bath for years, and I found the novel experience most invigorating. For the benefits of those interested, I may mention that if you shove the thing under the surface with the sponge and then let go, it shoots out of the water in a manner calculated to divert the careworn."
As in the above snippet suggests, taking a bath or a shower is completely therapeutic in the truest sense of the word. Water is a great healer, whether one is drinking a nice cool, glass of it or taking a dip in the tub. Water heals, refreshes, invigorates, and cleanses. And when you add fragrant soap to the tub and shower, the whole effect is even more wonderful and enjoyable.
Here’s a secret that is now no longer a secret: I love soap. Soap and water. And showers. Baths are good too. Any kind of water contact involving fragrant soap is a miracle. Really. Now that the secret is out, allow me to further elucidate on the subject.
When I was growing up the only soap we had in the house was Ivory, which, back then, smelled like well, a dull, yet somehow biting-block of lard. Sometimes my mom ordered a bar from Avon scented with musk or something, but in general, the soap fragrances back then were limited. Liquid soap for showers became popular when I was about 10, but even then, the fragrances were nothing too exotic—it was like showering with liquid dish-soap.
Today we can shower with any fruit we want—pear, pineapple, strawberry, watermelon, pomegranate, grapefruit, peach, blueberry, mango, citrus, cucumber, and more. We can lather in vegetables, like carrots and celery. We can foam up with soaps scented with almonds, pumpkins, honey, sandalwood, amber, vanilla, peppermint; and flower essences like patchouli, lilac, clover, honeysuckle, and rose. We can delight in spreading the rich lather of cinnamon scented soap, or even chocolate scented soap. Soap making today is an art form of the highest order (Check out my friend Vanessa's website: she is one of those artists making [among other many wonderful things] soap): Nirvanaland Essentials). Her soaps are amazing!
I tell you the truth that taking a shower in the morning (or anytime) is one the absolute best parts of my day. I always (and you know I don’t use the word “always” very often, but in this case, it’s true) step out of a shower feeling like I’ve been blessed, baptized by holy water—so ready to get on with the day.
The French poet, Francis Ponge, knew about the loveliness of water, and especially of soap. He wrote a whole book-length prose-poem-meditation about soap (one of my all-time favorite books for its sheer enthusiasm and adventurous spirit) in the 1940's. Here is a little excerpt from his book:
“There is something adorable in the personality of soap. Why adorable? Because its behavior is at once the highest degree appealing and completely inimitable. Here is a sort of mediocre pebble, flatly reposing in the plainest saucer in the house. A man comes in with dirty hands. Then the forgotten soap gives itself up to him. Not without some coquetry. It swathes itself in glistening, iridescent veils and, at the same time, tends to vanish…no more fugitive stone in nature. But then, the game exactly consists of holding it in the fingers and chafing it, by the addition of a dose of water sufficient to obtain a voluminous, pearly slobber, wheras if one left it to remain in the water, it would perish in confusion. For soap has its particular dignity…it is a magic stone…the more it foams, with air and water, clusters of scented grapes, it is explosive…water, air and soap overlap, playing leapfrog…Yet it is necessary to return it to its saucer, to its austere oval, its dry patience, and its power to serve again.”
For me there is nothing like showering and lathering with soap that smells like heaven. It is a sensual and truly self-affirming experience that I can’t recommend enough. And it is an experience comprised of the simplest ingredients: soap and water.
And speaking of water, my friend Lefty has once again started a fundraising campaign with Thirst Relief International and so any and all donations that come to the Wonder Child Blog from this post (see the donation button below after the Ernie video) will be given directly to his campaign. And for every $10 you donate he will donate $5 until he’s reached the goal of $2,500. So for as long as this post in online, any donations will go to Thirst Relief International (TRI). TRI is a wonderful organization that helps provide clean, safe drinking water to the nearly one billion people on our planet who have no access to any. Of course, you can go directly to Lefty’s campaign page and donate there too. Click this sentence for the link.
Now please don’t think this post was a big set up to try and make you feel guilty for loving soap and water or for taking long, leisurely showers. That was not my intention at all. I love long, leisurely showers and have no guilt for taking them whatsoever. I decided to add the fundraising piece to this post in hopes your love of water and soap will be shared with others in a real and tangible way. So have a splash in the porcelain and then donate to Thirst Relief International.
Thank you again for reading my friends. You are the bee’s knees.
Happy Third Birthday to the Wonder Child Blog!
Thank you to all of my readers and subscribers!
You are all helping me live my dreams
and be true to myself.
Thank you. Enjoy today's post.
How Does EFT* Help?
A Non-Technical Explanation
Part 2 of 2
Last week we talked about the physical aspects of EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) (tapping). This post will address the things we say (if we say anything at all) while tapping: the phrases, words, affirmations, and the frequently used, “set up” phrases which mention the problem or issue you’re tapping for.
Remember the images of clogs from Part 1. Over the years, these clogs, or emotional stuck-spots, gather words and beliefs to themselves, sort of like a laundry tub drain gathering lint. Somewhere along the line we begin suggesting things to ourselves about ourselves and these blocks. We say things about our experiences and/or our reactions to experiences. In many cases the things we suggest are of an unflattering variety—things we wouldn’t say to a friend, or perhaps even an enemy, but we wind up saying them to ourselves for various and sundry reasons anyway. Over time these unfriendly (and very often unconscious, habitual) suggestions graft themselves onto the emotions and the clogged spots and they mingle, acting as one.
When we tap and say nice things to ourselves or about the situation we are clearing, we are doing nothing expect consciously suggesting new ideas, new beliefs, and new paradigms. Some would call this self-hypnosis, although it technically isn’t. We are suggesting things to ourselves, however, it's just that we are doing it rather out in the open.
Sometimes we do not feel these statements are true. Sometimes they make us feel silly (as does the actual tapping sometimes). It is like eating salty foods day in day out and then suddenly trying a honey crisp apple. It just doesn’t taste right, or normal. However, as we tap and say the affirming (sweet, like the apple) things to ourselves we are building new connections in our brains and nervous systems, ones that carry free-flowing positive energy. We are creating rivers of new ideas and possibilities, channels clear and open for communication with the Divine. We are at once clearing the clogs and infusing the passageways with light.
EFT can also help attach new images to painful memories. EFT cannot change what happened in the past, nothing can, obviously, but EFT can help us carry new ideas, pictures, and revelations about what happened—new ways for the river to flow. So the next time the painful memory comes up, it needn't own us. We can carry a new, self-empowering image.
Before we say the overtly, transformative, affirming things however, sometimes it is necessary to mention the nature of the block or the difficult issue we are trying to free up. This part of the session is like cleaning up coffee that’s spilled on your laptop. The spill needs your attention for a few moments before you can get back to work.
Of course, I do sessions that only mention positive things—affirmations, prayers, songs (I love tapping with songs). There are many ways to use EFT and all are wonderful in their own way.
To sum up, EFT most often combines physical tapping with positive affirmations, phrases of acceptance or new ideas. It can also utilize new, transformative images about whatever it is we are addressing. Amazingly, we needn’t believe these statements, or even believe that tapping works. The scientist tapping the plastic tube doesn’t need to believe it’s working, she just taps, and the clog dissolves. If you try tapping, you will feel better on some level or another whether you believe in it or not. Of course, enthusiastic believing in the process strengthens your results.
If this all sounds goofy, in a way, it is. However, it works. I have been using it on myself for over 5 years, on everything from kidney stones to emotional traumas. Now I also use it with clients, and the results are overwhelmingly positive. There is something extraordinary and simple about this technique. It works with a myriad of issues, both physical and emotional (and the majority of the ones that combine elements of both). It is used to good effect for the treatment of depression, PTSD in both civilians and veterans; it helps with insomnia, worries, confidence issues, and all manner of fears and shames. One EFT session can open doorways and free up unforeseen possibilities.
And while you can tap on your own, it’s a good idea to seek out an EFT practitioner to help get you started or to support you with the more intense issues. One needn’t ever face the dark (or light) alone.
And if you find yourself saying to yourself: “No way. Never trying that. Impossible. That’s pseudo-science.” Remember the old saying by William Paley:
“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance - that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”
Thank you for your kind contributions and birthday presents.
EFT Active Imaginations
A New EFT Protocol
EFT Active Imaginations are a protocol that I developed inspired by the Positive EFT work of Silvia Hartmann* and my own personal tapping work and my work with clients. It is an exciting and powerful EFT protocol that is easy and fun. It involves a little singing, some tapping, some positive affirmations, some creative visualization, as well as some simple movements and gestures. One could call these sessions a form of whole-body meditations or prayers.
Each session begins with taking a deep breath, and then opens with a blessing or an invocation called: "I Give, I Receive." It is a very short song I wrote for my First Graders originally used as a mealtime blessing. Here it begins the session putting into focus that we are not only energy receiving vessels, we are energy sharing vessels. In other words, while it is wonderful and good (and necessary) to tap for our own benefit, growth, and healing, it is also good to keep in mind (and heart) that we are meant to share the fruits of our labor, to shine our light. To that end, I designed each EFT Active Imagination to begin there--with the idea and image of receiving and giving. After all, the energy cannot really be claimed as ours can it? We channel it, help create it, use it, honor it, etc., but it isn't ours. It comes to and through us and from us outwards.
After the invocation we close our eyes for a moment and focus with the eyes of the heart--with the active imagination--on whatever the image is we are wanting to connect with and/or gather energy from. So let's say you wanted to channel the courage of a lion, you would close your eyes, center yourself on that image, making it alive within you in any way you can inside--sight, sound, touch, scents, etc. Breathe in the image and let it resonate there in your imagination. If the image feels shaky or unsettled, trust that your body/mind//heart will work with whatever you come up with. It's not about perfection. In fact, keeping a child-like, adventurous spirit with the protocol is key. Use whatever comes and it will expand and grow as the session progresses. In fact, you will be surprised how powerfully the image will resonate by the time the session is over. You will, in effect, become that image. It will live within you to be accessed whenever you want or need it.
Once you have your image, begin stating what you want. To continue with the aforementioned lion-image, begin saying things like: "Courage, power, strength." Breathe these words in. Tap on the top of the head first (or on whichever point you feel intuitively drawn to) and then progress any sequence you feel fits. Most of the qualities and imaginations that we want to tap into ourselves are of a nature where tapping on the top of the head and collar bone point work great. These are both affirming and grounding points. Trust your hands and body however to tap where you need to.
As you tap saying the words you want, these become living affirmations and prayers. Some would say that they are not affirmations or prayers because of how you are stating them, but for me, I hold large definitions of both prayer and affirmations. There is no sense in limiting such infinitely powerful ideas. Our every thought, word, and deed is a prayer, and when we state qualities or energies that we want more of, we are automatically affirming ourselves AND those qualities.
During the course of an EFT Active Imagination you might feel inspired to pause in the tapping and perform gestures and movements that are appropriate to the image or quality you are tapping with. For example, two gestures that I use in almost all of these sessions are hands and arms outstretched above your head forming a "V" shaped chalice receiving energy from above. Coupled with that gesture I do a similar one but pointing downwards at my sides gathering energy from below, from the earth. In this way our bodies become living bridges between heaven and earth, true living vessels to gather and distribute energy.
We end the session with the same invocation we began with, sweeping our arms, first the right, then the left, giving and receiving, sharing what we just received. The invocation ends with our arms forming a world-embracing gesture, a symbolic gesture of wholeness, inclusiveness, and power.
Throughout the session, be sure to breathe, move if you want, and, most of all, have fun. Have fun knowing you are engaged in a living process of receiving and giving for yourself and the world.