Be Who You Are
To Oscar Wilde this quotation is usually attributed:
“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”
This is amusing, but it really resonates, doesn’t it? Our culture has, does, and always will try to control who and what we are. It sets standards, and if we adhere to those standards, we will never rise above mediocrity. (Under whose authority are these standards set, anyway?) The Army tells us to “be all you can be,” but today’s cancel culture condemns those with ambition to improve themselves, because they’re not following the crowd.
In a recent issue of Holiness Today (Church of the Nazarene’s bi-monthly periodical), separate articles address these contradictions for both men and women. I won’t delve into faith-based living here (the authors of HT do a fine job of that on their own), but the conflicts that they address apply to everyone, regardless of faith.
For decades, men have been increasingly portrayed in film and advertising as imbeciles at best, as irredeemably toxic at worst. The culture claims that men are the problem, because they are controlled by so-called “misguided masculine norms.” John Adams in his HT article “Responsible to the Word of God” cites (with mild astonishment) a New York Times piece titled “Men are in Trouble and Hollywood Wants to Help.”
Hunh? Hollywood wants to help? Hollywood is one of the Top Ten entities wielding a wrecking ball against male role models once prominent in and vital to family and community. And now it’s going to fix them?
In the same way, women have been increasingly portrayed in film and advertising as super-women, able to raise a family (with or without a male parent in the picture), ace a six-figure-income job, and lead the local PTO like nobody’s business, all while looking like a celebrity with nary a lipstick smudge. This is not your parents’ Ozzie and Harriet life (but maybe we should restore that).
Janet Dean, in her HT article “Surrendered to the Word of God” cites an American Psychological Association report that affirms that women “form their identities in contexts with multiple, contradictory and changing messages about what it means to be female.” She points out that women end up “inhabiting a murky place between modern feminism and traditional femininity – identifying with aspects of each, experiencing conflict with each, while also feeling shame for measuring up to neither. … These irreconcilable expectations can become an internalized conflict, causing confusion, distress, and a perpetual sense of feeling like a failure.”
These are all external pressures intent on governing or controlling our internal integrity.
My point today is that we each need to stand firm about who we are. Although it works hard to make you think so, the world has no authority to dictate to you what you should be – what you should feel, say, think, read, eat, buy, or wear; what should be your hobbies, interests, causes, passions, preferences, occupations; who should be your friends; how you should celebrate or grieve – whatever. The world has no interest in your best interests, only that you conform to its interests.
You’re smart enough to know what works for you. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.
Listen to Oscar Wilde. His command, about what you ought to do, is the only one you should heed, because he doesn’t assume any authority. He’s onto a good thing.
To Tease Your Mind
Water has a memory and carries within it our thoughts and prayers.
As you yourself are water, no matter where you are,
your prayers will be carried to the rest of the world.”
(1943 – 2014)
Japanese businessman, author and pseudo-scientist
He claimed that human consciousness could affect the molecular structure of water.
Water and The Power of Words and Thought
Along the same lines as building your self-esteem by not submitting to others’ expectations (above) is this revelation on the power of words and thought to 1) support or sabotage ourselves and 2) build up or tear down others. Most of us are completely unaware of the effects of our thoughts and words, whether positive or negative, on ourselves and on others.
Many years ago, I heard a report that people with a positive outlook on life get sick far less often than people with a negative outlook. When I was in college, a popular mantra was that a smile takes less energy than a frown because it uses fewer facial muscles.
And we all have family members and friends, even ourselves, who have experienced miraculous healing of devastating diseases or injuries, claiming it as a result of prayer. Science can’t explain these things when they happen. Or can it?
Dr. Masaru Emoto (above) became quite fascinated with the potential of water to retain and transmit emotions, resulting in benefits or injuries to recipients. He conducted many experiments with water and wrote books about his results and analysis. I haven’t read his books yet, but recently my friend JoJo (the epitome of joyful living) shared with our business networking group an astonishing video of Emoto’s work.
There are several Emoto videos online and of similar experiments conducted by others. Here are two of them on YouTube:
Rice Experiment – Dr Masaru Emoto (1:20 min.)
Emoto tried several kinds of experiments. He gathered samples of water from many places, flash-froze them, then studied the structure of the ice crystals under a microscope. In clean samples, the crystals were clear and uniform, with beautiful structures. In dirty water samples, the crystals were distorted and discolored.
After exposing polluted water samples to Buddhist prayer, crystals that had previously been distorted and discolored were now beautiful in color and structure.
He exposed water to different kinds of music. Gregorian chant and classical music produced beautiful crystals. Heavy-metal music produced crystals so deformed as to be unrecognizable as crystals.
He put water into separate jars and taped paper labels with different words on the outside of the glass. Some words were uplifting – “love” or “thank you” – and others were demeaning – “hate” or “Hitler.” The resulting crystals reflected the attitude of the words taped on their corresponding jars.
He did a similar thing to jars of rice, placing cooked rice into three separate jars and sealing them, then leaving them for a month. Again, the jars had paper labels with different words written on them. Emoto said kind, uplifting words to the “love” jar every day, and said nasty, degrading words to the “hate” jar every day. The neutral jar was completely ignored.
After a month, the “love” jar’s rice was fermenting with a pleasant smell. The “hate” jar’s rice had turned black. The neutral jar’s rice had become moldy and rotten.
Emoto’s conclusion with his rice experiment was that even negative attention was better than no attention at all. Being ignored dismisses us as living, sentient beings.
Think about it: Emoto points out that over 70 percent of our bodies are water. If our very thoughts can affect how the water within us behaves, how healthy or ill will we be if we have a positive outlook or a negative one? What about what we say to each other? As these studies have shown, if I say something nasty to you, intellectually you may dismiss it (“Bah! Consider the source.”), but it still seeds in your heart and spreads strangling roots like a cancer. If I say something nice to you, it also seeds in your heart, but its roots embrace you instead, creating a trellis on which your heart and soul climb.
Things like this prompt one to consider the effect of our thoughts and words on our own well-being and that of others. A Bible verse (Ephesians 4:29) about not speaking unwholesome words is always included in my published materials. I must remember not to think unwholesome thoughts, either.
A Book Worth Checking Out
The Artist’s Way (25th Anniversary Edition, 2016)
Cameron identifies artistic ability as one personal identity that we each have. Some of us are active artists, regularly engaged in creative endeavors. Some of us are dormant artists – the creativity is inherent in us, not yet cultivated.
An artist can embody one (or more) of any number of creative expressions – writing, sculpture, dance, drawing, music, painting, crafts, textile arts, design, acting – whatever gift you were born with. (Believe me, you were born with at least one creative gift.)
Cameron recommends beginning your new journey as an artist with “morning pages.” You write three pages of whatever comes to mind, even if it’s three pages of “I can’t think of anything to write this morning.” This exercise is intended to clear your creative throat, to sweep away mental blocks. Morning pages are not shared with anyone else. You may never read them again. But they help you to get beyond your internal censor whose mantra is that you can’t make your creation PERFECT, implying “so why bother?”
News flash: Nobody’s creation is perfect. Not in rough-draft form. Not in finished form.
One of Cameron’s clients ran a very successful business, but he wasn’t happy. While talking with her, he revealed that he had always wanted to do sculpture, but had never developed that passion, mostly because others told him he couldn’t be successful at it (note: their definition of success). Cameron recommended that he take up sculpture as a hobby, and he found great satisfaction in it. Who knows how great his work was aesthetically, but who cares? It filled a lifelong gap; therefore, he was successful.
Cameron’s book is designed as a workshop, with exercises concluding each chapter. You can go through all, some, or none of the exercises. In any case, it’s a compassionate and inspiring book that encourages you to be true to yourself and unleash the artist within.
Calendar & Announcements
Saturday, March 12, 2022, 4 pm
Merrimac Mic “All the Best Words” Open Mic
Community Room, Merrimac Public Library
86 West Main Street, Merrimac, MA 01860
Visitors welcome both in-person (masked) and Zoom
Meeting ID: 807 567 7136
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Sunday, March 13, 2022, 11 am – 6 pm
The Wicked Creative Conah – Local New England Art Show
(click here for info, to register in advance, and to reserve tickets)
Maria’s Family Restaurant
81 Essex Street, Haverhill, MA
Venue for local artists, small biz owners
to showcase and sell your art, products, and services.
Sign up on the link above.
Open Mic for poets and musicians
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Sponsored by Wicked Smaht Wellness
Recent Events / Available Video
Love Local Show & Tell Video
The Room to Write (Colleen Getty, Founder) invited local authors and illustrators from New England to send in a 30-60-second video about the books they’ve published in 2020, 2021, and 2022. Twenty participated, and Wakefield Community Access Television (WCAT) curated the pieces into a single YouTube video.
Do you have comments or questions about this post? I’d love to hear them. Let’s talk!
Happy reading! Happy writing!
Gary Larson cartoon – individual penguin
Dr. Masaru Emoto with crystal-drop
12 Emoto crystal photographs
“I love you” “I hate you” rice jars
Dr. Masaru Emoto’s Water Experiment: Words Are Powerful
Rice Experiment – Dr Masaru Emoto