Words by which we Live
Awhile back I was in a group of people (many had MA’s in Counseling, which will show itself soon enough) and a question was asked along the lines of “if we all had tattooed a word on our foreheads what would yours be?” An interesting question to consider and how one answers says much about how they view themselves if not others. After all, the word is something everyone ELSE will see and may just as much be a word for others as much as it is a word for my self. When it came time for me to give an answer there wasn’t much hesitation.
There is a word I’ve spent years learning, hearing, repeated back to me, approached from so many different angles; a word that the more I am asked to look at it, and chew on it, the more I get the sense that it is a word to who I am, that was there when I was born, written on my flesh in invisible ink, and maybe even like the One Ring in Lord of the Rings, the invisible writing glows when near fire – when I am living in my skin. It’s a word that ultimately isn’t about me to begin with, though. It is a word that has numerous meanings and is used first and foremost in reference of God in the Torah. In English it sounds like “Pala.” Here are just a few of the words it can mean: to be wonderful, to be extraordinary, to be amazing, to appear impossible, to be surpassing. And for as much as those words should and easily are attributed to God, he seems to keep saying, “Hey, kid, that is also some of what you were made with from day one. Live in that realty.” As if to say “Like Father, like son, kid.” And like Father, like son, it can’t be self-aggrandizing in the end. As Hassidic Rabbi Moshe of Kobryn said, "Anyone who think himself bigger than the word is not the kind of person we are talking about."
Back in that group, when I said that this would be the word tattooed on my forehead, one of the guys (one of the MA’s in Counseling) responded, “Why don’t you just have Narcissist there instead?” Narcissist - a word that many in this group were obsessed with, but probably more out of their fear that they were one than anything else. I was initially shocked by his response and of course a bit hurt because he seemed to miss the point completely. But then, most of us respond out of our own crap more than out of truth, and this particular guy always seemed to wrestle with thinking he was not good for anything, and more a good for nothing; had a pretty low view of himself. And as I said, I never thought of it as just a word about me, but a reminder for others, too – that we are made for things impossible, extraordinary, spectacular, to be amazing. Maybe he wasn’t ready to receive that possibility
Truth be told, it’s taken me years, though, to receive this reality, this word, this Pala. And it will probably take a lifetime to feel comfortable wearing it. But unlike other words spoken over or against me through out the years, this one seems to have been there before I took my first breath, which might just mean it is the truest thing about me. And maybe the truest thing about you. The trail of risks and impossibilities in my wake seems to affirm it true or I am just another nutcase for the asylum, but of course it is the lunatics that run the Asylum, right? :)