I AM WHO I AM NOT BUT MAY HAVE BEEN
WHO AM I NOT?
I am who I am not: I am the one who does not speak French or German or Arabic or a host of other languages. I am not afraid to try to learn, but I wouldn’t place a large wager on my becoming fluent. I can’t even spell very well in English. Opera does not float my boat and neither do boats, though I have owned several small fishing boats over the years. I have no burning desire to go to China or Japan or to the Orient. I won’t get up early to stand in line to buy an iPhone, iPad or iGizmo. I am not militaristic. I am not a fan of big corporations or big government. I don’t ask people what they think I should do. I don’t speak your mind. I try not to meddle in my kids’ lives, but I’ll leave them free to tell you different. I am not gifted in music, though my mother, bless her soul, kept up the piano lessons until 4th grade. I have a misperception of my capacities to play football and baseball, though I am not afraid to play third base. I am not afraid to make a mistake on my own taxes. I am not afraid to volunteer in maximum security prisons. I am not shy, I am curious. I do not give my time away easily. I do get second opinions when it comes to what doctors tell me.
And so I can make a list of the things I am not: not gifted in, have no desire to do, or have no interest in whatsoever.
WHY AM I HERE?
Much of our culture defines people by their gifts and talents, what you’re good at. But what about the things we’re not good at, or the list you or I could make based on the above? Why are we NOT interested in those specific things?
I can, and have, made such a list. I take it out and refer to it whenever my wife and I get out our bucket list, or annually, just to see if I’ve uncovered something else I’m not good at.
If you were someone who thought your soul was a spiritual component that may have lived through multiple lives, you could wonder whether or not from lifetime to lifetime your soul picked up certain capacities, became good at one thing or another. Then, once the soul became good at a thing, like a language or playing music, or third base or what have you, it got it, then the next time around the soul wasn’t particularly interested.
Rudolf Steiner,(1861-1925) in one of his lectures on reincarnation, suggested that if you entertain that line of operating hypothesis, and conduct your own research, then making a list of what you do not care about, are not good at, and avoid (who you are not in this life) might give you a pointer as to who you may have been in a previous life or in all previous lives. For example, based on my personal research, I could have been a concubine who was also a professional cellist in China, or a brick maker in Egypt or a dancing nose-flute player in Africa.
WHAT DO I WANT?
Can life, or business, be lived according to the Quaker Community Softball Team approach? Or should we continue to push the gifts and talents of people to excel as we now do?
The community team method is to be inclusive and give everyone the opportunity to play. It asks overly technical and talented people to develop a feeling for emotions and love. It asks lovers to smarten up a bit, musicians to put down the cello and pick up the t-square. It asks the ones who are, as Paul Simon said, “soft in the middle” to get a little firmer and those who are too firm in the middle to soften. It gives everybody a chance to play. It is not outcome based.
This kind of thinking leads to weird mental constructs and experiences. I could add here a great personal story about my Quaker softball team which went 100% defeated for an entire season. Our record came down to the last at bat of the last game. Impossibly we were tied and had the bases loaded in the bottom of the last inning with our autistic catcher up to bat. She got w-a-y too happily excited. I have never, and probably will NEVER, see a human being so excited and so excarnated as that young woman was. It was worth the price of admission to life to watch that. My, my, my. And we managed to muff the opportunity to score a run, so in the end, we kept our perfect season: 0 and 10.
I can hear the voices of my overly hard friends speaking in my mental ears, chastising me once again for that wishy-washy kind of view of life, and business, they know I enjoy.
But that raises another question. Why in the world do I pick the friends I do!? WE do. They seem to be the ones who are constantly trying to better me/us, push me/us, correct me/us, keep me/us from slipping into my/our comfortable easy chairs of life and disappearing into my/ourselves. They are very much at work helping me/us become more like the person I/we am/are not. Thank you.
(Note to self: Do not apply the Quaker Softball Community Team approach to pronouns ever again!)
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