No, not that.

There’s a great Monty Python bit in which the suitor is talking to his intended wife’s father. The abbreviated version would go something like this.

Graham Chapman: “Do you have a position?”

Michael Palin: (Snort) “I cleans public lavatories.”

Graham Chapman: “And is there a potential for promotion?”

Michael Palin: “Yeah–after five years they gives me a brush.”

We spend the first quarter of our life preparing to take on a position. The next two quarters of our lives, we define ourselves by our positions. Finally, we learn that our position is what we do, not who we are.

Jackson Browne (with, perhaps some help from his neighbor Don Henley) may have said it best in “Running on Empty”:

Gotta do what you can just to keep your love alive
Trying not to confuse it with what you do to survive

We are who we are and we do what we do–don’t confuse them.


One response to “Positions

  1. Oh, if only you and I were mature and wise enough to understand your sage words when we started out in our early years: “We are who we are and we do what we do…” We perhaps would have not wasted most of our lives trying to understand it’s not necessary to understand everything. That we can’t be happy if we continue to search for who we are and what happiness is. That we can’t enjoy living if we’re always seeking our role in life. And the quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning: Uncertainty is the very condition that impels us to unfold who we are.

    My daughters think I’m BANANAS—because I continue to read older self-help books by authors like Orison Swett Marden: “He can Who Thinks He Can.” It refers to man’s desire for self-fulfillment, personally and professionally, namely the tendency for one to become actually what he is potentially; to become everything one is capable of becoming. Marden makes three interesting claims: 1) What we must decide ultimately is “how we are valuable”…not how valuable we are; 2) The reason people find it so hard to be happy is they always see the past worse than it was, the present less resolved than it is, and the future less certain than it will be; and 3) Our tomorrow (the new) is hidden in the our past (the old) which comprises our present (being and becoming).

    So, I envision it like this: The emphasis of the Old is on DOING, while the emphasis of the NEW is on BEING. The Old creates EXPECTATIONS; the NEW…REALIZATION. The Old stirs a longing in the heart for becoming; the NEW… SATISFACTION for arriving.

    The New is in the Old CONCEALED; The Old is in the New REVEALED.

    The NEW is in the Old CONTAINED; The OLD is in the New EXPLAINED.

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