Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, July 1, 2009
I have a face like the behind of an elephant.
- Charles Laughton, actor, born on this date,
1899, in Scarborough, Yorkshire, England
Now can you not take to someone with that kind of self-understanding and self-acceptance! Mind you, it does help if you are a rich and famous actor, with roles like “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, Captain Bligh in “Mutiny on the Bounty”, and in “Les Miserables” (1935).
What this is essentially about, of course, is self-awareness. Knowing who you really “are”. Being free to acknowledge who you are without self-deception. There is no greater gateway to a wonderful, free Life.
I doubt that Charles Laughton would have been as successful as he was as an actor if he had not had this sense of reality about himself. And that is exactly what most religions are (or should be) all about, as well as the great philosophies of the World – the most famous example being Socrates and his statement, “Know thyself” (ascribed to Socrates, but also to five other Greek sages), and “The unexamined Life is not worth living”, which I understand as a call to self-knowledge.
One of the most difficult things for human beings in general, as well as for Christians, is to look at themselves ruthlessly – which from the point of view of the Gospel would be synonymous with “lovingly”. The point being: the more we deceive ourselves about reality, the more we will screw up.
Today, I am going to find some time to think about this. What am I really like? What am I hiding about myself? What am I deluding myself about? How am I miring my Life in the stickiness of “sin”, that is, of thinking I am being loving when I am not? I really do understand that the more honest I am, the more real I am, the freer I will be to be the spectacular being I am.
We all need to know when our face is like the behind of an elephant (with apologies to the elephant, who I suspect would not want his ass and his face to be the same!) The more honest we are about ourselves, the more we can laugh, the more genuine a human being we can become.
As the T-shirt I saw on Block Island says, “You go Girl!”.