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Be Like Aslan

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…” “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you. -C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

Good does not equal safe. Dangerous does not equal bad.

There’s nothing more reckless and irresponsible than advocating a concept of virtue that reduces “goodness” to the attributes of harmlessness and passivity.

A goodness that is threatening to no one is a goodness that is useless to everyone.

Goodness is no less concerned with progress than with platitudes; it is no less preoccupied with freedom than with friendliness.

And how can we promote progress, how can we fight for freedom if we have no willingness to offend, to produce discomfort, to stir up the tension that necessarily accompanies the disruption of the status quo?

Wherever there is creativity, there is always some form of destruction.

Wherever there is evolution, there is always some form of extinction.

Nothing good comes into being without the prior states of inertia being destroyed.

We think we’re avoiding risks, but we’re really avoiding ourselves. We’re avoiding our capacity to do work that matters, to lead lives that make a difference, to touch people’s heart’s with something that stings, burns, resonates, shakes them up, and arouses them out of their intellectual and spiritual slumber. Yes, we avoid all of this in the name of following some trope we’ve mistaken for that which is truly good. In our efforts to be good, we have become boring, unnoticeable, and unmoving. In a word, “safe.”

Maybe we need to be more like Aslan. Maybe we need to do more dangerous things like say what we really mean and pursue what we really want. Maybe we need to allow ourselves to be mesmerized and intoxicated by what truly thrills us, what truly turns us on, what truly tunes us up.

Maybe we should pray that our brands be damned and our fires be stoked.

Maybe (Just Maybe) There’s Nothing Wrong With You

Much of what we call “sin” is simply a matter of a person not fitting in.

Some of us need to spend less time apologizing for our personalities and more time seeking out the spaces where we truly belong, where we truly thrive; where our presence, our style, and our unique form of brilliance is genuinely appreciated.

Sometimes we need to challenge ourselves. Sometimes we need to accept that we’re okay just the way we are.

The Others Are Out There

“Admit it. You aren’t like them. You’re not even close. You may occasionally dress yourself up as one of them, watch the same mindless television shows as they do, maybe even eat the same fast food sometimes. But it seems that the more you try to fit in, the more you feel like an outsider, watching the “normal people” as they go about their automatic existences. For every time you say club passwords like “Have a nice day” and “Weather’s awful today, eh?”, you yearn inside to say forbidden things like “Tell me something that makes you cry” or “What do you think deja vu is for?” Face it, you even want to talk to that girl in the elevator. But what if that girl in the elevator (and the balding man who walks past your cubicle at work) are thinking the same thing? Who knows what you might learn from taking a chance on conversation with a stranger? Everyone carries a piece of the puzzle. Nobody comes into your life by mere coincidence. Trust your instincts. Do the unexpected. Find the others…” -Timothy Leary

Each person has a place where they look and feel beautiful. Our job is to find that place (or create that place) and make it our home.

Unfortunately, most of us just waste away our lives hanging out in popular places or politically correct places while we struggle desperately to convince the people around us that if they only looked at us from the correct angle, they would see that we really are beautiful. But beauty can’t be argued. Either it is seen or it is not seen.

If the subject of your beauty is frequently treated like a topic of controversy and contention, then you’re probably in the wrong place.

Timothy Leary advised us to “find the others.”

Who are the others?

The ones who don’t need syllogisms and soliloquies to see your beauty.

You need to have a self in order to give yourself

Being burned out is a great technique for making ourselves look and feel important, but in the long run, it really doesn’t help the people we claim to serve.

How can you possibly give yourSELF to the world if that very SELF is being drained and depleted through self-disregard?

Where is the “goodness” in all our good works if our labor lacks the presence and vitality that only a nourished soul can provide?

Martyrdom is overrated. If you really want to make a selfless contribution to humanity, sacrifice your belief that the universe will collapse if you’re not micromanaging every possible dilemma; sacrifice your belief that you are somehow unworthy of the same love, respect, and consideration you extend towards others.

The world doesn’t need anymore overworked, overtaxed, overfatigued, broken-down, burned-out heroes.

The world needs givers who know how to replenish their own wells. The world needs people who are so generous that they never stop investing in their own capacity to have something to offer.

The most selfless thing we can do is to make sure we’re never sharing anything less than a version of ourselves that’s actually worth sharing.

Love your neighbor AS yourself means “Love yourself. Then do the same for others.” It doesn’t mean “Love others, but treat yourself like garbage.”

 

Before you make that sacrifice, please think about the rest of us

Sacrifice is a necessary part of relationships and in most cases our sacrifices are made with the best of intentions, but I won’t deny or downplay the idea that there is such a thing as an unhealthy or dangerous sacrifice.

I’ve seen way too many parents, ministers, social workers, and charity volunteers become the unnecessary victims of high-blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, sleeplessness, extreme anxiety, debilitating stress, chronic resentment and a host of other problems that hindered their ability to serve simply because they neglected the importance of self-care.

Sacrifice, when combined with intelligence and a healthy lifestyle, can be a powerful and productive strategy for achieving positive goals. Unnecessary martyrdom, however, is harmful to everyone involved.

It’s one thing to sacrifice personal desires, money, conveniences, comfort, material possessions, and other things we can live without, but if we’re putting ourselves in the hospital, the therapist’s office, or the grave, in the name of looking out for others, then we should reevaluate our motives and our strategy.

If we truly live to serve others, then we ought to take care of ourselves enough to make sure we can actually stick around to be there for them.

Yes, the world needs us. But it needs us because of what we can do. If we deprive ourselves of that ability because of an unhealthy desire to feel needed or an unbalanced determination to “always be helping,” then we miss the point.

We should do whatever we can to make the world a better place, but we can’t achieve that goal if we’re sacrificing our health and sanity in the process.

Before you make that sacrifice, please think about the rest of us. If you’re really worried about our problems, please don’t make it worse by giving us the additional problem of having to rush you to the emergency room because of your failure to ever sit down, relax, have a meal, and sleep.

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