The You that Lies Within Me


What lies behind us

and what lies before us

are tiny matters

compared to

what lies within us.

–Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are some people in life who are so essential to one’s sense of bearing and identity that one can’t imagine who one might have become without their influence.   In ways small or great, the miracle of their existence has helped shape the miracle of your own.  They lie within the very matrix of your thoughts, beliefs, behaviors, associations and memories, and their voice or demeanor or peculiar laugh or sense of humor or way of interacting with family, friends and strangers comes to you in the most surprising moments to assist you in the various day-to-day challenges of living life fully.  Moments in their company may lie behind you, but because they are so deeply within you that they cannot be separated from who you are, you carry them forward into the unfolding of what lies before you.

One of these beings in my world is my Aunt Betty, who turns 60 this week.  In celebration of her sixtieth, I humbly offer a few of the many thoughts, beliefs, associations and lessons I carry forward from Betty:

  • If someone asks you for spare change, no
    matter who they are or what you think they’ll do with it, give it to them.  “God lives in every one of us.  That’s God asking for spare change, too!”
  • When the family is having a big
    get-together picnic, write your name on your plastic cup with a Sharpie marker
    and don’t lose that cup—“ ‘cuz plastic plants had to die to make that cup!”
  • Two sisters bolting out “No Man Is an
    Island, No Man Stands Alone…” upon “request” doesn’t necessarily guarantee
    harmony or a willing audience…
  • When the family gets together for a
    holiday, every dish, including dessert, should have as its principle ingredient
    off-brand cream of mushroom soup
  • Every dish, including cream of mushroom
    soup, is better with chunks of chocolate swimming in it
  • Kitchens are sacred places, no matter
    what concoction is made in them.
  • Chocolate is the building block of all essential
    nutrients
  • “Let the boys do the heavy lifting chores.
    That’s what boys are supposed to do.  Girls
    are supposed to drink margaritas by the pool.”
  • When meeting a celebrity like Prince in
    a bookstore, impress your teenage nieces by casually talking his ear off.
  • The Queen doesn’t deign to move from her
    throne to retrieve things within her reach like shoes, glass of water, magazines—for
    such tasks, minions should always be summoned from the far side of the house!
  • People of all ages, no matter how young,
    should be taken seriously. But, no one should take themselves too seriously.
  • A trustworthy confidante will hold your wishes
    and your feelings sacred and offer wise advice from the heart without
    attachment to what you do with that advice.
  • Letters by pen are carriers of the soul
    of their author. Treat them as such.
  • Deep compassion for that difficult
    family member is just a little understanding away.
  • Unicorns ARE real. Believe in children’s
    make-believe.
  • Don’t give up on anyone. Ever.

Happy Birthday, Aunt
Betty!!  Thank you for the you within me…

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