Monthly Archives: March 2017

Just be Yourself. (Ish.)

Bald guy looking up , thinking.

I overhear it at Starbucks, walking into a movie theater, shopping and at the oil change place. A young person, usually a young woman, is about to go on a job or college interview, is preparing to ask for a promotion or has been invited to speak publicly. In all these scenarios she is nervous. Someone—could be a mom, bestie or mechanic—offers the sage advice, “Just be yourself.”

The trouble with “just be yourself” is that we are many people and it’s not always so simple to narrow it down to the right person for the job. If you are the butt of the joke in your family because you behave around them like a nincompoop, it would be best not to present thusly at a job interview with a bank. Likewise, if  someone asks you a question at a dinner party and you then barricade yourself in the bathroom with a book, well, you probably don’t want to be her when she is about to give a Ted Talk.

I used to subscribe to the JBY philosophy on first dates, because frankly there is nothing worse, and one needs some sort of philosophy to cling to in order to survive. My reasoning was that if anything was going to last relationship-wise, then shouldn’t I operate authentically from the get go? No. Nuh uh. I have a wacky sense of humor, which is distinctly me. Experience has taught me that it is better to reveal it, little by little over time rather than springing it on an unsuspecting man all at once.

Example: “first date” lunch. I had a hair appointment at 3 to get my roots touched up, so I wore a jaunty hat. He was bald. I do not have a problem with bald. Apparently, he did. Lunch went well. At first. He had all his teeth and knew how to operate a knife and fork. He was a little uptight, so I reined myself in a just a bit so as to not overwhelm. Suddenly it was 2:30 and I needed to skedaddle.

I told him about my salon appointment. He touched a lock of my long auburn hair and asked whether I’d ever worn it short. I recounted the time just before my lawyer was to get married on Martha’s Vineyard that I went to a new salon for a body wave. Informed there would be no stylists available over the wedding weekend on the island, I would have to do my own hair, and I thought it would be nice to have a little wave for a sexy up do.

At the schmancy salon the stylist rolled my hair up, applied stinky goop and stuck me under a dryer hood. A few minutes later I felt something trickle down my face. I wiped a finger across my cheek and discovered blood. I screamed. Everyone screamed. Two women frantically pulled the rollers out, and with them clumps of my hair, which was now clown orange. I screamed again, in a prolonged, agonizing wolfy way. They had used the wrong goop, apparently mistaking a toxic chemical solvent meant to strip paint off aircraft carriers for setting solution. In fairness, they offered to cut the damaged hair for free, but I ran away, thinking of the possibilities should they get near me with sharp pointy scissors.

At another salon I was told my “length could not be saved” and I ended up with a #2 fade. Ooh ra! At the wedding I looked like a Marine in high heels, wearing an Armani strapless empire waist gown with a 2’ train. Mariska Hargitay kept calling me sir.

Eyes wide, my lunch date said, “That must have been incredibly traumatic!”

“Na,” I replied. It’s just hair. It grows back.” I looked at his head, smiled, and in that way I have when I am just being my (silly) self, I added, “In most cases.”

“Check!” he snapped. I never saw him again.

Since high school I have had the honor and onus of being the family eulogist. We have always been very close, so delivering a grandparent’s eulogy, or a beloved aunt’s, or my mom’s would have been impossible were I to just be myself.

It begins with the writing. No way I could get through even that unless I pretended to be someone else, and that someone is almost always John Fitzgerald Kennedy, one of the greatest orators in history. I would think of him at his inaugural…”ask not what your country can do for you…” and I would internally recreate his cadence and delivery as I wrote, detaching me from the content just enough so I didn’t bawl my eyes out and fry the keyboard.

Pretending to be someone else—the opposite of being myself—was and is an efficient way to get through something too tough, too painful for actual me. I would imagine JFK as I delivered the eulogies. It would be me speaking, but in my head I was hearing JFK extoll the many virtues of my lovely mother, describe the sweet sense of humor my Aunt Grace possessed, and describe my grandpa’s big tough laborer’s mitts—mitts in which he would so softly and gently cradle a baby bunny he had rescued.

Being someone else in our head not only helps us get through a difficult time emotionally, it can also be a great physical motivator. It’s no secret I am fond of Bruce Springsteen. At 67 he rocks the body of a 30 year old who works out four hours a day, eats right and doesn’t drink or smoke. When I am feeling wimpy at 6 in the morning, and think I can just ride the bike while reading the paper and then hit the steam room and call it a day, I ask myself one question. Would the Boss pedal a bike like Dorothy with Toto in the basket or would he hit the treadmill at a 15% grade then throw iron like a mofo? I think we know what he’d do. Next thing you know I’m strutting across the gym, envisioning 60,000 people screaming Paaaaaaaaaaaaaaam as I make the thigh abductor my bitch.

At any given time I am a rock star, a president, a somewhat demure woman who…oh, hell. Who am I kidding with that last one? Point is, we are multidimensional beings with a host of qualities, traits and personalities from which to draw at various intervals in our lives. I see nothing wrong with channeling Princess Kate when meeting the boyfriend’s parents the first time, and conversely imagining oneself to be Angela Merkel when a male coworker tells you to fetch him coffee.

It is not disingenuous or inauthentic to call upon the things inside of us that give us strength. Shying away, giving up, saying no to an opportunity would be the real betrayal. Just be yourself? Okay, just make sure you’ve got lots of friends in there with you.


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Bob Dylan, Sister Edith, a Bunsen Burner and Me

Pam in biology lab

In high school I fancied myself a deep, soulful sort of loner with one or two close friends other than Bob Dylan, Rimbaud, Ezra Pound, Lou Reed and all of Monty Python. I didn’t participate in school sanctioned extracurricular activities. I went to zero proms (holding out for Dylan to say yes when I wrote to ask him each year), no athletic meets and not a single field trip other than junior year when our athletic director mistakenly thought I was an 18 year old senior with a responsible bone in my body and I went along to Germany, Austria and France as a chaperone for the French class. I saw the girls when we boarded the plane in Chicago, and then again at DeGaulle when we boarded for the return flight. My chaperonin’ philosophy was pretty much, “y’all be careful,” and off I went to explore the boys of Europe on my own.

The only après school events I really enjoyed were the father-daughter dinner dances. I went to an all girl Catholic high school, so the father-daughter soirees consisted of about 500 girls and 500 dads. I’d wait until cocktail hour was in full swing, then I’d go to the center of the room and shout, “Dad!” Every man in the place whipped around, hundreds of brandy old fashioneds sloshing out of their glasses. Good times.

My bestie, Marjy, and I would cut class and practice our guitars in the school’s stairwells where the acoustics were excellent. We also switched places in art and typing class. (A typewriter is an ancient mechanical or electromechanical machine for writing characters similar to those produced by printer’s movable type.) Marjy was fleet of finger and earned me an A in typing. I could throw a decent pot. It was win-win.

It was also nothing short of a miracle that we weren’t found out, as Marjy’s mom was the biology teacher (which did not benefit me in any way). When a Bunsen burner mishap set off a chain reaction, I was not given any special dispensation because of my personal proximity to the teacher’s daughter. I may have been reprimanded by the authorities, but I never got in trouble with my parents because we lived in the country, with a different area code than the school’s, which in the days of typewriters meant it was something called “long distance” to phone out of your area. The school wasn’t about to spend money just to tell my mom I’d cut a class, switched identities or burned up the biology lab. Again, good times.

I remember fondly the girls with whom I went to high school—a mostly cheery bunch of people who participated in and very much seemed to enjoy all the things that I did not. While I eschewed make up and pretty clothes, favoring instead the messy hair and grungy leather of Patti Smith, I often marveled at how grown up the other girls seemed. I was a skinny, unkempt poetry-obsessed rube in the midst of athletes, ballerinas, elegant swans and girls with a plan for the future—or so it seemed to me.

Looking back, I doubt they all had the future pegged, and even those who did have probably been at turns surprised, thrilled, disappointed and perhaps shocked by the way in which life has ultimately shaken out. The universe has a capricious way of lobbing curve balls in every direction, regardless of what we’ve planned.

So when there was a charity dinner to celebrate the school’s 125th anniversary last weekend, and a former classmate invited me to join others from our graduating class at a table, I thought, why not? It would be lovely to spend an evening with cheery, elegant swans. I had no expectation of what conversation would be like, or even whether I’d recognize anyone. I slipped into my leather pants and high heels, made my hair look as presentable as it gets, and I hoped someone would remember me as being a good egg, not just a surly poetry-writing arsonist.

I arrived earlier than any of my classmates, and was stunned when a small gaggle of elderly nuns surrounded me. I’d have known them anywhere, but why did they remember me? This couldn’t be good.

“Pam Ferderbar!” they chirped. “Are you still writing? Tell us everything!” Oh my. Their recollections of me were positive, ebullient, complimentary and so so sweet. They recalled the writing awards I’d won that I had long since forgotten—those otherwise meaningless accolades that made me want to work harder at placing the right words in the right order. To them I wasn’t a misfit. I was an author in the making. We exchanged warm embraces, old stories and a genuine fondness for “the good old days.”

At our table, I immediately recognized each girl/woman. I’d have known them anywhere. I envisioned each in the school uniform, walking toward her locker, sitting across from me in Mrs. Zagar’s class, or Sister Edith’s, or Mr. Teppler’s. I could recall how they fared scholastically, socially and athletically. I remembered whether they had sisters in school, who sat with whom at lunch, and who always smiled at me in the hallways.

Our conversation was warm and personal, washing away the years since we were girls together. Now women—some with children, some without—some married, divorced, widowed—all civic-minded, hard working, generous and kind, there was nowhere I would rather have been than at that table.

A friend recently told me that as we grow older we don’t change. We become more entrenched in whom we’ve always been. The grade school bully becomes the jerk down the block who yells at kids for stepping on his lawn. The young co-worker who throws people under the bus when she makes a mistake becomes the old crank whose kids never visit her in the nursing home where the other residents hide her walker.

The girls who were kind and generous, funny and bright, witty and optimistic in high school have become polished and gently worn versions of their younger selves. It was a privilege and an honor to sit with them. (Thank you Mary, Laurie, Meg and Chris.)


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Searching for a Sign

Bowl of hot chili with beans and cracker. Isolated on white background with clipping path.

My friend Moira told me that the other day, while she was stuck in traffic on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles, she glanced over to the side of the road as a bush suddenly burst into flames. “God?” she wondered aloud. “Is this a sign?”

When I mentioned this to my friend Tom Jordan, he asked whether Moira had considered all the other people in their cars, and that perhaps, if the burning bush was a sign from above, it was intended for someone else. “Maybe it was directed at the guy levitating out of his Prius,” Tom speculated.

I did a little research and it turns out shrubbery spontaneously combusts every other day. Especially in arid climates, like say, the general Egypt area and L.A., roadside conflagrations are pretty common. Are these simple acts of nature that we humanize to fit our needs and our agenda, or is someone really trying to tell us something?

My novel Feng Shui and Charlotte Nightingale is based almost entirely on this premise. Is it feng shui that changes Charlotte life, or does the belief in feng shui cause people to behave differently, which sets off Charlotte’s transformation?

I have days when I feel pretty and days when I am pretty sure it looks like I’ve spent the night in a swamp, wrestling alligators. I don’t know about you, but on the alligator days I’m not feeling it, and that seems to be reflected back to me in the form of people covering their eyes and hurrying in the opposite direction, and in a slightly gentler guise when I’m told I look tired and should have a nap.

But the occasions when my hair has cooperated, I’ve been to the gym twice in three months and I am wearing something from a hanger, and not sweats, good things happen to me. People smile and do not swing the stroller around to face the other way. Menfolk openly admire my clavicle, which I am told is my most alluring feature. I get my picture taken at the DMV and it does not resemble a mug shot.

Do I believe my adult “hung up” clothes and beachy brunette waves are magic? Or maybe I’m feeling a little better for having made an effort, and am therefore exuding the sweet pheromones of self-confidence—a kind of magic. When I groan, “Oh god, are you serious?” upon peering into the mirror first thing in the morning as I brush my teeth, and the entire medicine cabinet falls off the wall and shatters over the sink, is this god’s answer to me? And if so, what is she saying?

After my mom passed away in October, my dad and I wanted to se sure to watch for a sign from her on January 12th, which would have been my mom’s 90th birthday. My best girlfriends from L.A. (I wanted to type ‘my L.A. squad,’ but my age just wouldn’t let me) were in town and staying at the house. My cousins and their kids came for dinner. There was a full moon.

It seemed like the big beautiful family dinner that was peppered with laughter, heartfelt toasts and a strong sense of purpose was a sign from my mom. Everyone felt her presence—as if just past our sight, at the far, far end of the table she sat with a glass of wine, smiling that smile, laughing along, surrounded by loving family.

A few days later, when the friends had returned to Cali and things were kind of ishly back to normal, my pops contracted the ugliest upper respiratory bug ever and it knocked him on his keester. Just moments before he hacked up his left lung, we had been talking about the time my mom nearly killed my dad with her chili.

It may have been in the freezer for 10 or 12 years—there was no way to know, but my mom assumed the best, heated it up and fed it to my dad. Full disclosure; my mom also had the chili and it did not nearly kill her at all. (Pops and I figure she unwittingly ate around the botulism, or whatever scourge comes from ancient chili, and was thus spared the near-death experience he enjoyed.)

Dad had to go to the hospital in an ambulance. When the EMTs arrived they asked when the projectile vomiting had begun. My dad said, “Right after I ate the chili,” at the exact same moment as my mom said, “It was not the chili.” The same conversation was repeated at the hospital as they prepared to pump my dad’s stomach, only this time around my mom was getting steamed. She ate the chili. She wasn’t going Exorcist all over the walls. It was not the damn chili!

This story was often a favorite when the topic of cooking mishaps would arise at parties, family gatherings and once at a wedding when the groom starting puking on the altar. My dad asked my mom, quietly, under his breath of course, whether she had heated up some chili for him. Turns out the bachelor party was the night before the wedding, so not the chili, but the question antagonized my mom to no end.

Just hours before my dad hacked up that left lung at the onset of the upper respiratory thing, we were reminiscing about the time my mom nearly killed my dad with her chili, and we recalled how much she hated that story. I believe my pops starting choking right about that time, and we both looked at the portrait of my mom hanging on the living room wall, and said, “No, she wouldn’t. Would she?”

If we wanted to, every single event every single minute of every single day could be construed as a sign from someone about something. Personally, I don’t look for signs anymore, but I find ways to feel connected to people that went before, and concepts that are much greater than my puny little mind can comprehend.

Just this morning I held my mom’s watch, thinking about how she would wrap the band around her slender wrist then do up the clasp in the back. My hands are nothing like hers. I feel like her presence is slowly but surely slipping away.

I looked around, hoping to find something I could hold that would conjure her, make me feel like she wasn’t so completely gone. Then it occurred to me that the thing her hand was most evident in, was me. Is that magic, or what?

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Why Can’t We Just Get Along?

studio shot of a man wearing sandals with socks and having hairy legs, isolated on white.

The Flip or Flop television personalities have folded up their quartz countertop marriage. Kyrie Irving believes the world is flat even though he makes a living with an earth-shaped sphere. Kim Jong-omfg is over there making a clatter with his missiles and the good people of Flint are being poisoned by their own drinking water.

And now they’re passing pants laws. Seriously. Pants. Laws. The people who believe it should be illegal for a male person to wear sagging pants below their buttock area outnumber people with common sense in communities, townships cities and states all across America. In Florida, New Jersey, South Carolina and the entirety of Louisiana, “It is illegal to appear in a public place with pants that are ‘below the waist’ or which expose the ‘skin’ below the waist, or ‘undergarments.’”

Ironically, this is the same crowd who want to ban the burka, creating a mysterious apparel zone in which we are just the right amount covered up and exposed. I believe strippers, women under the age of 22 who are at the beach sporting dental floss between their butt cheeks and NFL cheerleaders are exempt from wardrobe adjudication. (And wives, if she is the current FLOTUS or Carmen Elektra.)

If you think you have special dispensation in $300 Citizens for Humanity jeans you’d be wrong, and in Ocala, Florida it will cost you an extra $500 to walk around holding your pantaloons up by the crotch. (I don’t think anyone finds this a good look, but combined with the pimp walk it exhibits a certain street je ne sais quoi.)

Wear your 7s slung low and you may also find yourself in jail. That’s right. Jail. No one threw Pamela Anderson in the clink when she flashed a bedazzled thong for 20+ years, or Britney, who flaunts the wearing of undergarments altogether, or Gaga, who took to the streets adorned in nothing but filet mignon. But step out looking like Lil Wayne and in Simmonsville, South Carolina you will find yourself eating bologna sandwiches in a cell with a guy named Deathtrap.

Contrary to urban myth, saggin’ did not originate in prison, erroneously believed to signify the sexual availability of an inmate. Turns out inmates are not chosen for a romp based on a quaint “signal system” anymore than they are asked how they like their steaks cooked. (If there’s a pun in there, let’s say it was intended.)

People are so het up about pants that they’re posting “surveys” on Facebook.
Screenshot 2017-03-11 11.55.41
No way the Mrs. Kravitzes of Bewitched and Bewilderedville post this photo expecting anyone to respond, “Of course not, you stupid cow.” (Which is exactly 100% what I answer, ‘cept I pepper the sentence with a string of cuss words I’ve arranged especially for the occasion.)

Young people have always expressed a divergent view of society’s rules and regs, reveling in dissatisfaction (I Can’t Get No), dystopia, disdain and pretty much every other dis since the first caveteen turned his pelt around, fur side in. To the elder cavepeople it appeared as though Grunty Jr. had rejected the cultural codes of his small tribe. In reality, it just felt nice to have the soft fur against his prehistoric pee-pee, which was subject to terrible chafing when the woolly mammoth hide was worn “correctly”—rough side in. (After fire, the reverse loincloth became the most popular caveman invention until the TV remote.)

Whatever the kid’s reasoning, it freaked the cave-elders out, but they let it go because they knew so wisely that Grunty was in fact a caveteen, and that is just how kids roll. (They drew the line, however, at ass-less loincloths. It wasn’t until 1991 that Prince re-introduced the look, and rocked it, I might add.)

Historically, apoplexy over fashion statements is no laughing matter. In the early 1940s, poor young people, mostly black and Hispanic, bought thrift shop suits, which were generally big and baggy. Their moms tapered the pant legs, an easy fix, and the zoot suit was invented. The look caught fire when black jazz musicians who traversed the country adopted it, and it became synonymous with rebellion, jazz, premarital sex, dancing and a lot of other popular vices thought to be the domain of hooligans and thugs. Naturally, the style, attitude and culture the clothing represented appealed to white middle class youths, throwing authority figures everywhere into a state of moral indignation (and even some seizures) exactly as hip hop has done.

In June, 1943, known as the Zoot Suit Riots, that moral outrage over clothing exploded into violence in Los Angeles when bands of white servicemen—joined by hundreds of police officers—left their posts to search for young black and Mexican-American men wearing zoot suits. People were pulled from streetcars and beaten by crowds of “moral Americans.” Kids were bludgeoned in the streets. Young men wearing zoot suits were stripped by sailors and LAPD, their suits set ablaze in the streets. It went on for more than four days.

Just a decade later James Dean would rattle the righteous with his style; leather jacket, tight white t-shirt and an irresistibly sexy establishment-deriding sneer. Dean was gangsta for his time—the embodiment of teenage disillusionment and social estrangement—the fliest of the fly.

Hippies with long hair and ripped jeans drove “decent folk” to distraction for two decades before Madonna strapped on a cone bra and pointed it our heads. Young people have always embraced new opportunities to break with the past and forge ahead in ridiculous get-ups. I once had bright orange hair (I argued at the time it was a rich blonde, but it glowed like Mars), which caused my dad to introduce me to people as his daughter Blappo at my cousin Phil’s wedding. The stupid thing is, the more my folks told me it was hideous and grotesque (their actual words) the more convinced I was that it was cool, and I walked around looking as though I’d misplaced my big shoes and squirting lapel flower.

If we allow civic leaders and other crazy people to legislate the personal appearance of male citizens as it pertains to sagging pants, where will the selection process end? Might a fashion forward assemblywoman not propose a public flogging for men who wear socks with sandals?

We gotta learn how to get along; saggers and momjeans, Republicans and Democrats, Kim Kardashian and Taylor Swift. If we wish to exhibit tolerance and some degree of focus on stuff that is actually important, then let’s let young people wear whatever crazy shit they want—not throw them in jail or fine them because it hurts our eyes to look at them. The solution is so simple it’s stupid; look away.

Think back to your teens and 20s and tell me there isn’t a photo somewhere in your past that you’d like to burn because you look like an idiot.

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My cousin Colleen is a clipster. She cuts, copies, collates and sends me really great articles lovingly placed in envelopes sealed with dog faces, flowers and recently, stickers from the Charles Darwin collection. Her dad, my Uncle Bob, was a consummate article sender who found great joy in embellishing his envelopes with big bold writing, “RUN MAILMAN RUN!” “PLANET EARTH!” “WRITE WHEN YOU FIND WORK!”

There is something wonderful about receiving snail mail other than bills, Chinese food menus and charity appeals accompanied by nickels glued so thoroughly to the letters that they take half an hour to dislodge (apparently the Little Sisters of Mayhem figured out that people just weren’t going to work that hard for a penny anymore). Yesterday the March of Dimes sent me a quarter. wtf?

I recently received an article from Colleen originally published in 2013 in The Atlantica piece on Viktor Frankl, the Viennese psychiatrist and holocaust survivor who, in 1946, wrote the bestselling book, “Man’s Search for Meaning.”

Frankl lost his pregnant wife, parents and most of his family in the Nazi concentration camps. In the midst of unimaginable suffering, loss and horror, he concluded that the difference between life and death came down to one thing—finding meaning in life. According to Frankl, the way a prisoner imagined the future affected his longevity. Those who were able to find meaning and purpose, even in the direst circumstances, survived, the idea being if we can determine the “why” for our existence, we can bear almost any “how.”

A study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology in 2013 expanded on Frankl’s philosophy, concluding that having negative things happen to us decreases our happiness, but increases the amount of meaning we find in life and it is the pursuit of meaning that separates humans from animals. By giving rather than taking, we are not only expressing our fundamental humanity, but are also acknowledging that there is more to the good life than the pursuit of simple happiness.

But what is the difference between meaningfulness and happiness? Frankl’s firsthand experience helps answer the question. With the rise and threat of the Nazis looming over him, Frankl had applied for a visa to America, which he was granted in 1941. By then, the Nazis had already started rounding up the Jews and taking them away to concentration camps, focusing on the elderly first.

Frankl knew it was only a matter of time before the Nazis came to take his parents away. He also felt a responsibility to be there with his parents to help them through the trauma of adjusting to camp life.  At the same time, he could take his pregnant wife and leave for America where they would be safe, and he could pursue his profession.

At a loss for what to do, he went into a cathedral to clear his head. “Should I leave my parents behind”…”Should I say goodbye and leave them to their fate?” Where did his responsibility lie? Frankl was looking for a “hint from heaven.”

When he returned home he found a piece of marble lying on the table—rubble from one of the synagogues the Nazis had destroyed. It contained a fragment of one of the Ten Commandments—the one about honoring your mother and father. With that, Frankl decided to stay in Vienna. He put aside his individual pursuits to serve his family and other prisoners. Frankl did not find happiness in Auschwitz. He lost everyone he had loved. But his life there had tremendous purpose and meaning in the service of others.

The epiphany that meaningfulness had more gravity and value than happiness lead Frankl to write Man’s Search for Meaning in only nine days. Frankl’s book has sold over 10,000,000 copies and the Library of Congress calls it one of the ten most influential books in the United States. What power, grace, vision and clarity come from the pursuit of meaning—of purpose rather than the accumulation of material things and happy experiences.

The 2013 Positive Psychology study found that leading a happy life is associated with being a “taker,” while leading a meaningful life corresponds with being a “giver,” and in the end, people derive much greater satisfaction in life from the latter, which Frankl’s experience certainly supports.

Literally, it is better to give than to receive—and evolution is the reason. If I have a desire, such as for a burger, I satisfy it, which makes me happy. Ergo, I am happy when I get what I want. So is my dog. What (hopefully) sets me apart from my dog is not the pursuit of happiness, which occurs all across the natural world, but the pursuit of meaning.

Happiness is fleeting. We want something, we get it, we are happy—for the moment. Then we want something else, whereas purpose and meaning stick to the ribs. I think we’ve all been in that headspace where we think ‘if I were just thinner, richer, more popular, I’d be happy,’ and that may well be true. But we are not animals and happiness is not a fulfilling human endgame. To live full complex human lives our psyches hunger for something deeper—that we be givers rather than takers.

At this moment in our American story there are forces attempting to misdirect us to a new definition of the “pursuit of happiness”—a rendition that tells us it is better to take than to give. We are taught as children of all faiths and cultures that we should aspire to live by the golden rule, which is the principle of treating others as one would wish to be treated. Right now the altruistic is being replaced by the selfish, and more often than not when we read between the lines, what we are being told is that it’s every man for himself, grab what you can and whatever is left will trickle down to those less aggressive, less able, less fortunate.

The people whose lives are meaningful and fulfilled know the truth. The less fortunate are the takers.

“Being human always points, and is directed, to something or someone, other than oneself—be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter. The more one forgets himself—by giving himself to a cause or serve another person to love—the more human he is.” Viktor Frankl, 1946

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