I watch very little television; but when Amazon previewed an episode, I was instantly hooked on Chuck, NBC’s action/comedy/satire series. One character in the series is Morgan Grimes. Morgan is a slacker, around 30, who works in a Buy More (a parody of Best Buy). In the most recent episode, Anna, Morgan’s girlfriend, asks him if he has any dreams and goals beyond working at the Buy More. After making Anna promise not to laugh, Morgan reveals his dream: He wants to be a “Benihana chef in Hawaii.” Then he quickly explains why his dream is not practical: “I’m way past my prime. I’m not Asian. And I don’t even know where to get the knives.”
I laughed, but not at Morgan. Morgan was simply articulating the human condition—we all make up absurd excuses for not following our dream. Vincent Van Gogh provided the antidote to this state of being when he said: “If you hear a voice within you saying, ‘You are not a painter,’ then by all means paint… and that voice will be silenced.”
Van Gogh is teaching us that we must not wait until the negative voice goes away before we follow our dream. Waiting is not a strategy for success. The voice will never go away, but it can fade away.
Every human being has two voices within. We are most familiar with the voice of our ego. The voice of the ego evaluates everything as for us or against us. It is the part of our mind that trys to control everything. In her book Soul-Kissed, Ann Linthorst helps us to understand that our ego defines itself based on separation:
Human identity is a sense of personhood, which is established by separation, location and limitation. Ask yourself who you are, and the details that come to mind will all be statements of location and limitation: “I am male or female, born there, to that father and mother, living here, in this house, with these people, doing this, having that.” This kind of self-identification, which I call “ego” automatically excludes all other possibilities. Being here we cannot be anywhere else. Having what we have and doing what we do means that we don’t have or do other things. Personal identity is determined precisely by separation, location, and distinction from others. I know that I am… by the differences that distinguish and separate us.
Initially, Morgan is certain of his lack and limitation; he knows why he can’t be a Benihana chef. By the end of the episode, he is trying to get back in touch with the other voice within—his True Self. The True Self in each of us is that part of the mind which is connected to the Love and Intelligence of the Universe.
Has the ego’s voice of doubt left Morgan for good? Of course not. Both voices—ego and True Self—will exist in each of us until we die. However, whatever voice we choose to listen to at this moment, we will strengthen. Steve Chandler wrote recently of that voice that Van Gogh speaks of:
The voice says, “Oh, my gosh, this would be so scary, and I dread this and don’t do this and don’t try that.” It’s a voice that tries to keep the organism safe, but it’s not really safe to be safe. It’s the opposite of safe. People trying to stay safe, aren’t creating the world that they really want; and they’re not learning to be fearless. They are actually learning to be scared. Training themselves to accommodate fear. Ongoing fear.
In other words, following the choice of our ego is a sad bargain—like alcohol, it buys us only temporary relief from the human condition at the price of reinforcing our weakness. My elderly aunt checks her blood pressure constantly throughout the day. She gets alarmed with each high reading; but perversely, she seems reassured that her definition of herself is intact.
Her blood pressure reading has become her God. In her own way, she has been teaching me. What dream of lack and limitation am I monitoring—and thus worshiping—all day? The disinfectant is simply to be aware of what our ego is worshiping. This awareness is cleansing—but only when it is done free of judgment.
We are all Morgan. Now, more than ever, our world needs us to pivot towards the dreams of our True Self.