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When I was growing up, my parents and I knew a brilliant therapist. He was a friend of a friend, and he was admired throughout our community for his work helping children, couples, and families.

Because I got interested in psychology early in my life, I started reading his books and articles when I was a teenager. As I grew up, he grew more and more famous and I absolutely could understand why – his ideas were original, resonant and wise.

Then one day, something shocking happened: he abruptly walked out on his wife and two children, wounding all of them terribly.

For years I wondered: how in the world could someone who knew so much about love, about relationships, about families – do what he did?

What did it mean that there was such an extreme conflict between his work and his actions?

He was one of my first fallen heroes.

Years later, I noticed a pattern that reminded me of him. Again and again, I’d read a great novel, a magnificent work of art that conveyed profound wisdom about the human experience. Then I’d listen to interviews with the author, and when the interviewer would ask the author what their book was fundamentally about – the lessons they hoped to teach – the author would have almost nothing to say. It was obvious that the author couldn’t articulate the wisdom that their work articulated. They couldn’t even come close.

Not only that, but often, as they talked about their own choices and personal dramas, it became very clear: like that family therapist, they certainly weren’t living out the wisdom contained in their books in their own relationships.

Then came other disillusionments for me: learning that some civil rights leaders I admired didn’t apply their own ideas about justice and equity to a group I was part of: women. Or spiritual teachers whose work I loved – whose teachings had genuinely helped me develop my own connection to the divine – were being sent to rehab or exposed in a sex scandal.

Again and again the truth was clear: a huge gap, maybe even a blazing conflict, often stands between the lives people lead and the truths they speak about.

For the audience, that can feel hypocritical, like a painful betrayal. And perhaps worse, it can leave us disillusioned not just about the hero but also about the ideals that he or she seemed to stand for.

But we only end up feeling this way if we interpret the gap between someone’s walk and their talk as a reflection of duplicity or phoniness. It feels like a betrayal if we think the talk is trustworthy only if backed up by the walk.

Yet the closer I’ve gotten to these kinds of individuals, the more up close I’ve experienced both their work and their personal lives, the more I’ve come to conclude that duplicity is very rarely at the root of the gap between their message and their actions.

Yes, we’ve all encountered the charlatans and the manipulators, who promulgate a message they don’t believe but that they know people want to hear. That’s the very dark side of this, and it needs to be called out more, for sure.

We’ve also all witnessed public figures abusing power, whose misdeeds involve corruption, or cause harm to those they should be responsibly employing or working in service to. They need to be held accountable.

But the piece I want to talk about today is not that, but rather how we hold it when our heroes don’t live up to their message. And I particularly want to talk about the creatives we admire and put on a pedestal: the artists, writers, personal growth teachers, and other thought leaders.

Here’s what I’ve learned: their brilliant work does not exactly come from them.

It does not come from their limited, ego personalities.

Rather, the work comes through them, from something larger and better and brighter – collective intelligence or the creative spirit or the Truth – whatever you want to name it. Their creative contribution is not born of their minds and hearts, but it has chosen them to be its conduit.

That message combines with some talent – they are phenomenal writers, or storytellers, or speakers – and the message plus their talent at delivering it makes their work particularly potent.

That’s worth repeating: it’s the message that comes through them – plus their talent, their craft, in delivering it – that makes their work stand out. It is not about their superiority in any other way.

Their work is totally authentic, but their personality is not caught up with it yet.

I believe this is in fact true for all of us doing creative work. Our work may be informed by our life experience, and it absolutely has some relationship to who we are, but the flow of our ideas does not come from our everyday, limited, egoic selves.

Where we get into trouble (and I see many of us getting into this trouble with our heroes and sheroes today): we confuse admiring the work with admiring the person.

I would ask you to clarify the distinction for yourself. If you love someone’s message, love their message. Love their books, their ideas, their speeches and TED talks – and even love the spirit and style they deliver them in. But please don’t put them on a pedestal. Don’t assume their behavior will always be aligned with their mission; the two things literally stem from different parts of them. And don’t think you have to find a way to love all their personal decisions because you love their work.

In fact, they were probably assigned to be a conduit for the particular message they are delivering precisely because they are not living it easily or consistently.

Their message is there to be their teacher, as much it is is there to be yours.

That is why so often the conflict between their message and their lives will be so glaring.

Thinking about it in this way entails letting go of a certain kind of hero-worship. But I believe recognizing this truth is in no way “settling.” It’s freedom from assuming others have it all together. It’s your invitation to put a message, a body of work – not a person – on a pedestal.

So what about the place of heroes, of role models for us? For me personally, admiration is always about something – some quality, some act. I admire the courage I see my dear friend having as she works to repair deep issues in her marriage. I admire the spiritual connection I watch another friend maintaining each day as she faces the tough health issues of her child. I admire the creative freedom I see in one of my favorite authors. I admire the bouncing back from failure I’ve watched in another.

As a result, I have a world full of people each inspiring me in different ways, modeling different qualities I seek to move more and more into. But I have asked no one to represent some total package. And when someone acts in conflict with their message, I do not feel betrayed.

Instead it reminds me of the shared humanness of all of us, the walls we each come up against in ourselves. And it makes me marvel at the mystery of how the messages we are asked to share for the benefit of others come also to teach us what we ourselves need to learn.

With love,

Tara

 

photo credit: Jonathan Pielmayer

Join the discussion 52 Comments

  • Janet Jacobs says:

    What great writing about a complicated issue. Takes me back to your message about unplugging from praise.
    We just are who we are, and we all do the best we can.
    If we stay in our own realities – do our work and live our love – rather than raising ourselves up too high, then maybe we are less likely to raise others up on a pedestal. And vice versa.
    Thanks for the grounding message, again!

  • M Penna says:

    Your message was very eye opening to me with struggles I have while choosing elected officials during this time. It made me take a step back and look at the candidates without letting all the personal reporting be emphasized and look at the message and works I agree with and hope for. Thank you.

  • Holly LaBarbera says:

    Beautiful thoughts and delivery. This so resonates with me!

  • Michele says:

    I really appreciate this message. Understanding that we can be a portal through which genius flows is inspiring to me as person. That idea frees me of the feeling that I might be a fraud, that I am not not yet the perfect version of myself. None of us are. That doesn’t mean we can’t do brilliant work.

  • Beautiful clarification, Tara. I understood all of the moving parts… but had not yet put them all together in this way.
    Thank you! Thank you!

  • Wow. Excellent piece and a positive, healthy way of looking at the work of those who inspire us and share great messages both for our learning and our growth, while keeping separate those individuals as ‘people’ sometimes with only a mere gifted ability on delivering valuable messages.

  • Miranda says:

    This is such a wonderful way of thinking about this! Thank you!

  • Jill says:

    One part of the disappointment is truly regarding the person “letting us down” by not living the path as we might’ve hoped. Another part, though, is realizing that the human condition of missteps, mistakes and misjudgment is not wholly resolved or “cured” by the lessons they are offering. If it did, the person wouldn’t remain so flawed!

    We all share this humanness, so maybe there is also the understanding to let ourselves off the perfection hook of attempting to be like so-and-so. If we can forgive ourselves for our frailties, maybe we can better sympathize with everyone else’s.

  • Peg says:

    Thank you Tara. I don’t always read all my emails like this but for some reason felt compelled today. I think you’ve shined some light on something for me today and I appreciate your sharing and lovely words.

  • Irenie says:

    THANK YOU Tara! Articulating this concept has been in the forefront of my mind recently. The media reporting of scandals seems determined to take all of our “heroes” and discredit their ideas by showing their personal flaws. It is time to make the idea the hero instead.

  • Sue Hanson says:

    Your piece is truly a clarification of the frailty of the human spirit, Tara and so very true. I do truly believe that we are able to envision and project messages which are bigger than we are. And that the messages are a hope or aspiration for the writer rather than their own reality. Thank you.

  • Donna Davis says:

    Hello Tara:

    This is a very fine, contemplative message.

    Still, I wish to turn your thesis “inside-out,” after a fashion.

    If we separate inspired teachings, literature, and art from their all-too-human sources, we risk devaluing the living reality of human beings. We unintentionally cast the creators in the subsidiary role of agents or channels or servants of the Ideal, the Divine, the Universe, the Collective Unconscious–in whatever terms we try to name those infinite forces of goodness, truth, and beauty.

    For example: Are the many little-known human lives lost expediently to terrorist violence worth less than the “irreplaceable” archaeological and artistic heritage lost when a insensate monument is destroyed for ideological reasons? Yet is the international outcry for the rescue of these objects not greater and more powerfully motivated?

    Of course, this reduces to the old moral problem of the art gallery on fire; would we choose to save first the visitors or the art? Someone proposed that the choice was unnecessary, that each survivor could carry out a work of art and both would be saved. But this is really just a variation on the “messenger” thesis.

    Personally I find myself on both sides of this issue. I often sell books I obtain free or at little cost in order to cover basic expenses. Often I am vilified: “She doesn’t read the books, she just sells them!” Well, of course I read, and love books, but is my physical human need for food, for example, less worthy of honour than a paperback copy of a Dickens or Rowling?

    However, I’m also a visual artist, and in the dark moments when I do feel worthless and useless to the community, I can fall back on my creative gifts as a calling from a Greater Creator to justify my existence. Unfortunately, that is about one’s pride in striking a bargain…faith in unconditional love would tell me I have asked nothing nor has life asked anything of me, and those so-called gifts aren’t mine to give or even define,anyway.

    Shifting our focus from personal hero worship to the creative vessel, doesn’t rid us of the idolatry that denies basic human dignity and need, and defiles mortal embodiment with prideful sacrifice and penance.

    Were it not for envy, that builds up and tears down incessantly, perhaps life would be enough. Enough.

  • Jennifer says:

    Thank you Tara, this is a synchronistic post since my ‘flawed hero’ wounds are from one person directly active in civil rights and another in TED. It is helpful to read your perspective. Alas my heart has not caught up with the good idea you offer. It still wants them to get commupance due…

  • Monique says:

    Hi Tara, I do not agree. The work comes from the person as a whole. Just channelling the best is nice perhaps, but not honest, not real. Your work can never be better than the best in yourself.
    Look at your own expectations and level of self-acceptance, and you will find the key much sooner. We all have greatness and not-so-greatness in us. When you accept that of yourself, you accept that more in others. You will SEE others better and save yourself a lot of disappointment, as your idealization was just that in the first place; idealization and not a true picture.

  • Kristi says:

    I think we often hold those who inspire us to a higher standard. We idealize them as if they were god-like and think that this piece of them that is so incredible and inspiring must mean that the whole person is like that. That the one piece represents the whole. But we’re not made that way. We forget that they’re as human as the rest of us — and that is what is disappointing. I think we WANT someone to be perfect because we are so disappointed in our own imperfections. We want to believe that “perfection” is possible and we want to see it out there. We want to forget that everyone is “just” human.

    It can feel almost crushing when someone falls off the pedestal. How can that not taint how we see that person and their body of work from then on? Look at Bill Cosby. I personally find it really hard to continue to appreciate someone’s brilliance when they have such a dark shadow side. And yet we all have this shadow. We all have light and dark within us — genius and brilliance along with sometimes great darkness. Maybe we are so disappointed in others’ shadows because we are so disappointed in our own. It’s HARD to deal with the shadow. We don’t want to accept it. But it’s part of who we are and what we’re here to work with. So ultimately it’s about accepting the dark with the light, in us and in everyone else.

  • Lisa Princic says:

    I love this because it also reminds us that we all have something to teach. Our heroes may be gifted in some areas but not in all and that’s where others can show up and give our own gifts, even to those we admire.
    Timely for me as I was listening to a mentor on a podcast yesterday because I am going to be interviewed on that same podcast and was feeling totally overwhelmed at how poignant and brilliant she sounded. I don’t normally compare but as I put myself more and more out of my comfort zone in my business, unexpected things come up.

  • Maryna says:

    Tara, this is the defining issue of our time in my mind. I appreciate your sharing and contemplation on the subject. My own journey through this maze of worship and betrayal has profoundly reorganized my heart and mind. I have thought deeply on the subject and would like to gently point out a blindspot in your analysis.

    Artists create out of their imaginations with the help of muses and unseen forces, this is not in dispute. Audiences know that their work is part real, part fantasy. We may feel disappointed by their human failings, but not often betrayed. The dynamics between teacher/healer/preacher and audience/follower is completely different. Trust is the glue, not fantasy. I believe it is a disservice to the subject to conflate the relationship humans have to art and to healers.

    The incident you describe in your own life is a vivid example of this. The psychological and emotional damage done to the family of the psychologist is severe. His betrayal was complete and should not be glossed over in the name some sort of romantic notion of art making.

    I am not surprised you are having discussions about fallen heroes in your circle. This is a conversation very much in our collective that is playing out in numerous spheres. My own observation is that this conversation is particularly dominate in the “new age/self-help” field, which has become saturated in capitalism, not healing. The number of scandals, betrayals and scams are too many to mention.

    The question we should be diving into is why the industry has allowed so many charismatic people with a “divine message” to flourish, without having the responsibility of walking their talk? I believe that the mantra of “don’t be judgmental” that is so pervasion in the field has created a sort of “Stockholm Syndrome”. Critical thinking and discernment are needed for well-being. Discouraging someone from listening to their gut or feeling anger towards a “hero” reinforces the view that living with integrity is less important than being a container for divine inspiration.

  • Claire Jones says:

    This was great timing for me. I tend to put my heroes on pedestals and then get upset if they veer from their message in any shape or form… but they’re only human (and that’s what humans DO!)

    I also needed to hear this for myself – I run workshops on positivity and if I find myself having a bad or down day (which happens, I’m not supergirl 😉 ), I’ve beaten myself up about it in the past. But this helps to make sense of it – my message is different from me/my ego… and it’s a message I’m learning as well as teaching!

    Thanks for a great and helpful read. Your words always make me feel inspired and reassured 🙂

  • A beautiful post, thank you!

  • Meri says:

    Tara: I so appreciate your words–you have articulated how the divine can flow through flawed people to inspire us all. Moreover, you have also sparked the conversation on this page, which I appreciate so much–the distinction between healer and artist, wherein the former requires trust; “accepting the dark with the light, in us and in everyone else”; the need to move beyond our own awareness of our imperfections to continue to put good out Into the world; and the important struggle for integrity. Thank you!

  • Jeania says:

    Beautifully said. You put into words what I’ve known and done intuitively. Having the words with the intuition is empowering. Thank you.

  • Sallie says:

    Good advice very well expressed. Thanks very much.

  • Maryna says:

    Our society is coming to grips with the pervasiveness of gaslighting from those that have abused their power, whether political, spiritual or personal. Healing from gaslighting requires naming the underlying emotion and identifying the betrayal. There is plenty of spiritual bullying in the self-help movement that needs to be cleaned up. I hope you post is a start of a deeper conversation.

  • Eleanor Bell says:

    Wonderful and very helpful reflection. It helps remind me that I need to take responsibility for my own experience and learning.

  • JJ says:

    I just love this. You brought me back to a time when my marriage went to pieces and my best of friends expressed absolute disappointment in me and anger because they thought I had betrayed them! When I asked why, they said it was because I always seemed so happy when in fact I must have been very unhappy. I tried to tell them that when I did see them, I was happy – happy to be with them, the children, my life in general and it didn’t mean that there weren’t areas of my life that were less than happy making and that I simply can be happy even if things aren’t perfect. They could not understand what I was telling them and seem unable to do so to this day. It didn’t make my ability to be happy in less then perfect circumstances any less real…..it is a truth that is possible even if I myself am less than perfect. We are all of us messengers in some way of something that comes through us even if we can’t always live it.

  • Michelle says:

    Thank you for this. A few days I opened my heart to someone and we had a wonderful open conversation in which she taught me many things about relationships. I felt enlightened by her teaching. Then the same evening I found out that this person had robbed someone. It left me very confused about accepting the message that she told me. This puts things in perspective. I can still take her wisdom with me because she is the messenger, not the message itself. <3
    She herself is a troubled mind.

  • Liz Alarcon says:

    This is the most essential post you have written in the year I have been following you. Thank you, infinitely, for writing this.

  • Karen Pavone says:

    This post truly resonated with me Tara! What an insightful, spot on perspective.

  • Katie Bagby says:

    There’s so much wisdom here, Tara. I like the perspective that someone’s message may be their biggest area of personal learning or challenge. It may be their life teacher. I also like the thought of admiring a quality or attribute, without requiring that person to be all things. Thank you.

  • cecilia says:

    Tara, this really resonated with me as we are in the process of putting together our conference with wonderful people, such as yourself, and sometimes seeing that I’ve put them on a pedestal. Being up on a pedestal gives them a lack of freedom.

    But the biggest lesson for me is that if I think I have to be perfect before I give my gifts to the word, because of fear of becoming someone’s fallen hero, then I will never bring my gifts to the world. It’s much healthier when–as you point out–I realize I am just a messenger and that I’m still learning to “be” my message.

  • Donna says:

    Hello Tara and community:

    After commenting earlier I returned to read the wealth of wisdom, insight and reflection in the further responses to your post, as well as rereading your original meditation. Several writers have pointed out how the spiritual teacher or therapist-as-hero exemplifies for his/her followers an intimate emotional and personal relationship, at a level of influence and trust very different from the relation we develop toward the work of an artist.
    Perhaps it is a symptom of an age of painful disillusionment that in our disappointments with our spiritual leaders and mentors we have tried to press the creative artist into this role, and conflated both figures in an psycho-pompous idealization of (flawless) performance.
    A few years ago, after a period of reading various self-help authors, I began little by little to again explore fiction–poems and stories, and then novels–and realized literature had much more to teach me about the world, humanity, and myself (not withstanding my enormous debt to such great motivators as Julia Cameron, Susan Jeffers, and Barbara Sher, who put me in action in my own art work and life).
    Artistic traditions and forms of expression have a long and resonant and referential history, in which can be folded the ambivalence and contradiction and ambiguity of many layers of psychic, personal, inter-generational, and cultural content. An artist rarely can “explain” or identify the genesis or sources of his or her work in personal experience or conviction. And anyone who dares to assume this can be articulated is asking to be sliced to pieces and even silenced by the Inner Critic, dressed up here as the Sage. We are only beginning to appreciate that the “light of consciousness” is not all it’s cracked up to be, that control and “mastery” don’t lie in the focus of that spotlight. It may be the greater responsibility of the artist to observe, describe, perceive, synthesize…without imposing judgments on experience.
    Our spiritual desertion and desolation reside perhaps too much in our desire for certainty, security, assurance, and the temptation to our leaders to assuage our–and their–desires. But do the parables of Jesus or the Zen Koans offer us such consolation?
    There is an extraordinary poem by Rilke–I know it only in one or two English translations–in which the poet encounters a great sculpture (it may be Michelangelo’s David) which ultimately transmits to him a moral imperative, as would a spiritual teacher. Enlightenment; epiphany; yet still an ineluctible mystery.

  • Mehr Tanvir says:

    Wow, Tara — wow is the word that comes to mind.
    This piece:

    “In fact, they were probably assigned to be a conduit for the particular message they are delivering precisely because they are not living it easily or consistently.”

    I think your words (yes and they were a part of you here) just healed something profoundly broken inside of me — for myself as well, as I came up against a very serious creative block 20 years ago (yes 20 years) — how could I project what was inspiring me from within, when I was not really, and could never be fully sincere to that beauty, that ideal? It struck me then that maybe this was what the Koran also meant when it begins itself by declaring that “All praise is due to God alone…” – ‘Al-Hamd’ — ‘The Praise’ — ‘Praise Itself’ — ‘All Praise”… Because of course… He is the Only One capable of fully personifying what He has created. And no created being can ever reach that Perfection. But as you have conveyed the corollary to this so well, we can all still be the channels of that Inspiration to whatever degree possible in our work, and hopefully it may rub off on us in our personal lives. Thank you Tara for this beautiful article. Blessings.

  • Frances says:

    I was just expressing the sentiment of artist as “tool” of the messages from source. We open and allow what needs to flow through us, in whatever form we create.
    Thank you, once again for such a beautifully stated perspective of the humanity of those of us who accept, pass on and try to live that which we are conveying.

  • Kali says:

    This is a liberating perspective and gives me much food for thought. I’m left wondering, for a start, whether the Masculine and the Feminine have different takes on this … for the M it’s all about moving forward, what’s ahead, the idea, the problem etc and for the F it’s about what we’re living in, how we’re relating, the way we put something into practice, the process …so maybe we look from different places and for different things.
    I remember a while back when in Italy commenting on the difference between what the priests vociferously preached from the pulpits and what they practised in their lives, and some male friends told me I was looking at it wrongly, saying, “They’re just telling us what the potential is, that doesn’t mean they must be living it”. I was taken aback and remembered thinking that seemed to be a particularly Masculine view – just pointing at (or actually often shouting about!) the direction we should be going in and then going back to the direction you were going in before!!

  • /Freda says:

    That is a very compassionate stand to take.

  • justine says:

    This is so truly beautiful…
    Thank you Tara…you inspire me…I am happy you are here on earth!

  • Beautifully said, and at the perfect time along my personal journey. Thank you for sharing insights flowing through you.

  • Dori Hill says:

    Beautiful Tara. Thank you so much for all you share and allow to come through here for all of us. Sending you love.❤️

  • Nancy says:

    As I read your post, the name Cat Stevens came to me. I was so furious and betrayed when he supported the murder of an author because of religion. I put every record and cassette in the garbage. I will never buy another, but your words helped heal the hurt.

  • Maryna says:

    Your point on the Feminine/Masculine perspective on this subject is a critical one and takes us into deeper, darker waters. This stressful election has vividly demonstrated how the feminine has been devalued and distrusted by both men and women. Male candidates only need to have “big ideas”, not plans, not achievements, to be seen favorably. The gap between their soaring rhetoric and their actions is so easy to overlook, few question it. On the other hand, a female has to be perfect, polished and “good” in every aspect. Even the slightest gap between her words and actions will be seen as proof of her evil nature. The ugliness of this campaign season has cracked the veil on such hypocrisy. It is no coincidence that the most popular terms in pop culture today are “gaslighting” and “staying woke”. I respect Tara and her work, however the more I think about this post, the more disturbed I am by it. I do hope she issues a clarification.

  • Judy says:

    Beautiful and insightful. Thank you for this point of view. It gives me much to think about.

  • Donna Davis says:

    Hello Maryna (especially):

    I agree that this post of Tara’s has gotten under my skin as well, and becomes increasingly disturbing. Yes, I would also suspect that gender is nastily and insidiously at work (sneaking in the back door, or climbing in the window) in the sort of subject/object splitting by which Tara is trying to resolve (or smooth over, or prettify)a moral dilemma.
    While I consider myself a person of faith, and have like others achieved creative recovery and courage from adopting a transpersonal, let-go and let-God attitude toward creative expression–I owe so much to Julia Cameron in this regard–increasingly I question if such abdication of responsibility to magical woo-woo doesn’t just divert our energies from addressing real issues in our duties to the world.
    In “A Room of One’s Own,” Virginia Woolf put forward a tough, realistic challenge to all female (read alternative) authors that justifies our most “unworthy” efforts without recourse to Divine Inspiration. Neither you nor I will, in our limited experience, ever become the breakthrough genius whom Woolf, in her historical moment, calls “the female Shakespeare.” But without our struggles and work, our voices and images, even our humiliations and failures, there will be no opportunity for the female Shakespeare to emerge.
    We’re living in the material world, and I’m a material girl. But a lot of apparent choice comes down to a choice between bread and circuses. Which is of course no choice at all.

    I don’t agree with Sartre (a frequently despicable Dead White Male) in his dismissal of the powers of the imagination and the subjunctive, but I see at least an essential part of the truth in his remark–my paraphrase–“Things are exactly as they seem/appear and behind them there is…nothing.”
    I realize some of my comments here seem hopelessly intellectualized, forgive my borrowed style of patriarchal arrogance and all its pretensions/defenses. INTP type, and queered if not queer…what can ya do? But I still recommend Rilke’s poem as it does really–if only momentarily–reconcile art and ethics and material embodiment as few works ever have. And Julia Cameron, to her great credit, is superb on this point: Many people think the art is based on fantasy. In fact it’s grounded in the intense, loving perception and engagement and grappling with the day-to-day, physical, sensuous world.

  • Callie says:

    Hi Tara,
    Thank you for this insight. It is a great way to look at fallen heroes. Have you seen Elizabeth Gilbert’s Ted talk on a similar vein? I thought you might enjoy it if you haven’t already.
    http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius?language=en

  • Donna Davis says:

    Hi Tara and community–Callie–
    your link led me first to Gilbert’s 2009 TED Talk, but then, better still, to her much more recent 2014 address. Homecoming. As in Billy Joel’s “Baby Grand,” as well.
    From Judith Viorst’s, “The Tenth Good Thing About Barney”:
    “Barney’s in heaven, drinking cream and eating tuna,” she said.
    “Barney’s in the ground,” I said.
    “In heaven!”
    “In the ground.”
    My Dad said, “Well, maybe Barney’s in heaven. But we don’t know a lot about heaven. We be sure that’s it’s there.”
    ….
    Later, as Dad spreads compost and beds the garden for fall…
    “Everything changes in the ground.”
    “Will Barney change too?”
    “Yes, he’ll change and change until he’s part of the ground of the garden.”
    “Will Barney help the flowers grow, too?”
    “Yes. He’ll be helping the flowers grow.”

    “You know,” he said, “that’s a pretty nice job for a cat.”
    Namaste.

  • Donna Davis says:

    Correction:
    My Dad said, “Well, maybe Barney’s in heaven. But we don’t know a lot about heaven. We can’t be sure that’s it’s there.”
    ….

  • Maryna says:

    Thank you for your comments and insight. I am inspired to go back to Julia Cameron, with whom I did a workshop over 15 years ago. I found her to be the read deal, open and honest about her journey. You perfectly sum up my current state of mind here, “increasingly I question if such abdication of responsibility to magical woo-woo doesn’t just divert our energies from addressing real issues in our duties to the world”. – YES, this is why I have taken a much needed break from the self-help world. Do you know the work of Danielle La Porte? She is currently writing a book on the dark side of the self-help movement and urging people to become their own guru’s. This feels like the direction I am heading in. I don’t expect anyone to live by my morals and values. I am also very clear that actions speak louder than words. All the best!

  • Nicole Weiss says:

    Excellent piece. Thank you for sharing.

  • I really appreciated this piece. I follow several Law of Attraction authors/speakers and wondered if they were the people they seemed to be. Now with your gentle reminder, I can let them off the hook. Thank you.

  • KW says:

    Impeccably written and thought-through. it is the shared humanness – as you write; we can never know what people are going though on the inside — thank you for sharing.

  • Linda Ugelow says:

    I know that I aspire to live up to my own message and that one of the reasons why I teach it is that it paves the way for my own learning. I appreciate your generous perspective here that, in fact, gives us all permission to have flaws.

  • Rebecca says:

    I didn’t have time to read this when you first sent it and I’m glad I saved it. It’s really beautiful and so compassionate. We all have something valuable to share and we all struggle. You did a great job of conveying our feelings and a sharing a good way to process them.
    Thank you!

  • Katrina says:

    Tara – Great post. You’ve beautifully articulated something I’ve struggled with lately. Thank you.

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