The New Phone Books Are Here!

"I am somebody! I am somebody!" In the 1979 movie The Jerk, Navin Johnson is thrilled when the new phone books arrive and he sees his name is in print. He feels validated and believes things are going to change for him. Later in the story Navin becomes disillusioned with seeking validation. "Well I'm gonna to go then. And I don't need any of this. I don't need this stuff, and I don't need you." He feels just like a little child who decides to run away from home for a seeming lack of appreciation. Many of us occasionally feel this way with friends, partners, employers, organizations. Within seconds of expressing his desire for freedom, Navin comes back with this: "I don't need this or this. Just this ashtray. And this paddle game, the ashtray and the paddle game and that's all I need. And this remote control. The ashtray, the paddle game, and the remote control, and that's all I need. And these matches. The ashtray, and these matches, and the remote control and the paddle ball. And this lamp..." He goes on and teaches a marvelous lesson on the way detachment, unlike the things we might want to release, just seems to slip through our fingers. For Navin and the rest of us, it's not about giving up the stuff or the people, but the notion that we need it. Then we can freely enjoy everything. There is nothing that can validate us except our understanding that we don't need validation. To make the most out of our lives we don't need to become somebody or belong to someone else. We just need to BE.

photo courtesy of llimllib (Bill Mill) at

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