My mother was an avid devotee of Deepak Chopra.
She read his books without end, made sure to record him whenever he was on TV, attended his lectures, and listened to his recordings when she took her morning walk.
You can imagine my surprise when she called me one New Year’s Day and blasted open the phone conversation with the bomb shell, “Don’t ever buy me anything else from Deepak Chopra!”
“Uh, hi Mom,” I stammered, “Happy New Year to you too. What happened? Did he kill or molest someone?”
“Oh goodness no! He’d never do anything like that. He’s a very nice man.”
One might understand my confusion trying to square that circle. “Okay, so why is he now persona non-grata?”
“Did you read what he said in the L.A. Times?”
“No mom. I live in Eureka.”
“Oh, yes, that’s right. Anyway, there’s a piece in the lifestyle section where the reporter asked several celebrities what they wish for their children in the coming year. I can’t believe what he said! I’m just so upset.”
She stopped. I could feel her fuming.
“Are you going to tell me or make me guess?”
“For the new year, he wants his children to live in a state of constant uncertainty! Can you believe that? What kind of person wishes uncertainty for his children?”
Let’s take a break.
To understand why my mother was so upset, one needs to know that she came from a life and time where security and certainty were the twin pillars of a Holy Grail. Due in large part to the influences of surviving the loss of her father as a young child, almost losing her mother at the same time, trying to raise two younger sisters, and then the mayhem of World War II, followed by the unexpected failure of her marriage; she desperately attempted to retain a sense of control; a salve to heal a tumultuous life. Landing a career as an executive assistant, she retired after decades with a regular pension, and wanted to spend her remaining time traveling, taking classes, and visiting her children. For a man she so well-regarded to wish upon his children “constant uncertainty” was — in her eyes — tantamount to cursing them to an existence of strife and pain.
“I see why you might consider his comments distressing in light of all you’ve been through,” I responded. “Does he explain his remark?”
“I don’t know,” she harrumphed. “I got so angry when I read that, that I threw down the paper and called you. You’re always so good about things like this.”
“Sorry, mom, I’m empty. However, I’m kind of vested in it now too. Since I don’t get the Times, can you finish the article and let me know what else he said?”
“Okay,” she said, resigned, “I’ll call you back in a moment.”
When the phone rang again, her voice was much calmer, almost sheepish. “I get it now,” she said, “You can buy his books again.”
“Wow, that’s quite a change. What turned you around?”
“He said that it is in the state of uncertainty is when all things become possible. The more sure we are that something is the way we believe it to be, the less likely we explore alternatives, thereby getting stuck in a rut of our own thoughts, narrowing our options. We don’t consider other possibilities that might actually make our lives better. So, what he was really saying is that he was wishing for his children to live in a world where everything is possible and they know no limits.”
“Makes sense,” I said.
“I wish he would have said it that way,” she added, “I wouldn’t have gotten so upset;” she paused, and then almost as if reassuring herself, continued, “I told you he was a very nice man.”
“Yes, he is. So, are you wishing for me a state of constant uncertainty in this new year?”
“Oh goodness no!” She hesitated; realizing what she said. “Would it be okay to wish for you a little uncertainty?”
“Are you sure?”
About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is a THINspirational speaker and author. Since losing 70 pounds 23 years ago, he conducts speeches, workshops, and presentations. He also coaches individuals and consults with companies on how to implement and handle change. He can be reached at www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com or 707.442.6243.