Living Half a Life

Posted on | July 16, 2009 | 5 Comments

One more time: You don’t need to change yourself-you couldn’t anyway. You need to become yourself-and that will change everything. Here’s a real example:

Charlotte, The Woman Living Half a Life
Charlotte, a PhD child psychologist, came to the Five Questions Weekend with a vague sense of unhappiness, unusual for her, since she had long prided herself on being the eternal optimist. In our interaction, she explained that she had been trained by her mother to ‘always look for the silver lining.’ Whenever illness or loss occurred, she was told not to discuss it with neighbors-or even anyone in the family-out of fear that talking about it would validate its existence and give it energy. So she had been going through her life avoiding things like sadness, failure, loss, poverty, and laziness (a real no-no in her family).

At one point I said to her, ‘Charlotte, my good friend Mark Kelso, a gifted musician and songwriter, may have something for you here. He puts it this way:

Half of Everything
I want the up, but not the down; I want the smile, but not the frown.
I like the Yes, but not the No; don’t want to stop; just want to go.
Don’t want the darkness, just want the light; I want the day, but not the night.
I want the honey, but not the sting; I want half of everything.

I like the fire, but not the burn; I want to know-don’t want to learn.
I like Hello, but not Goodbye; I want to live, don’t want to die.
I love to scratch, but not to itch; I love the goddess, but hate the bitch.
I want the honey, but not the sting; I want half of everything.

I like the half that makes me happy, and hate the part that makes me sad.
I love the gorgeous, the sweet and the good; I hate the ugly, the bitter, the bad.
I like the pleasure and hate the pain; I worship the sun and shun the rain.

I want the honey, but not the sting; I want half of everything.

© 1995 Mark Kelso, used by permission, Muddy Angel Music

‘Can you see,’ I challenged her, ‘how much energy you have been expending in a futile attempt to live half a life?! You are constantly having to sort, to eliminate large chunks of reality: ‘I’ll let this in, but not that.’ What if you simply embraced all of life-and all of who you are, regardless of whether it seemed initially to be ‘positive’?’

After some minutes of intense interaction, Charlotte relaxed into acceptance of a particularly ‘negative’ aspect of her life: her rage. She saw what she had been missing, saw how much energy she had been expending in a futile attempt to keep her anger at bay, saw how OK it was to be a person who occasionally got angry. Through tears of relief and exultation, she blurted, ‘No wonder I’ve been exhausted, unhappy and felt so ineffective!’

Charlotte, like each one of us, is operating with a powerful picture of ourselves: how she-and the world-are supposed to be. As you will see, that picture, given to you in childhood, is incomplete and woefully out of date. Next week we’ll look at how that happened.


5 Responses to “Living Half a Life”

  1. Bryce
    July 16th, 2009 @ 10:33 pm

    Great article. I think we in the western world are so conditioned to expecting everthing in & around our lives to be in ‘order’& to be constantly progressing materially, that WHEN a spanner in thrown into our works, we cry foul & start throwing our toys. Things like loss, depression, suffering, problems & challenges etc can be a gift, if you let them that is. Perception is everything. As you say we must learn to embrace all of life, both the highs & lows, so we can build a resilient character & an adaptable mindset. I have always liked this take on life:

    1. Life is about lessons
    2. There are no mistakes only lessons
    3. A lesson will be repeated until learnt
    4. Learning never ends.

    Keep up the great work John. I love your stuff.

    Bryce Neil
    New Zealand

  2. John Scherer
    July 19th, 2009 @ 9:43 am

    Thanks, Bryce!
    Yes. The trick is to learn to ‘manage’ the inner conversations that have the tendency to turn those lessons into ‘negative’ experiences to be avoided. Today I received my usual weekly Meditation from my favorite Rabbi, Ted Falcon (, Seattle) and he had these powerful sentence stems in his email:
    1. One aspect of my life that I have trouble accepting is…
    2. If I imagine even THAT event to be supportive of my evolution, I might see that…
    3. I am now nearing the land I have been seeking, in which…

    I am taking these three sentences on this week. Hope you will, too.


  3. Debra Voliva-Burks
    July 19th, 2009 @ 6:25 pm

    What a powerful statement this is to me…”You NEED to BECOME yourself, and that will change everything!” Let go and let God~  If I were 22 again and this message was on my everyday list of things to do, I may have gotten “IT” ealier without the frustration on “living life the hard way” not Gods way. God’s timing in everything is so crutial in each of us~ Why can’t society get the FREE message that God wants us all to live the life of FREEDOM on this Earth? Time is so precious! Loose a parent and learn the hard way of what you should have done “MORE OF”.  Deb

  4. John Scherer
    July 19th, 2009 @ 8:07 pm

    Deb, yes, another way I say it is that we don’t need to CHANGE ourselves, we need to COME HOME to ourselves, and that changes everything. Forgive yourself for whatever you think you should have done and start being/doing it rkight now. JOHN

  5. Debra Voliva-Burks
    July 20th, 2009 @ 2:01 pm

    Absolutely John! “Just Do It” is such an important lesson. I love life so much more when I accomplish things I have put on the back burner. I love the joy it brings my heart when I set a goal and reach it in a timely fashion. You are such an inspiring man, your wisdom and acts of kindness continue to glow in every heart you touch! Keep up the great work and thanks for your prayers!


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