Saturday, September 29, 2012


There is a lot of talk these days about people who live in bubbles and walk about without cores. I get the bubble simile, one is unwilling or unable to grasp other people's experiences, but the "core" concept I find more complex.  I first bumped into this word as it applies to people and not apples, in a self-help group run by Dottie years ago. Dottie went to a Gestalt workshop, loved the experience and decided to carry it home and offer it to others. A dozen of us, mostly students, joined her group out of curiosity and for the great cookies she baked every week; except for Edger, Dottie's husband, who had to attend.  Dottie would begin the group by asking us to say a sentence or two about how we felt in the moment. As usual, when it came to Edger's turn, he described what his body was doing. He said something like, "I feel the back of my thighs pressing hard against the chair. The straighter I sit, the stronger the pressure." Dottie, none too fond of Edger, lost it.  "No one cares about your damn thighs, Edger. What do you feel inside? Speak from your CORE."  I felt sorry for Edger, who mumbled something about his shoulders, and I wondered about my own core.

What does it mean to have a core?  I picture a column of values, principles and beliefs based on all life experiences; an inner identity.  To be in touch with your core means you know who you are and what you stand for.  And, without thinking too much about it, people around you have a feeling for who you are.  If asked to sum you up in a core word, they might say such things as: scholar, giver, taker, salesman, comedian, Don Juan, saint, teacher, healer, politician, brat, catalyst or artist. Not a full description. Rather, an intuitive impression.

Closely aligned with the concept of core is the idea of authenticity.  One knows when someone is pretending to be something s/he isn't.  The pretense may be motivated by shyness or by the need to play a role that doesn't suit.  It may be about inflating one's ego or trying to put something over on someone.  You may not think about the motivation, you just know when someone is being phony.  It makes you squirm and want to look the other way.

Most of us, at one time or another, have been oblivious or untrue to our core values; certainly we have all used pretense.  It's odd how being oneself is often the hardest thing in the world to do while at the same time it's the simplest of ideas.

Oh, and looking back on Edger, I think he was being himself ... concrete ... he just wasn't being who Dottie wanted him to be.

Monday, September 3, 2012


If you heard me say it was 75 degrees outside and I was a degree off, would you have to correct me? Some people cannot leave alone an incorrect statement.  Which is a good thing if one is about to take a wrong dosage of medicine or make a wrong turn onto a highway ... but the weather?

If you are an expert in a field of knowledge and someone misspeaks, it's easy to understand a correction.  Quite reasonably, you are defending the knowledge and your expertise.  One can also understand the show off who corrects to demonstrate how great s/he is rather than how stupid you are.  No real harm meant.  The pouncer is not so benign.  The pouncer lives to correct, is driven by the need to be right, to be the leader, the superior teacher who makes you less.  Put two pouncers together and they will turn a room into a coliseum.

Pouncers like to lurk.  If you have a pouncer in your life, you may find yourself making mistakes because you feel so closely watched.  Before you know it, you can't put the key in the lock correctly or add up the grocery bill or freely express an opinion.  Serious, full-time pouncers (unfortunately these include parents) damage esteem and relationships.  When challenged they highlight the errors made and ignore their controlling need to correct. If pressed, they try to fool you by giving up verbal criticism but their eyes seek and their mouths are grim with unspoken criticisms.  My suggestion: run, run away from the pouncer.