Tom Bissinger
Writer, Ceremonialist
Pottstown, PA

Illustration by
Chung, O

Dear Buddy,

Here’s what happened this morning: a waitress told me this story. A long distance swimmer in the ocean was being followed by a shark, no way to escape. A school of dolphins came and surrounded the swimmer; the dolphins' beeping sound drove the shark away, and the swimmer was escorted by the animals until he was safe. I took the story to mean that we are continually surrounded by unseen forces, protecting us, guiding us, watching over us. However, this is just a story.

Later, a chiropractor told me, eat “living” food, that is, fruit and vegetables. I was struggling with a knee injury and my thought process went something like this: I am the injury, I am the swelling, I am the pain. “I” became everything and in such a process, I identified with my pain and was consumed (and consumed) it.

We are storytellers. it is our human way of passing the time. However, if you identify exclusively with the story you've created for yourself, you can lose sight of something equally of value: your present moment life. A parrot is beautiful but rarely says anything original.

Much of life is a choice between love and fear.

There are many gurus, teachers, savants along the way. They are not to be ignored. It is good to listen. Do the thoughts (yours, theirs) come from fear- or love? Think for yourself. Much of our life we respond predictably, I may say even automatically, to situations and other people. The task is to become conscious.

The road has many forks; you will come to crossroads. Take hold tightly - let go lightly.

Generosity and selfishness are strange bedfellows. Sometimes, what appears to be generous behavior is self-serving, and sometimes selfish behavior is simply being honest.

You are not a victim. The drama queen in you may like to suffer but I assure you, it is a hackneyed role and will delay you from discovering who you are. You are not a role, nor a mask, nor an identity. You are a being, a human being. To express that humanity is both your birthright and your obligation.

Have fun. Life is too short for tight shoes. Be kind.