You Don’t Have To Do Something To Be Someone

February 25, 2015 § 12 Comments

white space, hand, singular, presenceWhite Space Project

“Waiting to arrive—we’ve been here all along.” ~ Barry Spacks

 At a fourth of July yard party, several years ago, a friend of a friend asked to speak with me; a soft-spoken gentleman whose penetrating blue eyes looked at once both illuminated & haunted.

He said he was a clairvoyant, and sometimes this happened—someone on “the other side” tried to get a message through him. This time it was me. Would I like to hear the message?

talking_with_spirits_by_ymymy-d49msp6Paul Landers Benzin, “Talking With Spirits.”

 Would I?

I LIVE for these moments! Happily, I accepted & we strolled to the far side of the lawn, away from the buzz of party conversation, to a quiet patch of grass. We sat down & he told me that a woman was speaking to him from the other side, my grandmother.

He described an image projected in black & white against a cinema screen, a classic Hollywood beauty in black lace.


He did not know me, but he was describing my grandmother, Margo, exactly—a film actress from the 1930s who was, indeed, fond of black lace.

Margo AlbertMargo

He chuckled, saying it was funny and odd to have a spirit so insistent on getting his attention, when the message wasn’t an urgent warning of physical danger. He told me:

“She wants you to know that you don’t have to do something to be someone.”

rainbow prism, crystal sparklingSuperpunch

He continued: “She says right now you think you need to do things to be someone, like they did. She says you’re hard on yourself, wanting to be more like your family, but you’re already doing what you’re supposed to be doing. You already are someone.”

What he said struck me. I got chills.

modern make-up, blue eyeshadow, art make-up, creative color, blueFrom Lotta Agaton

My grandfather, Eddie Albert, was a respected & successful actor, inventor, war-hero & noted humanitarian. He made a difference. Margo, too, was an actress, beloved acting teacher & cultural activist; creator of Plaza de la Rasa, a non-profit inner city arts center. These guys did stuff.

Next to their accomplishments, my blog & small book of poetry seemed a measly offering. I was constantly feeling behind, rushing to catch up; my life felt like sand in an hourglass, the whisper of its grains, a perpetual white noise.


“She says you’re a healer, but not with your hands. You heal by connecting with people, by being yourself, by giving them your energy and attention. By being. She wants you to embrace who you are and be happy with yourself. Feel peace.”

It was a powerful thing to be told by a total stranger. Whether or not you believe that he was receiving messages from my dead grandmother (which, personally, I do) it’s undeniably synchronistic that someone who knew nothing about me should feel compelled to single me out of a party and tell me exactly what I most needed to hear, sacrificing his own time with his friends, wanting nothing in return.

reflection, hand touching hand, hand touching reflectionArtist Unknown

Since then, my personal sense of peace has deepened radically, taking root.

Those simple words restored a significant piece of my fragmented personal power. I share them with you today because I think this message applies to us all.

Our power lies in our presence, our authenticity. Not mere physical presence but intentional emotional, psychological, energetic self-inhabiting. To be fully grounded & embodied—not distracted or mentally fragmented—is the best gift we can give ourselves and each human with whom we interface, from the grocery store clerk to our best friend.

I think we can all heal through human connection, being ourselves, giving others sincere energy and attention. By being.

presence, embodiment, energy, artistic nudeArtist Unknown

Living as most of us do in a capitalist, consumer-based society, we are focused on output, productivity, as a measure of personal worth. What have you done? the World seems to ask. Who are you? By which it means, what have you produced?

Now, as an artist I think creation is important; I personally do intend to leave as many thoughtful offerings as possible behind when I die, but the fixation on production can become pathological. As the Western world is famous for doing, it sets the focus on action over being.

Action is important—I’m not talking about “The Secret”-based brand of so-called human potential, where vision boards & belief trump action & hard work. I’m moving a level deeper, more primal, than the basic fact that action is eventually essential. I’m saying, underneath that truth is another truth: the truth that we are nothing without presence.

cosmic human, presenceSource 

Without our essence, our awareness, we are meat & bones; zombies inhabiting the Earth, sleepwalking through life, cogs in the machine of industry, role-players, people-pleasers. Without truly inhabiting ourselves, we are lost.

And so the more I integrated focus on inhabiting my body—of being actually having meaning—the better my life got. The better I felt, and (sweet cosmic irony!) my productivity became much more inspired. Because my personal power had been restored.

connection Source 

This came about because I no longer felt reliant on external achievement to reflect my value. I had ceased to hang my sense of purpose & self-worth on creating something (for instance a book) that I then would desperately proffer to a faceless slew of middlemen & women, hoping—just hoping!—they might see something where I had struggled & toiled for years to create an artistic offering of value.

And then, if—wonder of wonders!—a single eye sparkled amid that slew of faceless agents at that certain-something in my writing, then still, more external acceptance awaited, a hall of doors! Would a publisher see what the agent saw? And then—miraculous fortune!—should a publisher deign to invest thousands in my Offering, would “the public” care? Would they even know?

Man begging on his kneesTed Szukalski

Modern society’s emphasis on personal value based on external, acceptance-based factors, such as status & productivity, would make emotional beggars of us all.

We must reclaim ourselves.

Laurent Grasso, "Eclipse", presence, sun, inner sunLaurent Grasso, “Eclipse”

Please don’t misunderstand. To say that merely by existing we are helping the world, on its own is the height of myopic, grotesque self-absorption & delusion. Clearly, action is both ethically & personally essential. But focusing entirely on action without first grounding in being, diminishes the return of said action.

Being must proceed doing, or we become fragmented, anxious, lost—in short, modern humans.

Fragmented SocietyFragmented Society

And I’m still totally working on several books with the intention of proffering it brazenly to a faceless slew of agents, who hold the keys to the world of publishing, who hold the moneybags & the printing presses….I’m just not waiting until all of that happens to feel that I am someone. That I’ve “arrived.” Sometimes I have to remind myself of this, but as a touchstone it works wonders. I am here. I am inhabiting my body with awareness. This matters.

When I interface with other humans, I do my best to look deeply into their eyes & see the soul behind their defenses. I try to be a good listener. I try to listen, too, within myself for what wants to be said, what seems, indeed, to need saying—my intuition on what wants to come through our exchange. Like a living radio antenna, I try to tune to the highest potential truth of the moment. Of course, I do it with varying degrees of success—but when I do it right, it works! There is a guiding flow to every moment, waiting to carry us through on its back like a wave.

"Stellarscapes" by Oriol Angrill JordàOriol Angrill Jordà, “Stellarscapes.”

If we truly lay aside our personal agendas & abstract mental focuses (as best we can) and tune into the wide open space between our molecules, the immense breathing room inside us—the breath flowing through us!—the dancing essence of aliveness in our fingertips & toes, chest, legs, arms, belly…first of all, it feels good. It’s like coming home. Second of all, we become more present & embodied, which in turn has a grounding affect on others—supporting their own self-reclamation—as well as opening us up to increased inspiration & intuition in the moment.

Focusing on being before doing fosters this embodiment. And embodiment is a very achievable goal, because all of the power to realize it lies within us, dependent on no one else.

When present within ourselves and the moment, we are more easily able feel the other, empathetically. We tune in; they feel seen, it becomes a more beautiful world, a more joyful exchange. We are living tuning forks, made of flesh, bone & a mysterious, sentient aliveness; our purpose, I believe, lies in increasing world harmony, one moment, one exchange, at a time. Let us start where we are. Here.

First, it helps to see that we have clearly already arrived.

nature and human, woman ocean, you are somebodySource 

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§ 12 Responses to You Don’t Have To Do Something To Be Someone

  • batgurrl says:

    I feel released and freed by this in a very sweet way. We all think we need that 15min of fame. That is so empty and a time waster. May we all shine on and light the world in an unassuming way that pushes the shadows away. Robin. PS. I’m envious of your grandma moment.

    • Tai Carmen says:

      Thank you so much for letting me know, Robin. It’s so fortifying to get feedback from readers! And so beautifully said. On on!


      P.S. I couldn’t believe it happened to me! I felt so unusually fortunate. 😀

  • August says:

    I really needed this story today. You’re a beautiful soul & an amazing writer. (I guess it’s been over a month since I’ve checked my bookmarked blogs.)

    I’m currently reading the book “Shantaram,” where I just came across a similar subject about the reality of our lives within and without.

    Thanks for the gorgeous story-telling & inspiration!

    • Tai Carmen says:

      That means so much to hear. Thank you for telling me, August!

      I write in the hopes of it being just what someone else might need to hear. So I appreciate knowing that it was that for you. 🙂

      On on!


  • Al says:

    Another great post Tai… Modern society has got the majority of people to think only of striving for success, and ironically seems to have defined exactly what success is.

    However there are now a growing number of people who realise we can define our own lives and live by our own values rather than having to follow some ones else’s ideology.

    In the words of Thich Nhat Hanh:

    “Be authentic”

    Keep up the good work and thanks for the inspiration.


    • Tai Carmen says:

      Thank you so much for the kind words, Al. It brightens my day to know this post helped brighten yours. 🙂

      On on,


  • renatembell says:

    I soooooo needed this story today, too. It brought tears to my eyes. The words are like a gentle chorus singing to my heart and reminding me to relax more as I continue my journey. Thank you, Tai, and thank you to your beautiful grandmother for the message. ~Renate

    PS- I loved your grandfather! 🙂

    • Tai Woodville says:

      Thank you so much for the kind words, Renatembell,

      Knowing the post had this effect for you is tremendously rewarding & validating. That is exactly my hope in writing Parallax, so thank you for telling me. The experience was meaningful for me as well, I’m thrilled it could translate. 🙂

      On on!


  • 64doors says:

    My father’s entire life is the embodiment of all that he did not do. His failures were so deeply bemoaned by his father that he escaped from it through blame, blaming others in order to justify his lack of doing. Over the years he judged more and more and did less and less. Now he sits in front of a computer most of the day, his health declining, reminiscing over the old days when everything was perfect and lashing out at the world for standing in his way and keeping him from doing everything he meant to do. Fear is his companion and no amount of my love can penetrate it.

    So many people suffer from this self~hate. It eats them alive, destroys everything they love, ruins any chance of them ever being happy. It’s devastating to watch in my father because I see through it all to the wounded soul that lies beneath, a soul that would be beautiful if he accepted himself, yet I am helpless to do anything about it. Lives are destroyed by this need to produce. It’s tragic.

    My gift is to see the beauty in every soul, and, as you, to listen. And yet it can be a curse, because when I attempt to convey the beauty of a soul to itself when it is convinced that it is horrible and ugly, nothing good can come of it. People will believe what they may, and when I am attempting to heal those I touch from a place of sorrow my actions and words become poison. No matter how much we want to help, without, as you say, being first grounded in joy and self~love, all our actions are for naught. And yet it is hard sometimes not to lament.

    My father may never know self~love or joy in this lifetime, all because he believes the lie that he must have done something with his life to be worthwhile to breathe the air. And yet, this is why he came. We must honour every universe and its purpose, empty ourselves as a vessel and allow that endless presence to flow through us to whom it may. The Inner Being knows who needs our ear, our touch, our love. It is our best guide.

    • Tai Carmen says:

      Thank you for sharing a piece of your story, as well as your ruminations, so beautifully, 64doors. Your father’s story truly is tragic & so illustrative of what can happen when we follow the line of thought that our worth & our value are equal to what we have done or produced. I still have to talk myself away from re-falling for this lie sometimes, it is so deeply ingrained in me.

      Interestingly, my father—who I mention here as an example of someone who did great things—did not feel he had done as great a things as his father; and this impending sense of failure haunted *him* and ate him out inside.

      It must stop with us!

      On on,

  • 64doors says:

    Been returning occasionally to thoughts of your comment in this article about “The Secret”. The way you word the sentence about it feels out of place, hard compared to the soft flow of the rest of the article. I totally get your meaning in context but feel that you may be resistant to a process that can be of use temporarily, if not to you then to others.

    To live a life based on The Secret is to be lost in desire and yet it, as every Path, does have its benefits. Sometimes a teacher will reach out to, say, those who are materialist~minded, with something that lures them with a gleam of gold. Perhaps they would not pay attention otherwise. I think that this is in a way dishonest, like luring a child with candy, but some teachers will do what is necessary to awaken as many as possible. In the case of The Secret, I think that the point of it was to attune to that caste of people in order to awaken them to the very point that you are making here; that we need not “do” to find our true potential.

    I, myself, got quite a bit out of it when it first came out. I went from an expensive apartment on a busy street and no car to a cheap, beautiful house of my own in the woods and a car, all in six months. Only when my angstful situation had subsided into a more joyous one was I able to see beyond what this “Secret” could offer. As the more subtle beauty of awakening stirred inside me it became marred by the Secret’s accomplishment~based pitfalls of mind and I let it go. It is said that the point with any method is to move beyond it and discard it when it is no longer needed.

    It’s important to honour the process, and that process is different for different people. The Secret taught me to let go of action, and in so I found that resting place of presence, finding a silence in which I was at last able to hear that small voice of wisdom that guided me in what action to take through clarity, not forced as before but natural. My teachers have changed and this Secret is of no benefit to me any longer, but it is for some.

    Merely thoughts of a Sister. 🙂

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