Human Being (an excerpt)
Rachel Naomi Remen

In the beginning of December the year I was thirteen, my father declared bankruptcy.  That was the year we all made our Christmas presents.  I remember waiting for Christmas with more than the usual anticipation, anxious to know if the muffler I had secretly knit for my father would please him and how the bracelet I had designed and made from copper wire would look on Mom.  Despite the stress in the household,  on Christmas morning the living room was much as always, the familiar decorations out and the coffee table heaped with presents, only wrapped this year in the sporting green section of the newspaper and tied with last year's red ribbon.  Among them lay a small velvet box.

Even at thirteen, I knew that such a box was not likely to contain something homemade.  I looked at it with suspicion.  My father smiled.  "It's for you," he told me.  "Open it."

Inside were a pair of twenty-four karat gold earrings.  They were exquisite.  I stared at them in silence, bewildered, feeling the weight of my homeliness, my shyness, my hopeless difference from my classmates who easily joked and flirted and laughed.

"Aren't you going to try them on?" prompted my father, so I took them into the bathroom, closed the door, and put them on my ears.  Cautiously I looked into the mirror.  My sallow, pimply face and lank hair, oily before it even dried from a shower, looked much as always.  The earrings looked absurd.

Tearing them from my ears, I rushed back into the living room and flung them on the floor.  "How could you do this?" I shrieked at my father.  "Why are you making fun of me?  Take them back.  They look stupid.  I'm too ugly to wear them.  How could you waste all this money?"  Then I burst into tears.  My father said nothing until I had cried myself out.  Then he passed me his clean, folded handkerchief.  "I know they don't look right now," he said quietly.  "I bought them because someday they will suit you perfectly."

I am truly grateful to have survived my adolescence.  At some of its lowest moments, I would get out the box and look at the earrings.  My father had spent a hundred dollars he did not have because he believed in the person I was becoming.  It was something to hold on to.

Behind my father's gift lay the kind of double vision which is the mark of every healer.  He could have told me not to cry, that someday I would be a lovely woman.  But that would have belittled my pain and invalidated my experience, the truth of the moment.  What he did was far more powerful.  He acknowledged my pain and its appropriateness while backing my process.  His belief that change would emerge, naturally, in the course of things made all the difference.  Wholeness was just a matter of time.

"Human being" is more a verb than a noun.  Each of us is unfinished, a work in progress.  Perhaps it would be most accurate to add the word "yet" to all our assessments of ourselves and each other.  Jon has not learned compassion. . . yet.  I have not developed courage. . . yet.  It changes everything.  I have seen the "yet" become real even at the very edge of life.  If life is process, all judgments are provisional.  We can't judge something until it is finished.  No one has won or lost until the race is over.

"Broken" may be only a stage in a process.  A bud is not a broken rose.  Only lifeless things are broken.  Perhaps the unique process which is a human being is never over.  Even at death.

Rachel Remen has a unique perspective on healing rooted in her background as a physician, a professor of medicine, a therapist, and a long-term survivor of chronic illness. In a deeply moving and down-to-earth collection of true stories, this prominent physician shows us life in all its power and mystery and reminds us that the things we cannot measure may be the things that ultimately sustain and enrich our lives.

more on pain


welcome page - contents - gallery - obstacles - quotations
 the people behind the words - our current e-zine
 articles and excerpts - Daily Meditations, Year Two - Year Three

Sign up for your free daily spiritual or general quotation


Allowing the pain of personal growth to be a crucible of your spirit--the
alchemical grail through which the metal of your former self turns into
gold--is one of the highest callings of life.  Pain can burn you up and
destroy you, or burn you up and redeem you.  It can deliver you to an
entrenched despair, or deliver you to your higher self.  At midlife we
decide, consciously or unconsciously, the path of the victim or the
path of the phoenix when it is rising up at last.

Marianne Williamson
The Age of Miracles



All contents Living Life Fully, all rights reserved.


We have some inspiring and motivational books that may interest you.  Our main way of supporting this site is through the sale of books, either physical copies or digital copies for your Amazon Kindle (including the online reader).  All of the money that we earn through them comes back to the site in one way or another.  Just click on the picture to the left to visit our page of books, both fiction and non-fiction!


HOME - contents - Daily Meditations - abundance - acceptance - achievement - action - adversity - advertising - aging - ambition
anger - anticipation - anxiety - apathy - appreciation - arrogance - art - attitude - authenticity - awakening - awareness - awe
balance - beauty - being yourself - beliefs - body - brooding - busyness - caring - celebration - challenges -
change - character
charity - children - choices - Christianity - coincidence - commitment - common sense - community - comparison - compassion
competition - complaining - compliments - compromise - confidence - conformity - conscience - contentment - control - cooperation
courage - covetousness - creativity - crisis - criticism - cruelty -  death - decisions - desire - determination - disappointment
discipline - discouragement - diversity - doubt - dreams - earth - education - ego - emotions - encouragement - enlightenment
enthusiasm - envy - eternity - ethics - example - exercise - experience - failure - faith - fame - family - fate - fathers - fault-finding
fear - feelings - finances - flowers - forgiveness - freedom - friendship - frustration - fun - the future - garden of life - gardening
generosity - gentleness - giving - goals - God - goodness - grace - gratitude - greatness - greed - grief - growing up - guilt - habit
happiness - hatred - healing - health - heart - helpfulness - home - honesty - hope - hospitality - humility - hurry - ideals - identity
idleness  - idolatry - ignorance - illusion - imagination - impatience - individuality - the inner child - inspiration - integrity - intimacy
introspection - intuition - jealousy - journey of life - joy - judgment - karma - kindness - knowledge - language - laughter - laziness
leadership - learning - letting go - life - listening - loneliness - love - lying - magic - marriage - materialism - meanness - meditation
mindfulness - miracles - mistakes - mistrust - moderation - money - mothers - motivation - music - mystery - nature - negative attitude
now - oneness - open-mindedness - opportunity - optimism - pain - parenting - passion - the past - patience - peace - perfectionism
perseverance - perspective - pessimism - play - poetry - positive thoughts - possessions - potential - poverty - power - praise
- prejudice - pride - principle - problems - progress - prosperity - purpose - reading -recreation - reflection - relationships
religion - reputation - resentment - respect - responsibility - rest - revenge - risk - role models - running - ruts - sadness - safety
seasons of life - self - self-love - self-pity - self-reliance - self-respect selfishness - serving others - shame - silence - simplicity
slowing down - smiles -solitude - sorrow - spirit - stories - strength - stress - stupidity - success - suffering - talent
the tapestry of life - teachers - thoughts - time - today - tolerance - traditions - trees - trust - truth - unfulfilled dreams - values
vanity - virtue - vulnerability - walking - war - wealth - weight issues - wisdom - women - wonder - work - worry - worship
youth - spring - summer - fall - winter - Christmas - Thanksgiving - New Year - America - Zen sayings - articles & excerpts
Native American wisdom - The Law of Attraction - obstacles to living life fully - e-zine archives - quotations contents
our most recent e-zine - Great Thinkers - the people behind the words


Emotional and psychological pain were to become, perhaps, the most
powerful force in molding the course of my life.  For some people, pain
and hurt breed bitterness and cynicism.  For others it causes them to
look deeply into themselves and into life itself in an attempt to understand
the meaning beneath seemingly capricious or arbitrary happenings.

Joseph F. Girzone
Never Alone