Are you a puppet?
Puppets amuse us because although we usually can’t see the strings, we know they’re there.
Puppets move awkwardly but after a while we cease to notice it. Their mouths don’t make the subtle adjustments that would prove they were actually speaking the words we hear, but we accept that they are. Their eyes may be fixed but we overlook that.
We delight in allowing ourselves to be fooled, to be drawn into a make-believe world where combinations of wood, cardboard, felt, screws and springs are brought to life. We nestle into theatre chairs, ready to be entertained.
Strings, disembodied voices, stage manipulation, music and sound effects create the magic realism of a puppet show. We focus on the puppets, never thinking about the puppeteers — the people hidden behind the curtain, pulling the strings.
Who’s pulling your strings?
What invisible entity, event or concept is manipulating you?
Perhaps you think it’s the government, your parents, recent history, the neighbour from hell, your ancestral roots, the weather or current world events.
Whatever you think is doing it, is.
You are the victim of your choice of puppeteer.
But you don’t need to have a puppeteer. You can release the strings that bind you.
What would happen if Pinocchio decided to unhook himself from the strings while he was walking across the stage? He’d suddenly crumple in a heap on the floor, a powerless collection of scraps of stuff incapable of movement. Pinocchio would experience a breakdown.
When we let go of the props that have been holding us up or dictating our movements for a long time, we may fall into a heap too. It will take some adjusting before we can rise up from the floor and start living a life that’s true to ourselves.
We don’t need strings. We don’t need manipulating. We don’t need to be controlled from outside ourselves.
We have to learn to be what Thich Nhat Hanh calls a true person, a puppet no longer. We need to stop acting a role, in order to step into being our true, deeper self.
In the chapter ‘Your True Person’, Thich Nhat Hanh writes in The Pocket Thich Nhat Hanh:
The true person doesn’t go looking for an outside master. We are in charge of our own destiny and we have to be responsible for each of our words, thoughts, and actions.
He advises us to live consciously, to acknowledge and own what happens in our lives:
I’m thinking like this, I’m responsible for these thoughts. I’ve spoken like that, I’m responsible for my words. I’m doing this, and I’m responsible for this action.
Enjoy a puppet show.
But be a true person.
Taking the FREE 7-Day Mindfulness Challenge is a great starting point!
With love, Marlane
Original version published on Medium.com/Illumination