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The Stranger: Selling Out

November 12, 2010

On a day that began like any other day a well-dressed stranger came to town. He stopped at Estella’s house (for that was the girl’s name) and spoke to her parents, while Estella was sent outside to play. The stranger offered to buy Estella. “I will pay you well for your daughter, and you will have no need to scrape by for food any longer. She will be well taken care of.” Her mother and father thought the stranger was nice, and what a relief it would be to have some money! Besides, they reasoned, Estella will be much better off with this gentleman.

The perceived path back to ease and comfort for Estella’s parents comes in the form of a stranger who offers to buy Estella. Who is this stranger? Is he a devil or an angel? Or both?

The stranger is that unknown element that enters our life at certain times, an element we must find a way to interact with. It’s a newness, a strangeness, and it keeps us on our toes, makes us wary and aware. Do we trust it? The stranger seems to provide a solution to problems facing us, but at what cost? How high is the price we pay for the easy way out that the stranger offers?

The stranger offers to buy Estella. The parents think it through, reasoning that they could use the money and justifying their desire by saying their daughter will be much better off. It’s reason, thinking, that sells the child, the authentic being, not heart or gut. What would the heart or gut have said in that situation? What happens when we make decisions based solely on one part of ourselves—rationality—at the expense of others?

As children, we can experience this loss of power through being “sold out” to ideas about how we should behave: children should be seen and not heard, children should behave certain ways. Children encounter many shoulds, and anyone who has spent time around small children knows that any shoulds have to be imposed. In their free flowing beingness, free from the shoulds, children naturally point out to adults the discrepancy and distance between the flow of being and the impositions of culture and society. The culture’s shoulds are often imposed out of the sense that the child will be better off, and in some ways, this is true. Rules and customs are necessary for us to live with each other. The challenge is finding the right balance between teaching how to get along while not shoving down a child’s natural spontaneity and authentic being.

As adults, we continue this loss of power through selling ourselves out to ideas about how we should behave, how we should live, or to situations or people that we give up something to without choice and awareness of what we are gaining in return.

Remember too that my fundamental stance is that it is necessary for this loss to happen, this disorienting dilemma to take place. Without it, we could never realize what we have lost and go through the trials to regain it. Thus, there is no point to blame or shame or guilt or pointing the finger. The parents aren’t to blame, the stranger isn’t to blame, Estella is not to blame. It is what happens, and in its happening, we find out who we really are.

Do you recall a fundamental loss of power from when you were young? What about more recently, how have you, or how are you, selling yourself out and losing your power to a person, situation, or even internal voice? Who or what is the stranger within you?

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 13, 2010 4:32 pm

    Ah the loss of power. I lost my power at an early age to a mom who was domineering and controlling. She told me when to jump and how high. I was her puppet, waiting to be directed.
    As an adult I have played out that role with MANY women in my life, them controlling me and my playing the victim. It has taken me many painful experiences to see that those situations were screaming at me to take back control over my own life. To take back my power.

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