In the award winning but chilling movie, No Country for Old Men, there is a scene between the psychopath Anton and a woman called Carla Jean, an innocent bystander. If you have not seen the movie, Anton Chigurh kills people with complete disassociation from humanity. It is his chilling absence of emotion that makes his character so compelling and repulsive. The results are not good for Carla Jean.
Carla Jean Moss: You don’t have to do this.
Anton Chigurh: [smiles] People always say the same thing.
Carla Jean Moss: What do they say?
Anton Chigurh: They say, “You don’t have to do this.”
Carla Jean Moss: You don’t.
Anton Chigurh: Okay. [Chigurh flips a coin and covers it with his hand]
Anton Chigurh: This is the best I can do. Call it.
Carla Jean Moss: I knowed you was crazy when I saw you sitting there. I knowed exactly what was in store for me.
Anton Chigurh: Call it.
Carla Jean Moss: No. I ain’t gonna call it.
Anton Chigurh: Call it.
Carla Jean Moss: The coin don’t have no say. It’s just you.
What Carla Jean refused to do was to surrogate her power to a coin, or more specifically, to a coin toss. She handed the power right back to Anton, the place where it always rested. The risk she took of course was that it may cost her her life. Literally. But she knew, at some primal level, that to surrogate to the coin, she was in violation of the last remnant of dignity she had left. Her own power. I am not sure I would have had the courage, or the fortitude, to do as she did. Indeed, until recently, I may not have had the wisdom to see how specifically I was handing my power of life and death to a coin, and not the man behind the toss, who by holding the gun, was the one choosing whether to kill or not.
How many times do we surrogate to a coin, or the government, or to a person we believe has more power than us? The tragedy is that we do with every single day, every single time we handle a coin, or a note, or participate in our system of government. Or when we say to ourselves that someone has more power, more authority, than I.
In my own life I have had to look with exquisite and painful detail at where I have handed my power away. I am quite sure I am not done with this inquiry, as it as deep an inquiry as is to accept full responsibility for my world without any blame.
Today while I was the recipient of an amazing energetic coaching session from the very gifted Emily Gendron, I saw in a beautiful inner visual montage, the light of me, of my source, and how I have diminished that light around some people. Similarly, how I, at times, think my light shines brighter than others. Righteousness. Such a nasty way of being. How good I have been at righteousness. It makes me shudder. I pray for forgiveness from all the people I have inflicted with my righteousness.
In this inner montage, I saw the lights of all beings, shining equally bright. Dancing and interacting with each other. We need the dance, because on our own, while our light shines with equal brightness, we are incomplete. An orchestra is not made from a single note.
How many times have I given my authority away to another? How many times have I enslaved myself? I listen to people who have signed an agreement to be bullied every day at work. It’s called a paycheck. But they still have the power to choose. No matter how smart and charismatic the ‘authority’, no matter his or her personal power, no matter how big the paycheck. Being bullied, being verbally and emotionally abused, is a choice that we, the recipient makes. We can choose to walk. The price may be high, rarely as high as Carla Jeans. But at what price is dignity? At what price is being our own Source?
Even more scary is to consider, over the course of my life, how many times I may have been the ‘authority.’ The ‘great’ righteous one. Less and less, methinks, but worth really considering.
I have had a pattern of surrogating my power to highly charismatic, highly intelligent men. Of being blinded by the glamour. Spell cast by magicians. Seduced by the offer of something I feel is lacking in me…knowledge, skill, money, fame, success and the illusions of all of this. While I have allowed myself to fall under the spell, I then give away almost every part of myself. My money, my energy, my spirit…trading it all for the possibility of some bejeweled state. The prostitute in full flight. (To be clear, I have not traded my body. I am speaking of the prostitute as an archetype, selling your soul for money.) Oh me, oh my! How weak is my sense of self? How little do I think of my own light? It is time for this pattern to be done in my life.
Fortunately, I have always awoken from the spell in enough time to pull out of the death spiral. And in so doing, break the illusion. But not before considerable damage has been done.
We are all on paths to hold true to our own inner power. Not power over, but the source of our gifts, our spirit, our light. It does not mean that we are perfect, far from it. It means that we can show up in our perfect imperfections and be whole. We all have our seducers, people, and things to which we surrogate our soul. Like the horcruxes in Harry Potter, we split our soul into parts, leaving it in places, or with people we think have more than we have. And so we walk around the world, fragments of our self, mistakenly thinking that in so doing we will be stronger.
And like Harry Potter, or Carla Jean, to fully heal requires the willingness to clearly choose self respect and dignity, and to stand empowered in the certainty of our own light even in the face of the death of all that is an illusion. I aspire to the courage of these two fictional characters.
Where do you surrogate your power?