Lean on me

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

-Bill Withers

“So self-reliant,” they would say. Parents, aunts, uncles, neighbors, and teachers; referring to the way I seemed to have entered this world so assured and independent, preferring to take charge of myself and those around me than lean on others. How they would marvel at the way I took care of myself and also pitched in to care for and educate brothers, cousins, and playmates while freely dispensing cooking, parenting, and organizational advice to my bemused elders.

“Self-reliant.” I remember repeating the term silently in my head instead of counting sheep as I tried to fall asleep. Spelling it out, letter by letter, like a kind of personal mantra, taking great pride in its continual utterance among those I hoped most to impress. It would take many years to recognize that my greatest strength had also proved my greatest weakness, a barrier to truly opening myself to receiving love and support from others. And many more to understand that my robotic reliance on the self I think I am had literally cost me the “everything” of remembering our true shared and single identity beyond this dream of exile from all-inclusive Love.

I bring this up because I’ve been watching the self I still largely think I am become fearful again about certain situations in the dream with which it has unresolved ego issues. My daughter is away this week providing my dejected dog and I a little preview of what our lives will be like on a day-to-day basis once she leaves for college at the end of August. Then, too, I’m teaching a class and preparing for a talk at a book signing later this week that threatens to expose self-reliant Susan as a sniveling, cowering imposter. And yet a part of me knows there is a strength in me beyond this personal, lower case “s” self that remains forever invulnerable and always truly helpful. I need only lean on this always available part of my mind to look gently and compassionately at Susan’s ego antics—or the seeming meltdowns of any other dream figure–without joining with them. Still, I am not, you know; a natural leaner.

I know this personal self I’ve identified with for so many years is really nothing but “a defense against the truth” of our one, real capital “S” self; the one child of God we remain that could never be divided. Our one identity seamlessly and eternally fused with our one creator upon which no hallucination of separation and differentiation had any effect. But because we believe it did, we rely on the special interests of our special selves, believing these physical fences erected of bone, blood, and sinew we spin out our days attempting to strengthen and protect will somehow keep us safe. Will allow us to prove our innocence versus the greater guilt of those “others” seemingly “out there” while keeping us so busy defending our territory and viewpoints we continue to forget we have a mind that chose to believe in an idle fantasy to begin with but could, at any moment, choose again to smile, heal, and awaken. If only we surrender our self-reliance and lean on our right mind.

Trouble is the ego in its perpetual sneakiness still sometimes (OK; often) convinces me I should be further along with this Course by now, should be able to simply remain right-minded regardless of the dream’s twists and turns, should be beyond the personal interests my mind on ego uses to try to keep real capital “L” love away. This ego in spirit’s clothing would have me believe I’ve already healed my mind of personal interests rather than allow me to honestly look with my right mind at my lingering attraction to false self-reliance. That way, I forget to do the work of forgiveness that actually mends my split mind and allows me to awaken to my true nature once all my illusions of special interests have dissolved.

To say we have no personal interests regardless of how “far along” we are on the journey home to the wholeness we in truth never left is a lie. Recognizing this causes much denial, resistance, and disappointment in the individual self I still think I am. Nevertheless, the ego hangs in until the very end of the journey–feeding us sensory data designed to keep us invested in protecting and relying on these seemingly separate selves–and ups the ante as we age. Attempting to perpetuate its case for separation realized through fear as children move away, relationships end, our roles in the world change, our own bodies disintegrate, and the “other” bodies we have leaned on disappear.

As I learn to lean on my right mind for translation about what’s really happening in this dream, my reaction and attachment to what Susan does or doesn’t do, has or hasn’t, fears or envies, does begin to fade. The muscle of special self-preservation and judgment gradually begins to atrophy from neglect as I exercise the muscle of forgiveness more and more. That means, of course, that I learn to rely on the part of our shared split mind that sees only our sameness. That recognizes that nothing real was ever threatened by the myriad, bombastic scripts we wrote to prove otherwise and keeps no score about how far along anyone has come on our journey home. But my mind is still split. I still have an ego, and still need a second inner opinion about what seems to be happening to me whenever I’m confused, worried, or upset.

Today, in this moment, I’m willing–for a little while anyway–to tear up my story of self-reliant Susan and recognize that only changing my mind about you will lead me home. Leaning on my right mind means I must see you (and me) differently, and truly. I must release you from the prison house of my personal opinions and wishes if I ever hope to find my one, true Self. As I do this one person and situation at a time, the muscle of the ego thought system continues to weaken as the muscle of my right mind grows, well; buff. And I understand—more gradually than I care to admit but still–that all I really want to do is lean. :).

NOTE: (Wrote this two weeks ago so it’s a little out of sequence.) Interviewing Gary Renard later this week so look for that here soon.
I was interviewed last week by devoted ACIM student and astrologer extraordinaire CA Brooks, host of the Simple Tales radio show. Click here for the interview. (also see Media page).

Check out Pauline Edward’s wonderful new review for Miracles Magazine on my reviews page Click the link, then scroll down to read.


  1. A great reminder to become (as Gary Renard’s work suggests) the ultimate follower – instead of the ultimate leader. Relying on the self I’ve taught myself to believe in doesn’t seeming to be working out that well. 🙂

  2. Yes, Bruce; learning to follow instead of lead is SO much a part of our undoing and, ultimately, so healing! 🙂

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