You may have loved Paul Young’s “Every time you go away” as much as I did, but I did not just love it for it’s smooth 80’s rock ballad self. No. I heard this song and literally pictured a man walking down the street, dressed in business attire, (complete with a suit and fedora hat), with a small, yet juicy piece of steak clutched between his fingers. I actually believed this to be the exact lyric until I was well into my 20’s and some poor soul, (probably my husband), popped my steak bubble and ruined it for me. Meat juice everywhere.
You see, I not only held on to this image for the greater part of 2 decades, but I cherished it so much so that it had become a part of me.
Although I still sing it my way, the song has never been or meant the same to me since. This is the power of belief!
Someone may very well have heard me singing this song as a little girl, perhaps my Mom or Dad, peering into the backyard as I made “soup” out of dog food for the 100th time, and thought, “Do I correct her? Nope, poor sap. I’m just gonna let her have this one”. Others, most certainly an older kid at school and a mouth breather may have heard me humming my version of said lyrics and made a point to let me know that I was singing it all wrong. If so, I do not remember. And yet, it is very probable that a scenario like this did happen. So, why did I not remember it? The answer is simple- stubborn belief. My own version of the song was (is) so much better, that I didn’t even recognize the real (lamer) version of the song as truth.
One of the ways Psychology explains this is through self-deception; our ability to rationalize or deny logic and reason for our own version of truth, or lack thereof. I find a more powerful way to contemplate this is through yoga with the Sanskrit term, avidya. Avidya literally translates to without or wrong knowledge. It also means ignorance and is the opposite of the word for correct knowledge, vidya. The ‘a’ at the beginning of the word is what changes the entire meaning. What simply clever and succinct yogis!
I have encountered avidya many times in my 34 years on this planet. I still struggle with the belief that I am not a good enough ______________, (fill in the blank depending on my day- mother, wife, artist, writer, creative…)
While this is constant work for me, there is one experience with a student and a family that I still remember vividly to this day as the perfect example of avidya. Enter Matt. (Not his real name).
I had been working with Matt for about four years now and he had the outward appearance of your typical teen and stereotypical “troublemaker”. He always had some snarky thing to say, (read- a great sense of humor), often argumentative with teachers & didn’t do his work, experimented with drugs, had lots of “bling” in his ears, (all typical teen behavior and attire)…the kind of kid that if either of my children brought home to meet me, I would scream inside while smiling and shaking his hand. However, I will need to remember this when that time comes because I had the pleasure of really getting to know this young man and he was, and is, a very loving, funny, smart, loyal, and giving human being.
Matt was about to graduate and was having his last parent-teacher-student conference of the year, so I made sure to be there to sprinkle the joy. One of the best parts of being a Socio-Emotional School Counselor is that you get to be the joy sprinkler at these types of things, often shedding light for these students’ families on how amazing their offspring truly are. In fact, this should have been my exact title- ***Sprinkler of Joy***.
This is exactly what happened on the day in question. I was sprinkling my joy all over Matt and his parents. They were crying. I was crying. Then I said something that unearthed a belief that had unfortunately stuck with them throughout the years. I know this because when I said it, they cried exceedingly hard tears of joy, the kind that can only be reserved for when someone else finally sees their child for what they know as truth, buried beneath the avidya. I said- “I feel that somewhere along the line in Matt’s life, someone told him he was a bad kid and a poor student. And this has stuck with him and impacted him in many ways. I do not see this, nor have I ever seen this to be true.”
Sprinkle, sprinkle, sprinkle.
I said a whole lot more of course, and would like to think that I yanked off this layer of avidya that day so everyone could see it for what it truly was- a shitty mask. A misheard lyric. His very own, albeit much more emotionally devastating, popped steak bubble. But I cannot be sure, and that’s okay.
Thanks to social media, I am still able to keep in contact with him and see that he appears to be living a happy, healthy, and ***sparkly*** life.
Hell, if Louis CK can move through life truly believing that the word “vagina” was pronounced “vaginer”, there is hope for us all. (Yes, I made sure you have to click on the word "vaginer" to watch this amazingly funny clip which is probably NSFW).
P.S., a little gift before you leave- the best misheard lyrics of all time. Make me fries!