Ellen Degeneres at Tulane – UPDATED

UPDATE: I initially posted this video without comment because I didn’t want to influence anyone’s thinking on it.

A pal of mine watched and wrote back, “Why do I feel emotional pain after watching that?”

I don’t know if she meant it as a good, salutary sort of pain, or a bad one, but I had found the video moving, also, and I think it’s because Degeneres is nakedly honest there, about her whole life and her self; I don’t know if we see that sort of honesty anymore, from too many people. She’s very courageous and forthright, and I admire that a lot.

And too, I think she spoke a great deal of plain truth. Polonius advised his son, “to thy own self be true” but Degeneres spells out the loss and pain that can come from doing exactly that. The truth – the whole truth – is one part courage, one part discipline and two parts sacrifice; the great paradox of life is that one must be willing to sacrifice one’s very self in order to wholly own who one is. Rather like the gospel admonition: “who would lose his life will save it.”

There comes a moment in all of our lives when we get a sense of what we are born for. Degeneres got it when she wrote that letter to God. Whether she realized it or not, she had a blessing at that moment; a revelation. In her exquisite pain she wrote the whole, honest truth; she revealed herself or, in another sense, gave herself up. And in response she got the truth back at her, an answer, in the form of a “showing” (or a knowing if you will) of what her life would be.

I’ve heard many people talk about the crystalline moment when they suddenly “knew” something or “envisioned” something in their lives and it turned out precisely as it was seen or known. In fact, something very similar happened in my life, when I -also in a moment of huge pain and confusion- spoke to God from the depths of my heart, and rose to my feet knowing with certainty that my life had a plan and a purpose; that plan and purpose began unfolding within hours, and continues to unfold, instruct and reveal itself to me.

It’s a very intense thing, the truth, and often painful. It’s one of the reasons, I think, that some people prefer having a “choice” as to living or dying (or allowing others to live or die); so many people want the biggest, most intensely painful and real events of their lives (childbirth and death, for instance) to be tempered and made painless. But that is living life in a sort of anesthetized state, feeling nothing but “fine,”

When every blow is softened for us, how do we ever get to the deep down bones-naked truths of our lives, where love and pain reside and joy somehow fits itself between the two? The place that can only be answered and consoled, finally, by Truth, itself?

This is a deceptively powerful little speech by Degeneres; it is a challenge to go deep.

At the deepest part of our bones, we find our blood-and-tissue regenerating marrow. At the deepest part of our bodies, we find our material essences.
At the deepest part our hearts, in the abysses of our own spirits, we find our whole, revealed selves.

Jesus made the same challenge 2000 years ago: “cast your nets out into the deep.”

It is where you will find your abundance.

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About Elizabeth Scalia