By Dr. Steve
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Play the Match Game
are the products of editing, rather than authorship.
Our path is illuminated when the essence of who we are is expressed in the
way we live our life.
often ask me if my life has changed much since my first two books, Building Better Bridges
and Moving Mountains, were published. I tell them that nothing has changed except for one
see, theres one person in my life who has made it her personal mission to see that
nothing about me changes. She keeps me grounded. She reminds me of who I am. She spares no
words when she thinks I am getting too big for my britches.
wrote about her in Moving Mountains. Her name is Sylvia. Shes been tending bar for
almost forty years. For the last fifteen years my name, in her mind, was simply Little
Stevie. But that is the one thing that has changed since I have started writing.
no longer Little Stevie. No, whenever I go visit her now, upon seeing me she immediately
yells out, Well, if it isnt Mr. Big-Shot-Writer or So Mr.
Big-Shot-Writer, whatll it be?
a couple of weeks ago I went to visit Sylvia. I was on a mission of sorts. I had just
finished a meeting with my editor, showing her the outline for this book. My editor was
mystified that I had left Sylvia out of this book, so I was instructed to go see Sylvia
and get her to make some kind of contribution.
reluctantly agreed to go, you see Sylvia has been getting harder to live with since her
appearance in Moving Mountains.
walked into the bar and there was Sylvia with the ever-present cigarette hanging out of
her mouth, leaning on the top of the bar, gabbing with a couple of the regulars. As soon
as she saw me, she motioned for me to join her, pushing two of the customers out of the
way so that I could sit at the bar.
Mr. Big-Shot-Writer, how nice of you to come around to see me, where ya been? she
explained to Sylvia how busy I had been, reminding her that I had called her twice in the
last week to check up on her.
Mr. Big-Shot-Writer, what brings you around tonight? her tone telling me she
was not at all placated by the idea that I had been keeping in touch.
explained to Sylvia about the meeting I had with my editor and her request to have Sylvia
contribute to the new book I was working on.
stared at me for a moment, then smiled. Before I could bat an eye, she quickly reached
underneath the bar, pulling out a file that was at least three inches thick.
she leafed through the file, she said, You know Mr. Big-Shot-Writer, Ive been
making some notes, you know, just in case you needed me to help you again with your next
Ive been thinking about how we can do this book a little differently. You know your
last book, Running On the Hillside?
that would be Moving Mountains, I corrected her.
With that said, in one swift motion, Sylvia grabbed a bar towel and flicked it at my
forehead, striking me between the eyes. I told you to stop correcting me all of the
wiped the tears from my stinging eyes, I thought to myself that this is what they must
mean when they say an artist must suffer for his craft.
that book--it had way too many words in it. We can make this one a lot shorter.
writing a book, not a brochure, I offered somewhat defensively.
yea, youre always so sensitive. Now listen to me. If your readers follow this one
idea, they wont need to read anything else.
tell me what the idea is and Ill see if we can use it, I said somewhat
settle down, just settle down and Ill tell you, you hear? she shot back.
you ready? Now listen real careful.
that said, she leaned over and whispered in my ear as if she was about to reveal some
secret concerning national security. Your innards gotta match your outards,
I exclaimed, feeling like I was in a time warp talking to ol Granny Clampett.
know what I mean. Your life is working for you when the inside of you matches your life on
I dont know what you mean, I said, slumping forward in my chair, my head
falling to the bar top.
slugged me in the arm and said, Well then, listen real good, Mr. Big-Shot. I was
with Marge yesterday. We were shopping for some furniture for her new apartment. Anyway,
the man who waited on us, he was a miserable soul. You know how I can tell?
didnt wait for me to answer.
insides didnt match his outsides. His mouth smiled at us but his eyes were dark as
night. He talked real fast but his words didnt say a damn thing. He acted like we
were the most important people in the world, but he always kept one eye peeled on the
front door checking out whether he was missing out on his next customer.
I said not getting her point.
sonny. Ive been behind this bar a long time. Ive seen them come and go. Oh,
you got your big fancy words for it, depression, anxiety, whats that word you taught
me a couple of weeks ago, actual..., actual...?
dont need any of those big fancy words. You know why? I can tell the happy ones from
the not so happy ones. You know how I can tell?
had an answer all ready for her but she kept talking without pause.
happy ones, they always match. Their eyes, their eyes tell me a story about who they are
on the inside. No one can fake the eyes. And thats what Im trying to tell you.
This guy wasnt real. He didnt want to be there selling furniture. He
didnt want to be there dealing with us.
what is so damn helpful about you and Marge buying furniture from this guy?
tell em Mr. Big-Shot-Writer, you tell your readers that Sylvia says to start getting their
lives to match.
what? as usual, I was totally exasperated trying to follow her logic.
theyre doing with who they are? Listen, life is hard enough without us making it
harder, you know what I mean?
all need to find our place in life and be happy with whatever that is. We all need to know
our insides, so we can get our outsides to match.
many people are like zombies. You know how I can tell?
started to mouth my answer but she didnt take that as a signal to stop and listen.
wind up with jobs that dont match them, they wind-up with boyfriends, girlfriends,
husbands, wives, all of them, they dont match. They wind up spending most of their
lives doing things that dont match what they like to do.
you ever ask em why, Mr. Big-Shot-Psychologist? Cause I dont get it. Why do so
many of them refuse to let go of their lives? You know, let go of all of that dead
scratched my head and ticked off the some of the reasons I had been told throughout the
years, I dunno, mortgages to be paid; retirement plans to maintain; dont want
to disappoint their parents; dont want to hurt their children; its a lot more
complicated than you make it seem; Steve, its easier to stay quietly numb, I
dont believe I deserve anything different, its my parents fault.
what Im trying to tell you, Mr. Big-Shot. Look at me. Ive been tending bar my
whole life. Been with my old man forever. Got more hobbies than I have time for. Organize
the bake sale for the food shelter every year. I love it all. Know how you can tell?
I quickly put my hand over her mouth and hurriedly shouted out, Because it
she removed my hand from her mouth she said with a look of satisfaction, You betcha
Mr. Big-Shot-Writer, because it matches.
so Sylvia may have a point. In fact, I know she does. Illuminating the Path: our inside
matching our outside. I suppose that is the eventual outcome of awakening our soul and
liberating our spirit.
word I would use is congruent, but that really is the same as matches. When people come to
see me, they really are searching for what that match is. They may not say it that way.
They may not even recognize it that way, but much of the pain we experience in our
life stems from the fact that some aspect of our lives doesnt match the essence of
who we are.
and time again I walk down the very lonely path with another person helping them to
discover what is locked up inside of them. I often think of it as finding a magical lamp
that lives inside of us. You know what I mean? There is this old dusty lamp inside of us
that we only need to dust off and then release the magical genie that lives within it.
the genie is released, we only need learn how to use the genie to help us construct a life
that is congruent with who we are. Or in the words of Sylvia, We only need to have
our innards match our outards.
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