Remember pink slips? OK, so I am giving away my age here, but who cares! For those of you who DON’T know what a pink slip is, I’ll explain.
When I was in high school, you weren’t allowed to wander the halls outside of class without a pink slip. It had to be issued by one of the teachers, or the school nurse, or the principal. In short, you had to be given PERMISSION to be outside of the classroom and it had to say where you were allowed go.
I can remember a day when I had the WORST sore throat of my life. It actually made me cry when I swallowed! So I finally got up the nerve to ask my teacher if I could go see the school nurse. He issued me the precious pink slip and I walked out of the classroom into the hall. It was a strange feeling to see it so empty. After all, the only time I WAS allowed in the hall was during class change, when it was packed with noisy, rambunctious teenagers, all laughing, pushing each other, flirting with each other and trying like mad to “fit in.”
Now it was strangely quiet and it felt somehow “forbidden” to be here. I could look through the little windows in each classroom door and watch my fellow students in class (even though they were unaware I was watching them.) It was almost like looking at myself in there. It was as if I was “seeing myself” from the outside. And like I said, it felt strange and like something I wasn’t supposed to be doing. At least, not without permission.
So, to finish the story, I went to the nurse’s office, she took my temperature and sure enough, I had a fever. She called my mom, who came and got me and took me home (and eventually to the doctor, who diagnosed strepthroat.)
But what I want to talk about here is that pink slip. My permission slip to walk the otherwise forbidden halls. To me, it is a perfect analogy to life. We spend it working, playing, laughing and trying to fit in. We follow the rules (well, some of us do!) and sort of follow along and just wait see where life takes us.
But once in awhile, we stop and do something forbidden, like question the status quo. We have a moment of awareness – an “ah hah” moment – when we see ourselves from that little window in the classroom door – and we wonder what the heck we are doing in there! We begin to realize that we have been doing what we thought we SHOULD do, following all the rules that were imposed on us, from the day we were born. And suddenly, we realize that it’s not even what we WANT to be doing! We realize, that there are so many other things we COULD be doing, that would really make us happy!
And the good news is this – it is never too late to do what you COULD do!
As Hugh Prather wrote in his book “Notes to myself”:
“If I had only…forgotten future greatness and looked at the green things and the natural world and reached out to those around me and smelled the air and ignored the forms and the self-styled obligations and heard the rain on the roof and put my arms around my wife…and it’s not too late.”
He also wrote:
“Being real is more a process of letting go than it is the effort of becoming. I don’t really have to become me, although at times it feels that way – I am already me. And that is both the easiest and the hardest thing for me to realize.”
So today, I am giving you a gift. I am issuing you a PINK SLIP. I am giving you PERMISSION to step outside the classroom and look at yourself from the outside.
Oh, and by the way, this is a very special PINK SLIP. It has no expiration and no destination… So, you have a choice:
You can go back inside the classroom, Or - you can fill in the “destination” part on your own.