Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Person of the Year

Person of the Year. I am still in shock, but from the moment I picked up Time Magazine with my face on the Mylar cover announcing that I had been chosen as 2006’s Person of the Year I knew they had made the right choice.

I mean I can’t be the only one who thinks about me all day long, others must be aware of how important I am. Yes, people publish and purchase my books. Yes, Spirituality and Health Magazine has hired me to do a regular column called Roadside Assistance for Your Spiritual Journey. Yes I recently did a segment of Hallmark Channel’s New Morning show, but these pale next to the honor of being chosen Person of the Year. Can a Nobel be far behind? Seriously, can it?

While some may call this narcissistic, I find it perfectly normal and take my inspiration from Rabbi Hillel: If I am not for myself who will be for me? The implied answer is, “no one.” So, to bring Hillel into the 21st century: If I don’t put myself on the cover of Time Magazine, who will?

Of course Hillel seeks to balance his song of the self with, “If I am only for myself what am I?” I think the real answer to this is, “focused.” Who has time to be for self and others? Honestly, being for myself is a full time job. Look at any marketing book on building a successful brand and you realize that brand YOU is all-important and totally time consuming.

The thing that surprises me, however, is that Time didn’t notify me in advance of my being chosen. Then again, neither did God when He picked me for His Chosen People award. If Time had let me know I would have feigned surprise, humbly accepted, and then recited a speech I had written years ago entitled, “When Chosen as Time’s Person of the Year:”

“I want to thank the board of Time Magazine for this incredible honor. While I knew that this would happen one day, I am shocked and humbled that it is today. I realize that your choice identifies the one person who for better or worse has most impacted the world during the previous twelve months. Having reviewed my behavior over this past year I am still wondering about which category into which I fall. For every kindness I may have done, I can think of one or two times where I have been the source of someone’s pain. And then there is the nagging awareness that I really haven’t done anything on my own. Everything I have, think, and feel is really the product of forces outside my control. While I am responsible for what I do, I never act in isolation. So there is no real person here at all, no one independent will that should be credited with anything. There is just an infinite complex of events that I reduce to a manageable story that I call myself. So maybe the choice shouldn’t have been me but us, not I but the entire system of I’ing that is the universe. And while I do mean this, I want to make it clear that if there is a check involved in this award, placing my name alone on the recipient line is just fine. Thank you.”

The speech went undelivered, and no check has arrived in the mail, but being Time’s Person of the Year is reward enough. If you haven’t already done so, pick a copy of the magazine and see me on the cover. I promise it will be worth it.

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