What Are You Gonna Do Today, Napoleon?
“Do with your Self whatever it is you want to do. You can trust your Self.”
– Glennon Doyle, “Untamed”
Have you ever seen the movie, Napoleon Dynamite?
I finally saw it for the first time a few weeks ago…and am still laughing when I think back to some of the kookiest scenes (and there are many).
My all-time favourite scene is near the beginning. The main character, Napoleon Dynamite, is the geekiest teenage boy imaginable – from the top of his frizzy-haired head to the tip of his Moon Boots (worn even in warm weather). Looking bored and full of disdain, he is waiting for the school bus to pick him up. When it does, it is filled with kids far younger than him.
He walks to his usual spot at the back of the bus and sits down. The little kid across the aisle asks him, “What are you gonna do today, Napoleon?”
In true teenager fashion, Napoleon snaps in disgust, “Whatever I FEEL like I wanna do…Gaaawsh!”
To prove his point, he then proceeds to throwing a plastic toy, attached to his backpack by a string, out the bus window. Then both he and the kid who asked him the question watch the toy bounce along behind the bus.
Whenever I need a laugh, I watch this short clip on You Tube. It cracks me up.
But there is another reason I love this clip.
Napoleon’s pissy ‘tude is a powerful reminder of the fact that regardless of where we are in our lives, we do still have some choice as to what we are going to DO in any given moment.
Granted, most of won’t choose to exercise this freedom by tossing a plastic toy out the window and watching it bounce along behind a bus 😊But it doesn’t matter what we choose to do (as long as it doesn’t harm ourselves or others); what matters is that we remember we HAVE a choice. Click To Tweet
Which brings me (again) to Glennon Doyle’s brilliant book, “Untamed.”
Here is a passage that explains the difference between surface desires and deep desires:
“I wrote to my community recently: Do with your Self whatever it is you want to do. You can trust your Self. Someone responded,
Isn’t it irresponsible to suggest that we should do whatever we want to do? Most nights, by the time I get home I want to drink an entire bottle of Malibu. Pretty sure I shouldn’t trust all my desires.
That woman’s nightly desire for a bottle of Malibu? That was just as a surface desire. I know this because her Knowing didn’t trust it. A surface desire is one that conflicts with our Knowing. We must ask our surface desires: What is the desire beneath this desire? Is it rest? Is it peace?
Our deep desires are wise, true, beautiful, and things we can grant ourselves without abandoning our Knowing. Following our deep desire always returns us to integrity. If your desire feels wrong to you: Go deeper. You can trust yourself.”
Like many teenagers (and plenty of adults), Napoleon Dynamite felt his life – and all the people in it – really sucked. His surface desire was an attempt to bring himself some happiness by throwing a toy out the bus window. But as the movie unfolded, we see that his deeper desire was to connect with people who loved, understood, and accepted him for the oddball character he was.
One of these people was another student by the name of Pedro. On their own, they were two lonely, unpopular, unhappy teenagers who didn’t fit in. As friends, however, they learned to support and encourage each other…and in the process, created a friendship that changed the outcome of the student election. Against all odds of winning, Pedro was running for President – so Napoleon had a special t-shirt made to support and promote him.
I loved the film – and the message – so much, I bought my own t-shirt. It arrived in the mail the other day 😊
What surface desire might you currently be experiencing…and why? Here are a few options:
#1. Drink a bottle of Malibu (to temporarily escape from the stress of your life, instead of dealing with the source of that stress).
#2. Run away to Fiji with a Brazilian soccer player (fantasizing about what it would be like to feel passion in the bedroom again, instead of being honest with the person you share your bed with)
#3. Eat a tray of brownies (to stuff down the hurt that keeps coming to the surface, damn it, instead of letting that hurt surface…and processing it)
#4. Run away from yet another relationship once it hits turbulence (instead of recognizing and changing the pattern that causes that turbulence. Every. Single. Time.)
#5. Watching Netflix, You Tube, surfing the web (deliberately allowing yourself to get distracted by other people’s creative content instead of creating your own)
The buffet of surface desires (otherwise known as coping mechanisms) is endless. But at the end of the day, it is really important that we are honest with ourselves, and each other, and find the courage to go deep and figure out what we really want – peace, freedom, joy, creative expression, passion, connection, adventure, equality – then take whatever action/s necessary.
“The blueprints of heaven are etched in the deep desires of women. What women want is good. What women want is beautiful… If women trusted and claimed their desires, the world as we know it would crumble. Perhaps that is precisely what needs to happen so we can rebuild truer, more beautiful lives, relationships, families and nations in their place.”
– Glennon Doyle, “Untamed”
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Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and a Director with the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. To receive her weekly blog, Weekly Words of Wisdom, subscribe here.