March 2 – More Power to You – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening
Originally, the word power meant able to be. In time, it was contracted to mean to be able. We suffer the difference.
I was waiting for a plane when I overheard two businessmen. One was sharing the good news that he had been promoted and the other, in congratulation said, “More power to you.”
I’ve heard this expression before, but for some reason I heard it differently this time and thought, what a curious sentiment. As a good wish, the assumption is that power is the good. Of course, it makes a huge difference if we are all wishing others worldly power or inner power. By world power, I mean power over things people and situations – controlling power. By inner power, I mean power that comes from being a part of something larger – connective power.
I can’t be certain, but I’m fairly sure the wish here was for worldly power, for more control. This is commonplace and disturbing, as the wish for more always issues from a sense of lack. So the wish for more power really issues from a sense of powerlessness.
It is painfully ironic that in the land of the free, we so often walk about with an unspoken and enervating lack of personal freedom. Yet the wish for more controlling power will not set us free, anymore than another drink will quench the emptiness of an alcoholic in the grip of his disease.
It makes me think of a game we played when I was nine called King of the Hill, in which seven or eight of us found a mound of dirt, the higher the better, and the goal was to stand alone on top of the hill. Once there, everyone else tried to throw you off, installing themselves as King of the Hill. It strikes me now as a training ground for worldly power.
Clearly, the worst position of all is being King of the Hill. You are completely alone and paranoid, never able to trust anyone, constantly forced to spin and guard every direction. The hills may change from a job to a woman to a prized piece of real estate, but those on top can be so enslaved by guarding their position that they rarely enjoy the view.
I always hated King of the Hill – always felt tense in my gut when king, sad when not, and ostracized if I didn’t want to play. That pattern has followed me through life. But now, as a tired adult, when I feel alone and powerless atop whatever small hill I’ve managed to climb, I secretly long for anyone to join me. Now, I’m ready to believe there’s more power here together.