I never thought that I’d be writing a post based on Charlie Chaplin, but I am. I’ve been very surprised to find that he’s said and written some impressive stuff.
Firstly, I found some text (poem?) that he supposedly wrote on his 70th birthday, although there is some disagreement about this and some people say [this turned out to be so wrong – see the comments at the bottom] that it was actually a translation of text from the book “When I Loved Myself Enough” by Kim & Alison McMillen. I don’t really care what the origin of this text is, I found it very poignant and moving for me.
Here is the complete text.
Charlie Chaplin – as I began to love myself
As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know, this is “AUTHENTICITY”.
As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody if I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me. Today I call it “RESPECT”.
As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow. Today I call it “MATURITY”.
As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment. So I could be calm. Today I call it “SELF-CONFIDENCE”.
As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm. Today I call it “SIMPLICITY”.
As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it is “LOVE OF ONESELF”.
As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is “MODESTY”.
As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worrying about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where everything is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it “FULFILLMENT”.
As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this connection “WISDOM OF THE HEART”.
We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born. Today I know “THAT IS LIFE”!
Almost every word of this text resonates with me. I find it very special and very wise.
As I began to love myself…
I was struck by how almost every sentence starts with “As I began to love myself…” which doesn’t mean love in the sense of an unhealthy infatuation and belief that you are better than others. It means to have a healthy respect and compassion for ourselves and to acknowledge that we have a definite, fundamental potential to do good in the world.
I think that beginning to love myself was the key ingredient for me to lose weight (see How did I lose 75 pounds?). When I was very heavy, I didn’t really have enough respect and compassion for myself. I thought I wasn’t worthy. I didn’t think I was as good as everybody else. Somewhere along the way (probably during this training course) I began to realize that I was worthy of my own respect and compassion, and this changed everything. All of a sudden it was worth taking care of my body and I began to find ways to make myself healthier.
When I read the words “As I began to love myself…” I thought that maybe this is common in life. Maybe we lose our way during life and, at some point, have to learn to love ourselves again.
Reminders of Mindfulness and the Power of the Mind
The second last paragraph is particularly powerful;
It’s becoming pretty clear to me that the most powerful component of our lives is our mind. It we don’t control it, we don’t control our lives. If we make use of its power, there’s almost nothing we can’t do.
Reminders of The Hero’s Journey
The very last paragraph causes me to remember the work of Joseph Campbell, well summarized in the film Finding Joe. “Even when stars collide” there is nothing to fear. It is just part of our journey through life. Good things, better things, are on the other side of what appears to be bad.
As part of my research into Charlie Chaplin, I found a speech that he made as the lead character in his 1940 movie The Great Dictator. I’d never heard of this movie before and I’d never heard Charlie Chaplin speak, so this speech was surprising and moving.
Please take the time to play this short video of Charlie Chaplin’s speech.
A fun graphic of “As I began to love myself…”
Finally I found this fun graphic capturing the text of “As I began to love myself…” from mindvalleyacademy.com.
Graphic source – http://mindvalleyacademy.com
Charlie Chaplin – ahead of his time?
I’m surprised by the wisdom in the text quoted here and in the speech from Charlie’s movie that was made 74 years ago. The sentiments expressed could have been written or spoken today and have the same impact.
Have we known everything that we should be doing all along? It appears so. The right direction in life might be as simple as just acting on the things we know, deep down, are the right things to do.