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Escaping the Prison

Michael F Lipp

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I am bombarded by the sound bites of Wisdom. People forever email me the Dalai Lama’s rules for living; I get a daily quote of the day by email, another from the bridge column I read (the Bridge Column!!). Wise words surround me. They don’t register, of course. They make no difference, but I feel better for having read them and having sagely judged them as either amusing or wise and worth reading.

I think this as I discover one from a most unlikely source. My favorite author is Donald Westlake, master of the comic novel, master of the caper, master of capturing voice in print. I was re-reading Kahawa, an extraordinary novel of Uganda under Idi Amin, and I read this:

Some of us are imprisoned most securely by who we’ve chosen to be

I am first struck by the phrase ‘chosen to be. ’ Westlake does not say ‘what we’ve chosen to do. ’ Or ‘where we’ve chosen to be. ’ Moreover, he does not say how we’ve chosen to be.

How many of us are conscious of the idea that we have chosen to be who we are? There seems to be no choice… We are all Popeyes – “I yam who I yam who I yam. ”

And I would think there is extraordinary freedom in being able to choose. I have chosen my family, my profession, my passions. I am choosing to write this. I chose to read Westlake. So when Westlake writes, “…imprisoned most securely, ” by their choice, I have to think again. He says that I have chosen to be who I am and I may be trapped by that choice.

So I’m left with the question of having access to choice. In what areas of my life do I feel trapped? Have I chosen to be that way? How can I choose another way?

So many Jews remained in Germany who chose to be German-

Michael Lipp, The Contribution Coach guides people To create new, exciting futures - aiming for success, fulfillment and satisfaction. He is also a multi-faceted author. You are invited to explore his blogs, and his website


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