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   1 Cheshvan 5775 / Saturday, October 25, 2014 | Torah Reading Noach       
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HomeSpirituality and FaithPersonal GrowthTrapped in a Bottle
Trapped in a Bottle
By: Rabbi Lazer Brody

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A person asks himself: "Why don't I make it to the peak? Why don't I even make upward progress?"
So many people seem to be standing still or treading water at best. For them, simply staying afloat is an accomplishment.
Who wants a life of simply staying afloat? I don't know many people like that. Everyone wants to reach the top, but so few do. Why?
Folks are trapped in a bottle. They exert themselves, they hustle and they might even make a lot of noise in the process, but they don't go anywhere. They're just running around inside the bottle.
When you were in your formative years, all types of people put labels on you. Better yet, they put labels on a bottle and stuck you inside. As a young person, you subconsciously thought that your parents, teachers and peers knew what they were talking about. So, when you were trapped inside a bottle labelled "dumb", "cowardly", "lazy", "ugly", "uncoordinated" or "failure", then you thought that you were dumb, cowardly, lazy, uncoordinated or failure.
Because you were trapped in a bottle, you never tried out for the baseball team. Why? When you were six, your father threw you a fast ball that you had no chance of hitting. When you swung the bat and missed the ball, he called you "uncoordinated". You wanted to learn karate but you never did, because when you were nine, you backed down from fighting an eleven-year old who was much bigger than you and your dad called you a "coward".
Because you were trapped in a bottle, you never really succeeded in school. Whenever you didn't feel like doing the dishes or washing the floor, your mother called you "lazy". When you worked your hardest trying to path a math test that few in your class did well on, and you came home with a 70, she called you "dumb".
And when the class queen or the class king snubbed you, you really felt worthless.
That's a thing of the past. We will now rid our brains of all those false labels that confine us and restrict us, holding us back from succeeding.
Obviously, one can't grow or climb a mountain if he or she is trapped in a bottle. Even worse, the longer a person is trapped in a bottle, the more he assumes the shape of the bottle, just as a plant's roots assume the shape of the pot that it grows in. But in a bottle, there's no room to grow.
We therefore must break out of the bottle in order to start growing.
Suppose someone called you a coward. I'll prove to you that you're not a coward. Think of something you believe in with all your heart. This might be some ideal that makes your life worth living. You'd go to great lengths to defend that ideal. That's courage. It's right there within you, but you can't feel it inside the bottle.
Suppose someone says that you're ugly. They're blind. The Creator creates each creation with its own intrinsic beauty. But you won't be able to see your own beauty if you're trapped in a bottle. Bottles distort images.
Conforming to peers is the worst type of bottle. Your peers won't let you grow. They certainly don't want you to reach the peak, either.
Some labels seem to be true but they actually distort the truth. If you're an adult male and you're only 5'3", don't be upset if people call you "shorty". Just smile and tell yourself that you're life's mission is not to play basketball in the NBA. Yet at 5'3", you can still accomplish almost anything else in life. Just ask Napoleon Bonaparte. So the core truth is that The Creator designs each of us in a way that we can best perform our task on earth. A tractor isn't jealous of a Ferrari's leather upholstery and a Ferrari certainly isn't jealous of the tractor's big tires. Why? Each has its own task to perform. Sure, the Ferrari is prettier than the tractor, but it can't plow a field.
Breaking out of the bottle means that we do some good, cogent self-assessment, evaluating our strengths and weaknesses. The more we get to know ourselves, the less we're prone to be trapped in a bottle. Once we're out of the bottle, it's not so easy for people to throw stones at us, for we not only get to know ourselves, we get to like ourselves. Now, we can really start climbing.
* * *
We invite you to visit Rabbi Lazer Brody’s award-winning daily web journal Lazer Beams.



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