I’ve been singing Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer my whole life, but it was just a few weeks ago that I realized the real meaning of the song and how connected I am to Rudolph and his red nose. Here are the lyrics and below I’ve written some red nose wisdom about the mysteries of not belonging.
You know Dasher, and Dancer, and
Prancer, and Vixen,
Comet, and Cupid, and
Donder and Blitzen
But do you recall
The most famous reindeer of all
Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer
had a very shiny nose
and if you ever saw it
you would even say it glows.
All of the other reindeer
used to laugh and call him names
They never let poor Rudolph
play in any reindeer games.
Then one foggy Christmas eve
Santa came to say:
“Rudolph with your nose so bright,
won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”
Then all the reindeer loved him
as they shouted out with glee,
Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer,
you’ll go down in history!
A friend of mine recently spoke of “wanting to belong WITHOUT belonging.” I share the feeling and, after the foggy night, so does Rudolph.
I don’t think I have ever really belonged and for years that mean’t I felt there was something very wrong with me. It was my fault I didn’t fit in. So not belonging, meant feeling lonely, sometimes isolated, often marginalized, and always sadly guilty. (In middle school, those torturous days of early adolescence, I was bullied and ridiculed.) I was Rudolph but I didn’t have a red nose…no, no, no….I had a red nose but I didn’t realize it and neither did anyone else.
I can imagine the real story of Rudolph was about all his lonely wanderings seeking out those he hoped would tell him what his red nose meant or how he could get rid of it so he could just be one of many reindeer. One of the people he spoke to was Santa Claus. Santa looked at him and tried very hard not to chuckle when he said “Dear Rudolph, I haven’t the foggiest idea why you have a red nose.” He felt sorry for the little reindeer as he often heard his herd snickering and calling him names. Rudolph hung his head low and walked away wanting to belong and hoping his useless red nose would fall off.
Gradually in my journey toward self-awareness, I saw my red nose and realized it was my red nose that made my life so lonely and confusing, so I did everything I could to hide it. But pretending to be like everyone else made me feel even lonelier. My red nose was me, mine, my special, weird gift. When I pretended I didn’t have it, I still didn’t belong to whatever group I was hoping to belong to, but worse, I didn’t belong to myself.
Rudolph and his nose are suddenly recognized thanks to a very foggy night and Santa remembering Rudolph’s question. The red nose was a bright light for seeing through the fog. Rudolph still didn’t fit in as he still was the only reindeer with a red nose, but he was of service, valued, and appreciated for the very thing that separated him from all the others. His difference and specialness saved Christmas for Santa and all the children of the world. The song of Rudolph and his red nose celebrates the legend but doesn’t tell the whole story.
Rudolph saved Christmas. He was a hero. He knew what his red nose was for. He loved it! But he also realized that he was still different. It wasn’t painful anymore. It was his destiny. And the other reindeer did love him, but they couldn’t imagine what it was like to have a red nose, to be one of a kind.
As for my red nose. It’s more complex, but it is also related to Christmas. My red nose really began to shine in late December, 2004, when I sent out the first Holy Night Message.
Now my red nose gives me cause to celebrate my destiny and to forgive my difference and those who didn’t and don’t understand, appreciate or need my specialness. I have also arrived at the wisdom that many of us have a red nose or a bouquet of them and are waiting for the foggy night and Santa Claus.
Yes, all of us need to be valued and appreciated by ourselves, our peers and the world for how we serve because we don’t belong. I have learned that the pain and suffering of not belonging, of being different, of feelings of isolation can awaken wisdom and lead to important deeds that would not have occurred if we hadn’t been born with a red nose destiny.
Please take a Rudolph moment and imagine your self…look for your red nose(s). What foggy night will need your red nose to create a beacon of light for others? Who is your Santa Claus?
You are my Santa Claus. In your foggy inner nights, you remember me and something I wrote in my blogs or learned about yourself in one of my Imagine Self courses. Just your click on anything I make available tells me I may still be different but I am appreciated and useful.
Some of you do one-on-one sacred conversations with me. You let me see your red nose, you tell me about all the loneliness and difficulties. My red nose allows me to light the way for you to imagine yourself through all the obscuring fogs of complexity, doubt and resistance. My red nose shines on your red nose. .
Over the Holy Nights, my red nose will light the way through the dark and dangerous fogs of acts of unkindness to the warm and bright acts of kindness that we must see for a future to allow each of us to flourish.
If 2016 is your year to discover how to see your red nose shine, I would love to support you in your process. Let’s have a “red nose” 20 minute conversation to see if we hear sleigh bells together. Click here to schedule your conversation.
Please leave comments about your red nose feelings and experiences. I know you have them. Sharing them is an experience of belonging without belonging. Thanks so much.