Most people have seen in some form the classic, and sometimes comedic imaginary of a person with an angel on one shoulder and and a devil on another. The devil advises them to go with their worst impulses in a challenging situation and the angel encourages their better selves.
There is also the popular book by Mitch Albom, “The Five People you Meet in Heaven” which (spoiler alert) expounds upon the fictional five people that a man most impacted in his life, knowingly or not.
I have 3 angels on my shoulders. I haven’t counted the devils yet, but they’re there as well. The three angels are the three people in my life that I most want to talk to about every event, large and small. I anticipate their reactions to my behavior, and in my more rational moments chose my course. In my irrational moments, I ask for advise on how to rectify my situation, and sometimes even listen to the response. These are people I respect and love. More importantly than that though, they are people who I know love me unconditionally, and so they have the biggest impact in my life. I respect and like Martha Nussbaum, Pope Francis, Natalie Portman, and Anna Nalick, but they’re unlikley to impact my life in a profound way because they simply aren’t accessible to me. The people I talk to…the people I work out problems, with, those are the ones who shape me as a person.
I remember, a fable about an eagle raised with chickens who grew up to peck the ground instead of soaring. How important the people that we surround ourselves! How much can we improve our lives and minds by a diet of society? More people who elevate and challenge and less who we feel yucky with…Trust your own intuition, you will know how to edit your social circle.
The first angel on my shoulder is of course, my wonderful, imperfect, generous, mother. No day is complete without talking to her about it’s events. No day is complete without her praise and acceptance. I understand what it is to love unconditionally because of her.
The second angel on my shoulder is my tiny little best friend, E. In college, we were so close that boys were forced to take us both out in order to date us. She reminds me of the value of self control, and self improvement. She is always powerfully authentic, but reminds me to act normal when I sometimes do not feel normal.
The angel that jumps up and down on my head, because both shoulders are already occupied is my husband. I picture this one like a miniature version of my husband wearing a leprochaun outfit. This is probably odd. This little angel always wants me to be frugal and efficient. Somehow, this little angel makes me laugh most of all, just like my husband does. Every movie and date and party, my husband makes me laugh. He likes my crazy, loud laugh, and knows how to handle my ugly cry. He manages it all, and makes me feel safe and grounded. This little angel and I sometimes disagree…about how much to spend at target or whether I should stay up to watch another movie. He is my favorite little angel.
Without any of these, I’d be lost. I’d be an incomplete person adrift in the world.
Don’t mistake me. I have education, religion, family and friends. I need these other versions of reality to keep me grounded….to know how to proceed in my daily life. Nothing is real until I’ve talked to them, or thought about their reactions. Who are your angels? Who are your devils? What makes the day real and and complete for you?