Rudolf the Red nosed reindeer was by far my favourite Christmas movie growing up. Part of what was so special was that you had to catch it when it was on, couldn’t just watch it over and over on DVD. Now I have a four year old and with little pressing from me, it’s become his favourite too. And although I have now watched that blasted thing in part or entirely ten thousand times this December, it still hasn’t lost its charm.
So here’s this little deer with his glowing red nose who’s ostracized by everyone, except for Clarissa, the cute little girl deer, who was probably an Enneagram type 2, 7 or 9. (As a two, the Helper, able to tune into Rudolf’s need for acceptance and give him that, in part no doubt for the reciprocal acceptance and subsequent meeting of her own needs. As a 7, the Enthusiast, emphasizing the positive, with the gift of being able to turn a thorny situation less thorny, to see the potential in what others cannot, possibly with a 6 wing- vying for the underdog. Or as a 9, the Peacemaker, wanting to bring equilibrium and peace back to the disruption that occurred at flying school- though likely with an 8 wing since she was willing to chase Rudolf down and challenge him on why he didn’t walk her home as he had promised.)
Of course we all know how the story ends, once those judgemental little pricks figure out that Rudolf’s nose can serve the whole, they shout out with glee. So it is, that the theme of this film is about celebrating our differences, or at the very least being accepting of them. It sure is easy to be proud of or celebrate the parts of ourselves that our surrounding culture holds dear or acceptable, but what are we to do with our shiny red noses? We can’t all be Enneagram type threes.
What’s quite unfortunate is that for many of us, the very parts of ourselves that are unique, that could turn out to be gifts, are often judged, ridiculed or begged to conform at an early age, hardening aspects of our identity that prevent us from doing our own unique work in this world. I have battled with my own fiery personality my whole life. I talk too much. I’m insatiable. I’m too intense. I’m inappropriate. It’s interesting talking to my mother about this who asserts that I wasn’t as difficult as I shamefully recall (as I still work with as my limiting identity structures).
But I do remember the exasperation and shock of others, particularly through my adolescence. I talked about things you’re just not supposed to talk about. I recall a friend once saying ‘wow, you totally say shit in front of parents that you’re not supposed to say in front of parents.’ Really? According to who? While I certainly identified as a bit of a pain in the ass for others, overwhelming them or frustrating them, my family, for the most part, was supportive. I recall sitting after school with my father who had been called in by my teacher and they were discussing my loud, irreverent, ‘disrespectful’ behaviour. “I know she can be difficult,” says dad, “but I’m just not going to squelch her Self-Expression, you’re going to have to find your own way of dealing with it.” Now, I’m not suggesting that this free-for-all was the best method, certainly I could have used some lessons in refinement, but this unconditional support has allowed me to turn this thorny part of myself, this red shiny nose, into quite a productive tool.
I have the fire to get done just about anything that needs doing. My willingness to say shit that shouldn’t be said gets things moving. (As a fellow Enneagram type 7 recently said, when discussing our propensity towards being ‘publicly inappropriate’ “fuck ‘em. I’d rather be risky than bland.”) My insatiability compels me to demand greater depth, understanding and connection. These qualities can help make me a good leader and a good coach. People are safe with me, can say anything, we can go anywhere and we’ll keep digging and building to get the best of them- shining up their red, glowing nose.
This post by Br. Andrew strikes me as a good example of such things. Touching. The guy is just innately contrary. Shiny red nose. The last line of the posted poem is “It is not the only or the easiest way to come to truth. It is one way.”
Living as our most honest and authentic selves is probably the most frightening way to go. Bringing our weirdness or unacceptable-ness, our quirks or idiosyncrasies forward can seem like the opposite of what our world wants, but in the end, like Rudolf, it’s certainly what this world needs.