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To Be or not to Be

Debra Redalia


This post explores the verb BE, which appears in many forms in the English language: am, are, is, was, were, being, been, is the complete conjugation. In this post I am going to be grammatically incorrect and use BE in every instance without proper conjugation, just to make the point it is BE without any ambiguity.


To be, or not to be, that is the question...

—William Shakespeare


When Prince Hamlet asked this question in the famous soliloquy, he was contemplating whether he should continue to live or take his own life.

That is NOT the subject of this post.

Here I am asking what it means to BE or not BE while we live our daily lives. This question came up for me while I was writing Thoughts on Being an American Citizen.

What does it mean to BE?

I thought I knew the definition of the word BE. I had looked it up in the dictionary years ago.

To BE means “to exist.” In the post, I was saying I want to BE a citizen. That doesn’t mean that I just say, “I BE a citizen” and I BE a citizen. No. I realized that to BE something is to be able to DO the thing one says one is BEing.

From age 6 through about 26, I played the piano. I could say “I BE a pianist.” That meant I had learned the knowledge about music and about the piano instrument and I had the ability to play it to make music. I BE a pianist, I do the playing of the instrument, and I produce music as a result.

But I couldn’t say that about BEing a citizen. I don’t have the knowledge or skill to BE a citizen. I can’t do the activities of a citizen and so I don’t produce a result. But everyone thinks I BE a citizen because my body was born here.

I can say I BE a cook because I have knowledge and skill about food and its preparation. I can cook food and end up with something good to eat.

I came to the conclusion one can only BE something when you have the ability to DO it.

With the groan that comes when you finally acknowledge something to be true, I opened my journal and started writing a list of everything I thought I BE. And then I wrote “yes” or “no” after each to indicate if I really was BEing it. I realized I didn’t know how to DO many of the things I think I BE.

Finally, I got that I need to list out all the things I BE and see what I really need to BE able to do in order to BE them and get to work on learning whatever I need to learn.

I know that sounds daunting, but it’s about bringing awareness to having self-determination over my life and more control and skill.


For the past four years and especially now in 2020, we’ve been having a dramatic example of what happens when someone holds a post they don’t know how to BE.

The man currently known as President of the United States is unfortunately entirely unqualified to be President. Prior to being elected in 2016, he had no political experience, he presented himself as a successful businessman. We know now that perhaps he was not even that, but when he took office he knew nothing about the political structure that one learns moving up the ranks to higher and higher offices.

If I had understood this concept four years ago, I could have said, “Wait, he doesn’t know how to BE a President, he is a businessman.” And I could have foreseen that he would not BE a President, he would BE a businessman in the White House. And he hasn’t been a President. He’s been a businessman because that’s what he knows how to BE. He can’t uphold the Constitution and the founding principles of this country because he doesn’t know how to BE them.

We are all living in a mess today here in the USA because enough of our citizens chose a President who didn’t know how to BE a President.

We need to vote for leaders who know how to BE Americans first and then know how to BE real politicians and know how to BE leaders. They need to understand the values of this country and help the citizens achieve those values, not stand in the way of those values being expressed by citizens. [And now that I am reading Cicero about what a statesman should BE, I'm seeing how this lack of knowing how to BE a leader is not limited to this President.]

I have a young woman who has been my Production Assistant for the past five years. She had just become a single mother when I hired her, so I have been helping her raise her son by providing this job to her. She had to learn to BE a production assistant, particularly MY production assistant. And I had to learn how to BE her boss. I had to figure out what help I needed and teach her to use the programs and set a schedule and assign the work. And she needed to do it, do it accurately, and do it on time. I learned how to BE the boss and she learned how to BE the production assistant and now we have a smooth flow of work and communication and give each other mutual support. We can do this together because we each know how to BE our respective jobs.

Likewise, with Larry, we have a smooth and happy life because he knows how to BE a version of a husband that I agree with and like and I know how to BE a version of a wife that he agrees with and likes. We know how to BE this for each other. So all goes well and we continue to be happy year after year. We learned many years ago there is love and there is relationship. If a man doesn't know how to BE a husband and a woman doesn't know how to BE a wife, it's difficult to stay together.



In our modern culture, we are not taught the basics of life: how to BE a spiritual being, how to BE a person, how to BE a citizen, how to BE a good shopper, how to BE a money manager, how to BE a friend, how to BE a partner or a mother or a father or a husband or a wife. Or how to BE a child. Or how to BE our a Homo sapiens and live as a species on Earth. We are taught a skill that we can market to make money, but we are not taught how to live our everyday lives.

This is why we are destroying the planet and why we have wars…we just have not been taught how to BE any other way.

We don’t learn this in school, our parents didn’t know these things, the media has their own agenda.

Having had this realization now I am even more determined to sort out these basics of life and write about how to BE them in a way that supports all Life because we have to know how to BE them and DO them if we are to have long-term survival as a species.

And I also now know that I can learn how to successfully BE anything I want to BE.

Welcome to Lifely!

Quite simply, this blog is about orienting ourselves and our lives to Life, instead of orienting ourselves and our lives to industrial consumerism. Here we are sharing our own journey. You come too. Read more...

Debra & Larry Redalia
lifepartners + soulmates

For more than 30 years we have been delving into the nature and activities of life together. Indeed, this has been and continues to be the very reason we are together. With delight, we research, explore, observe, and even wake each other up in the middle of the night to discuss how life functions and how we can function as life—even while living in the modern world. We each are different from the norm, but we are different in the same way, so we have been able to think outside of the ordinary together and find the extraordinary workings of life.

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