Whiffling Through the Tulgey Wood, or How to Find Your Much
By Yvonne Sinclair M.A.
Alice seemed confused, as was I, when the Hatter told her she was "much muchier before." When he pointed to her indicating the "muchness" came from inside, I began to wonder. What is this "muchness?" Do I have "muchness" or is my "muchness" missing, too? Was I ever "muchier?" "Muchness" seemed to be a good thing to possess. I wanted this "muchness," whatever it was.
I considered that "muchness" could be that inner strength of self. It could also be strength that comes from inside. Was it the power to stand up for ones self? Was "muchness" even more than that? The dictionary defines "muchness" as, "Greatness of quantity, degree, or extent." Hmm, quantity of what, degree of where, how much extent? No matter how long I contemplated the possibilities, I was still in the dark. I began to explore and contemplate "muchness" even further.
A source of information suggests that the phrase "muchness" was coined by Shakespeare. According to the website source phrases.org.uk/meanings, "Origin; Shakespeare coined the words countless, silliness, tardiness, and many others of the same form.’muchness' sounds typical of the Bard's work, and it seems a fair bet that it was one of his inventions. In fact, the word was in use by the 14th century, predating Shakespeare by more than a century. Also, the Shakespearian-sounding phrase 'much of a muchness' first appeared considerably later, in the play The Provok'd Husband, 1728, which was a collaboration between John Vanbrugh and Colley Cibber: Man: I hope, you and your good Woman agree still. J. Moody: Ay! ay! much of a muchness. Muchness means physical magnitude or largeness and is derived from the earlier word mickleness.” “Much of a muchness" has remained as part of the language since Vanbrugh's day, but has never been commonplace. It is rather an odd phrase on the face of it as, in literal terms, it just means "of a similar quality of being much." Lewis Carroll picked up on that oddness in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, when he had the Dormouse ask Alice, "That begins with an M, such as, muchness, you know you say things are 'much of a muchness' did you ever see, a drawing of a muchness?"
Even after extensive historical analysis, we are still not really sure where the phrase "muchness" originated. Is "muchness" that ability to be joyful at our fingertips? In The Invitation, Oriah Mountain Dreamer put it this way: "I want to know if you can be with Joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human."
If that ability to experience joy is "muchness," then I wanted some. I wanted to know how to get to the place where I would dance with wildness and let ecstasy fill me to my fingertips. After all, that sounds wonderful and very "muchy." However, I found it was not an easy task to feel that good. If the Law of Attraction is correct, and I felt that good, I would attract nothing but wonderful into my life.
"Muchness" continuously sounds increasingly desirable. Let's get some "muchness." I believe we start with accepting ourselves, all of our self, as wonderful. Now, hang in here with me. I know this sounds impossible to achieve, but that is where we start. We must put aside all the old messages and old "tapes" in our head. We must silence the old voices telling us we are dumb, we will never amount to anything, we are ugly, or whatever negative message we were given. In our heart, we know these messages are not true.
Negative messages can form what we call a core belief. A core belief is something we believe is true because certain messages were instilled in us as children. If you have a negative core belief, then you may be doing what the Native Americans call the "dark dance." You may be going through life validating an untrue core belief. For instance, if you were told you were dumb, you may notice every dumb thing you do and discount all the smart actions you take. If you were told you would never amount to anything, and you would never be successful, then you may sabotage any "success" you achieve. If you are about to graduate from college, you might just drop out because that inner voice says you can't be successful. If you own a business and it becomes successful, you may sabotage that success because of your core belief that you will never amount to anything.
Stopping the "dark dance" is not easy. It takes focused attention to the positive aspects and day by day those old, untrue, and negative messages will eventually erode away. Overtly and consciously noticing the smart things or all the little successes through the day will eventually change your core belief to a true one.
When we begin to accept ourselves as wonderful beings, then we can go to the inner self and plant our "muchness." Having "muchness" means possessing the ability to find the place in your existence where you are calm and centered. It is a place of joy and strength within your self. Maybe it is stopping the frantic activity and allowing the "now" to embrace you. Sometimes we occupy ourselves in order to avoid doing what we really need to do for ourselves. Maybe we were told taking care of our self is "selfish." I am suggesting that you may be the only person who is fully equipped to take care of your inner self. Perhaps you should be "selfish" and take care of you. Now if you have a cookie, and the person next to you is drooling over your cookie, not sharing would be selfish. Taking care of yourself is important for anyone to thrive. So be selfish in a way that will help you actualize a healthy, happy, and fulfilled life. When you feel good, you can then be there for others. Sometimes when we act "unselfish" all the time and take care of others instead of ourselves, we end up empty and therefore unavailable to care for anyone.
I found some ideas for reclaiming your "muchness" on the website www.positivelypresent.com:
"6 Questions To Help You Reclaim Your "Muchness:"
1. What did I like to do when I was younger?
When you think about what you liked to do as a kid, you may be surprised that you still like to do those same things. Often times the things we like as kids are the things we like our whole lives (I certainly know that's true for me when it comes to reading and writing!). Give some thought to this, and you'll ultimately unveil the essence of who you are. What you liked to do then says a lot about the kind of person you were.
2. Why did I stop doing or continue to do those things?
Some people continue to do the things they loved when they were kids. Some people even make careers out of those things (as I someday hope to do). But often times, people stop doing the things they loved to do when they were kids. Think about what you did as a kid and whether or not you still do it and why.
3. Who did I think I would be when I grew up?
When you think about whom you thought you would be, you'll learn about the things that were important to you as a kid. Of course, in some cases, you can't incorporate these things into your adult life all that easily. But, for example, if you wanted to be a professional basketball player, think about why you wanted to be that person. What did you think that grown-up would have?
4. How am I like that fictional version of myself?
When you think back on that childhood ideal of who you were going to be, also take some time to consider how you might actually be like that person. You might not be exactly what you thought you would be, but you may be closer than you think. For example, I always thought I'd be a famous journalist of some sort (which I'm clearly not), but I do spend most of my time writing, so I'm really not that far off.
5. What attitudes and beliefs did I hold as a kid?
This is the most important question. Although it's essential to examine what you liked to do and who you thought you would be, the most important thing to consider is what your beliefs were as a child. What ideals were important to you? In Alice, the Mad Hatter thinks Alice has lost some of her bravery and gumption because she grew older. Consider how you may have acted as a child and then ponder.
6. How have my attitudes and beliefs changed?
As we grow and learn, it's no surprise that some of our values will change. We understand that the world is a complex place, and everything cannot possibly fall neatly into a "good" or "bad" category. Think about how your beliefs may have changed since you were a kid. What attitudes did you have then that you may not have now? I know personally that I believed a lot more in my adult-self back then than I do now, and that's something I certainly want to get back to."
It seems "muchness" would also be having the strength to say "no" when necessary. We must also recognize that the ability to say "yes" to anything good for us would be part of our "muchness." It is important to keep strong personal boundaries that allow for healthy relationships. "Muchness" is the ability to voice our opinions in an assertive way. "Muchness" would mean asking for our needs and wishes. "Muchness" includes the ability to stand up to anyone harming another.
So far, "muchness" appears to be a tall order. Getting to the complete "muchness" place is not an immediate happening. I decided to plant some "muchness seeds" inside and allow them to grow. First, I had to focus on taking care of myself. Hmmm, how to do that? I began by eating right for me, exercising to take care of my body, and just living in a healthy manner. That was a good start. To help the seeds grow, I added a massage now and then, a wonderful long bubble bath with candles and music, lying on the grass while watching the clouds roll by, and maybe just spending time petting the cat. Everyone may not like this kind of "muchness" nurturing. You may need something entirely different to allow your "muchness seeds" to develop. Honor yourself and your personal needs. Allow your "muchness" to get huge and wonderful.
Now we must tackle the strength thing. Saying "no" is not so hard, right? Well, maybe a little hard sometimes. There is always the person who likes to add a little guilt trip to get you to say "yes" when he or she wants something. Understanding what is your "stuff" and what is not your "stuff" is the key. Think of everyone having their own basket of "stuff." If your friend calls and wants you to sit with his or her dog while he or she is on a cruise, and you had plans to go away for a day also, they may throw his or her "stuff" in your basket. They may say, "But you can give up your day just now so I can go on the cruise. The cruise is much more important that your one day." If you allow them put stuff in your basket, you will say things like, "But I, oh well, I would have liked..." etc. defending and explaining. To keep others' stuff out of your basket, you can practice what is called reflective listening. It goes like this: "I know that is what you think, I know that is how you feel, or I know that is what you want." Shift the "stuff" right back into their basket. This would mean you have healthy boundaries. You actually say "no" and take care of yourself by keeping your special day. This takes practice. I see the "muchness seeds" beginning to grow already.
I began walking around the house looking in all the mirrors and practicing "no." "No," "No," "Nope," "Not!" It finally started to feel natural. When the UPS man appeared at the door, and I answered it with a "no," I realized I should monitor my no's. He seemed to leave in a bit of a hurry. Sorry UPS man, I was just growing my "muchness."
Speaking of mirrors, has anyone ever given you instructions to look into a mirror and tell yourself, "I love you!" Oh my, isn't that hard?! I needed to grow a lot more "muchness" to comfortably pull that one off. So, I nurtured my muchness with tai chi, granting myself introvert-alone time, getting together with friends I had not seen in a while, smiling at everyone I met, and sending a happy email to all my email addresses. That was a great addition to my "muchness." And again, your "muchness" growing may look extremely different than mine. You are your own individual with your own special needs and abilities. Making a list of activities and things that feel good to you will give you an idea of how to grow your "muchness" in the most effective way.
I am not at the "dancing until joy fills my fingertips" place yet, but I am working towards that goal. I am beginning to whiffle through my tulgey wood just a little easier. Sometimes my tulgey wood gets a little tangled, and the whiffling is harder, but I keep trudging through on my path.
If your tulgey wood is a day of fun and enjoyment, whiffling will be easy. If your tulgey wood is taking a dreaded exam or confronting someone, your whiffling will probably be harder, but you can do it.
I have to go now. My "muchness" needs some attention. Maybe yours does, too...
Have a "frabjous" day and happy whiffling.
©Copyright 2010 by Yvonne Sinclair M.A., MFCC. All Rights Reserved. All material is owned and protected. Reproduction without the express written consent of the author is forbidden.