Wir Geben Uns Mehr Mühe©
By Dennis Dossett
Many years ago as a sophomore in college I realized that, to do anything with my psychology degree, I needed to go to graduate school. At that time getting a Master’s degree in most universities required proficiency in at least one foreign language and a Doctorate required at least two languages. I had taken two years of Latin in high school (seemed like a good idea at the time—at least it helped me to understand English grammar a whole lot better!), but I knew that wouldn’t count as a foreign language for grad school. Most of the material I had to read for my psychology classes was originally published in English (no help there) or German; very little was published in other languages—especially the “romance” languages which derived from Latin. I figured that my background in Latin might allow me to teach myself enough French or Spanish to get by if it ever became necessary. (I was even more naïve at that tender age than I am now!). So, I decided to take the first year of German in six weeks of summer school at the university.
Talk about a shock! I had no idea that learning a modern foreign language could be so difficult (guess I’ve always had a short attention span—learning Latin in high school was HELL now that I think about it). I had no choice but to completely submerge myself in the experience for six weeks and hope for the best (at least a passing grade). So, for six weeks I ate, drank, slept, and spent every waking hour trying to immerse myself in German. I must have been desperate for some (any!) relief because I picked up a copy of LIFE Magazine at the university library and started thumbing through it. In those days LIFE was the major picture magazine in the United States and in a much larger format than it exists on the newsstand today. But I found one page—an advertisement—that caught my attention, and I had to have it. I walked downtown (small college town and I would do anything to get out of studying more German) and bought a copy. Then I walked back home to add a new dimension to my studying.
At the time, Avis Rent-a-Car was running a full-page ad in LIFE Magazine. Their corporate motto (at least their advertising copy) was “We Try Harder.” Yes, Hertz was the number one company in the rental car industry, but “We (Avis) Try Harder.” We listen to our customers more, we are more responsive, and we’ll do anything to get your business because “We Try Harder.” And Avis set out to demonstrate that with a full-page ad in the country’s premier picture magazine by showing their motto printed on round lapel pins in 30 different languages. In five columns and six rows of lapel buttons they wrote “We Try Harder.” When I got home I went into my study room, pulled out my English-German dictionary, and started to translate“Wir Geben Uns Mehr Mühe” word-for-word. Then I cut it out of the magazine and taped it to my desk where I could see it every day.
Do you remember a few years ago when the American Dairy Association was blasting their latest marketing jingle (”Got Milk?”) from every billboard and publication they could find? It was a great success because it was simple, “catchy,” and was instantly recognizable. Then someone in the marketing department decided to translate “Got Milk?” into Spanish for the Hispanic segment of their market. Only one problem. That simple, two-word phrase was translated word-for-word, published in all the Hispanic media, and met with everything from shock, to disgust, to laughter—depending upon the reader. In short, the Spanish translation of “Got Milk?” came out as “Are You Lactating?” Whoops! You just cannot translate words from one language to another; you have to translate the sense, the intended meaning, not just the words.
But I didn’t know that at the time I began studying German. I looked up “Wir Geben Uns Mehr Mühe” word-for-word in my dictionary and came up with the literal translation, “We Give Ourselves More Trouble.” I thought that wasn’t too bad; I could see how that meant “We Try Harder” in English. And then …
And then I stopped dead in my tracks. In my mind I could hear someone speaking those German words,“Wir Geben Uns Mehr Mühe,” but I could simultaneously hear myself saying “We give ourselves more trouble” … and it stuck. Hearing it in that tone with that emphasis, the truth of that statement hit me like a ton of bricks (well, maybe more like the stack of German books on my desk falling over on top of me as I was nodding off). We DO give ourselves more trouble, all of the time. I hadn’t yet heard of Maitreya at that point in my life, and I certainly didn’t know how often he said and wrote that “there are no accidents.” But what I heard in my mind was exactly that. Not only are there no accidents but, like it or not, we have created everything in our lives. WE give ourselves more trouble! No one else. I am reminded of a syndicated cartoon character at the time, “Pogo,” who frequently quipped:
• “We have met the enemy, and he is us!”
~ Walt Kelly (1913-1973; American animator & cartoonist best known for the daily newspaper comic strip Pogo, 1948-1975)
As I look back over the years, I honestly think that was the day I began my metaphysical journey. The sudden realization that I, alone, am responsible for my life was indelibly imprinted on my mind, something that I would learn from both Maitreya and Abraham nearly five decades later. I still believe “Wir Geben Uns Mehr Mühe.” I just understand it more deeply now than ever before. Not only do we give ourselves more trouble, but we also give ourselves more opportunities to grow, to change and improve our lives, if we choose to do so. And I still have that little piece of paper, yellow with age and tattered by trying to remove Scotch tape in order to mount it on a new desktop. On a day that I don’t actually look at it, I think about it sometime during the day—and on most days I do both.
Last month I wrote about (“Lessons and Tests”)
which I now understand is exactly the point of “Wir Geben Uns Mehr Mühe.” Its all about soul evolution, the opportunity to grow into a better version of ourselves. And we get to choose what to learn and when to learn it. More importantly, we also get to choose how we are going to learn it—the hard way or an easier way. All too often we choose to stay in the comfort zone, to learn the hard way. And whether we learn at all, that also is our choice. Just be prepared for the consequences of freedom! But it’s all good. Everything in life is for our learning, and everyone is exactly where they need to be right here, right now, for their own soul evolution.
So, if you aren’t pleased with your current situation in life guess what? You get to choose if, when, and how you are going to do something about it. Just remember, “Wir Geben Uns Mehr Mühe!”
By the way, the Universe really does have our backs. The year I started graduate school, the foreign language requirement for the PhD was reduced from two to one. So, I spent a good part of one summer quarter in graduate school reviewing my German grammar and vocabulary, took the exam, … and passed! The next year, the foreign language for a PhD was dropped entirely. So how did the Universe “have my back” on that one? Well, the life lesson of “Wir Geben Uns Mehr Mühe” that I learned years before is one that I have now taught several generations of students. That’s the cake. What about the icing? Well, at the last minute this month I needed a topic to write about, and guess what Spirit handed me? Oh, and I already have a topic for next month that continues the theme of “Lessons and Tests” as well as “Wir Geben Uns Mehr Mühe.” Now that’s what I call icing!
Have a great month!