Spoiler alert: If you are still planning to watch the series finale of the television show Chuck, read no further.
Chuck was the NBC action, comedy, romance series that ended this past January. Chuck Bartowski and Sarah Walker work together as spies. After several seasons of on and off again romance, in the next-to-last season destiny prevails: committed to each other, they marry. In the last season, they are about to retire from the spy business when an accident involving spy technology results in loss of memory for Sarah.
Without her memories, Sarah is convinced by a bad guy that her mission is to kill Chuck. Before she is able to carry out her mission, she realizes that she has been tricked. She doesn’t kill Chuck, but she has no memory of him either. Friends and family try to intervene. Sarah repeatedly tells them that the part of her life with Chuck is gone and, worse, she doesn’t seem to want to remember. Yet, something is clearly tugging at Sarah.
Chuck is heartbroken. But true to his character in the series, he remains patient, kind, and loyal to Sarah. He continues to ask Sarah to listen to “our story” in the hopes she will regain memories of their life together. Sarah continues to resist. Then, in that last scene of the show, she turns to him and says, “Tell me our story, Chuck.”
As tears stream down her face, Sarah listens to Chuck. Joy and laughter bubble up. Now Sarah wants to remember. Although the ending is ambiguous, Sarah has clearly made the choice to love. Because she has made that choice, we can imagine that memories of life with Chuck will return.
The ending touched something universal. Sarah is in exile, separated from love. Yet the memory of that love cannot be completely extinguished.
We are in exile, our memories of the interconnected Whole of which we all are a part is fuzzy. Yet, our memories cannot be completely extinguished. Here is how A Course in Miracles gently tells our story of our own fuzzy remembering.
Listen—perhaps you catch a hint of an ancient state not quite forgotten; dim, perhaps, and yet not all together unfamiliar, like a song whose name is long forgotten, and the circumstances in which you heard completely unremembered. Not the whole song has stayed with you, but just a little whisk of melody attached not to a person or a place or anything in particular. But you’ll remember, from just this little part, how lovely was the song, how wonderful the setting where you heard it, and how you loved those who were there and listened with you.
The notes are nothing. Yet you have kept them with you, not for themselves, but as a soft reminder of what would make you weep if you remembered how dear it was to you. You could remember, yet you are afraid, believing you would lose the world you learned since then. And yet you know that nothing in the world you learned is half so dear as this. Listen, and see if you remember an ancient song you knew so long ago and held more dear than any melody you taught yourself to cherish since.
Like all of us, Sarah has a lot of worldly learning under her belt. She is one of the world’s top spies. We too may be successful in our own worldly endeavors. Having our own unique outer purpose for our life is important; but we all share an inner-purpose as well, and that is to remember Wholeness.
What is this Wholeness? My book, The Inner-Work of Leadership, offers pointers:
The connectedness that I speak of is not superficial; it pervades the very fabric of existence. Early on in Coming to Life, Polly Berends informs us that her book “is predicated on the idea that there is a universal underlying force that can prevail as harmony, love, peace, joy, freedom, and fulfillment—insofar as we are aligned with it.” Further, Berends tells us that in her book she will use the term Fundamental Mind, instead of God, “to make clear that we are not talking about some fickle mind in-space but rather a reality underlying everything.” Polly Berends’s teacher, the late psychiatrist Thomas Hora used the metaphor of an “Ocean of Love-Intelligence.” His metaphor helps to point us to the infinite underlying reality from which flow illuminating, responsive, and intelligent ideas that we call wisdom.
My own preference is to use the word Wholeness to evoke a sense of this underlying reality. I capitalize Wholeness because Wholeness is a reality beyond that which our intellect can fully grasp. As human beings, our comprehension is limited because our consciousness is experienced through a separate body; the physical reality we experience through our senses seems paramount. Yet, in truth, there is an integrated Whole—a fundamental unity of life—of which each of us is a part. This truth seems like, well, “Kumbaya”—a nice sentiment, but an idea of little practical value. Little value to our ego, yes; but indispensable to our True Self. The inspired ideas that we may choose to receive from Wholeness are an unfailing antidote to our ego’s distortions.
Every day we encounter people who have lost their memory of Wholeness. They are difficult to be with. Every day we lose our memory of Wholeness, and we are difficult to be with.
Every day we encounter others, like Chuck, who are loyal and remember for us. Those who remember may be close to us or they may be strangers who share a kind word or a friendly smile.
In truth, even the smallest choices we make—to smile, to listen, to help things go right—are not for us alone. Our responsibility toward ourselves and others is enormous. The memory of Wholeness may be dim, but it is never completely extinguished. Each of us helps to tell the collective story of humanity through the gentleness in our mind and the actions that flow from that gentleness.