Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Be who you are meant to be

Spending time in Greece, meeting many many new people, I had the unique opportunity of being amongst people who knew absolutely nothing about me or my family or where I have come from.

I have always, wherever I have been, come across someone who knew my parents, or knew someone who knew my parents, or knew one of my siblings, or knew someone who knew one of my siblings, or was a friend of a friend, or a relative of a friend, or a friend of a relative. The world is much smaller than we like to think it is.

Therefore, whenever I have been anywhere new and come across a new face, there has usually ended up being a small layer of vague familiarity somehow joining us together, and a gossamer layer of assumption already in place.

In Greece though, there was no thin bond from which to grow a friendship. All I had was myself: who I am. And that became a very interesting thing - because who are you? who am I? when the person across from you knows nothing, and you can choose what you want to reveal.

There is none of this:

"If you know Marcie, you probably know Bob!"


"Since you are a friend of Claire, you probably believe that...."


"I can tell you this, and I know you will agree with me, because if you hang out with Jim...."

Essentially, then, pulled out of any place of familiarity, you become who you say you are - who you want to be - and not who you are assumed to be.

This is, perhaps, why many people like traveling so much: you are torn away from the normal swing of things; quite suddenly the weight of assumption and obligation is pulled away, and only you are left.

This presents one with a beautiful opportunity. Stripped down, away from what others think you are, want you to be, need you to be, or think you believe, you can form yourself. Independent of outside influences - as much as that can ever happen - you can ask yourself who you are, what you believe, and what you want.

Travel then, or anything at all that takes you wildly away from your comfort zone, from what you are used to, is one of those achingly necessary events on the path of growing up.

At some point in every person's life, there has to be a separation, a move away from the security and knowingness of one's childhood. You must thrust yourself into the limitless abyss where you ask yourself if you believe what you have been taught, if you are what you are assumed to be, and if you want what it is hoped you will pursue.

If that separation doesn't occur, if that foray into self knowing doesn't happen, you live as a puppet - perhaps endlessly reacting to events in your past, never realizing how much they affect your present actions; following ideas that you were presented with but never chose, leaving you deprived of any ownership over them and therefore any real joy in believing them. You are but half a person if you don't know why you do the things you do, or why you believe what you believe.

I always vaguely wondered why an unexamined life is not worth living.

Wouldn't it be easier to just bumble along, unaware of and not caring about the intricacies of your own life and the lives around you?

Now, I don't wonder. The unexamined life is not worth living, because it prevents you from soaring to the heights of your own potential. It prevents you from stopping the cycle of habitual action that is purely a reaction to something - anything - but which is vast waste of your energies. It muffles the burning light in each of us which, if we tended to it, would grow into a great flame taking us down the path on which we will be most happy.

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