Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Growing Up Some More

It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are.

e e cummings
Understanding ourselves, perhaps the most important activity of our lives, is no easy matter, as has been said many times, and also by me ad nauseam. Even facing the necessary steps toward self knowledge is usually a daunting task. Though we may move gracefully from who we thought we were to what we have become to what we wish we were, there are still boulders and depressions along the way. It takes a lot of courage to face those changes, to step over or around the boulders and to climb up out of the depressions. With every effort we try to make those changes positive ones for ourselves. Without positive changes we are just sushi, raw flesh for the birds.

But there is something else in the process that may take even more courage and that is the relinquishment of who we used to be or thought we were. In the trunk we pull along with us through life is a wardrobe of influences from other people and life experiences. We can't ignore that those influences are there but we can begin to chose which ones are positive and discard the rest. It's hard to tell the difference.

I am grateful for those in my life who have left a thumbprint on my character. Some of them are no longer my friends, for one reason or another, but whatever mark they made on my life is always with me, and many of those marks were made on a man who thought he knew himself, a man who didn't know how much growing up was in store for him. Some of those imprints caused resentment, for which I need to forgive myself, and some caused joy and a feeling of approval, for which I'm grateful. To live a true life is the best response.

I have to know that I have left my mark on others also. Without realizing it I have shaped other people's character and reaction to themselves by how I have treated them and even how and what I have been to them in the past. I also have to understand and be compassionate with other people because events I know nothing about have shaped their lives and their personalities. Everyone's life is worth a book.

Some people, most of us, face a later life without having really lived it, because we turned it over to the world's expectations of us or to satisfy someone else's desires. To mold ourselves to fit another's character is to be a shoe that forms itself to fit a foot. That is not a bad thing in itself provided one does not sacrifice one's own person in the process.

After we broke up an ex girl friend of mine got married. The man she married refused to acknowledge anything about her past or even that she had one, even to the point of eliminating every scrap of evidence that I had ever known her. After a while she would call me and chat, but she had to do it on the sly because he would have raged. What a terrible thing! Our relationship had been very close, so naturally we had shaped each other in many ways. The woman he married did not come fresh from the factory. She has a right to her past and to choose what to keep and what to discard. She also has the right to become more of the person she really is. And she has the courage to do it if she is allowed to.

This happened many years ago and I have no feelings about it except well wishing. I have moved on.

It takes courage to face ourselves and acknowledge who we are, with all the failures, faults and wrinkles. But it also takes courage to let go of who we used to be.

Memories are antiques. Save the good ones. Put them on a shelf, Dust them off every now and then. And get on with life.

Dana Bate
The Vagabond
(This is not a contest.)

Who are the 2 (two) most important people alive today? Why?

Only 7 responses so far.

Thank you.


Valerie said...

We are all threads woven together in a beautiful quilt. I am very glad I met you. Your daily words have affected my thinking and my life positively, Dana =) xox

pacifica62 said...

There are some people, who, in the process of becoming who they are or will be, will take the path of least resistance. I consider myself to be one of those people who avoided the expectations of others and even of myself in many ways, and just became. Meandering through the boulders and depressions and just becoming whatever I wanted to be at the time. Not really challenging myself too strenuously. I am sure my life could have been very different if I had put some effort into it, but I don't have many real regrets. I became who I am and hopefully somewhere along the way I have touched people's lives in a good and positive way. Life moves on.

Big Mark 243 said...

Another interesting entry, D.B.

Just Bill said...

Dana, to partially quote you "many of those marks were made on a man who thought he knew himself.."
You have left marks on me and I think many others with your writings.
Thank you for your thought provoking thoughts and words. Bill

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Our past shapes us, for better or worse. That simply takes acceptance.