The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to yourself.
Michel de Montaigne
Imagine if you woke up one morning and found a bucket of worms and two fishing poles in your kitchen that weren't there when you went to bed, and no one in your home fishes. Or imagine that some friend has convinced you that you really must go out and take a course in disco dancing even though you've never had an interest in it. Or what if you suddenly decided to have a career as a scuba diver even though you've never done it. Crazy, you say? Yes, but things just as crazy happen to us all the time.
One day I went into a shoe store in Manhattan to buy a pair of shoes. The salesman measured my foot and brought out two boxes of shoes to try them on. Both of the pairs had tassels on them. I asked if I could see some shoes without tassels, but he wouldn't show me any. He said the tassels were in style and I wouldn't look right if I didn't have them.
Now I have nothing against tassels, on shoes or anywhere, so I stared at those shoes trying to imagine myself wearing them. It was a moment of self discovery. I finally left without making a purchase. I don't know everything about myself but one thing I know for sure is that I am not a man who wears tassels on his shoes.
On day years ago my girl friend brought home a squid from the supermrket. Neither one of us knew how to cook a squid. I looked in The Joy Of Cooking but the directions were very complicated and the fact was we really didn't like squid. I don't know what possessed her to buy it but it sat in the refrigerator taking up space until we finally threw it out.
While in California I applied for a job as manager of a large Hollywood movie theatre, the kind of place that premiers new films. I could no more have done that job than fly to the moon. I don't know what urged me to apply for it but I'm grateful I wasn't hired.
Now, instead of fishing poles, squid and tasseled shoes, apply the same searchlight internally and find how many ideas, opinions, certainties, facts, convictions, patterns of speech and quirks of behavior you have that aren't really yours. Why do we pick things up from various sources and make them, or try to make them, our own? It's amazing how much we are influenced by things, most of which in the clear light of our reason make no sense at all. They wear us like tassels attached to us. They become unnecessary parts of our lives like fishing poles in the kitchen or squid in the refrigerator. If we don't reject them immediately they become part of us, taking up space in our lives, in our minds. Eventually we find out how useless they are and we have to throw them out.
The healthy, but often difficult, thing to do is to take inventory of ourselves, to face those moments of self discovery, to determine what possesses us that isn't true to us. It may be impossible to track some things down to their origin but to uncover them enables us to weigh their value and discard what is really useless or interfering with our harmony and reality.
Who owns the title to you? Who has the deed? And how much of you doesn't belong to you?
DB - The Vagabond
(This is not a contest.)
At what event of the past do you wish you could be present? Why?
8 responses so far.