Friday, November 26, 2010

Owning Yourself

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.

Thank you.


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

Shedding our excess baggage and being true to ourselves is a great thing. I think I reached that level a year or two back, the key is to maintain.

pacifica62 said...

Who owns the title to "me". Good question and worthy of some thought. When I look at me, I see a collage of several people. I am much like my Grandmother in many ways. I resemble my mother physically and medically, I even have traits of neatness and orderliness from my dad. I suppose all of these people hold the deed to me, or it has become that way more and more so as I age. So much from those people is ingrained in me now and it is who I have become. Not sure I belong to me or to them.

Valerie said...

I loved this. I needed to hear it. I think my biggest problem are the "tapes" that play in my head that were place their from childhood. Those have been the hardest to get rid of. My parents are still trying to tell me who I am and what I can and cannot do and be. I don't like it. I am fighting hard against it. I am getting better! Thanks, Dana. I hope you had a pleasant Thanksgiving Day. Take care, Val =)

Rose said...

Hey DB!

I also refused to buy shoes with tassels on them for my husband.....I just didn't like them either.

So, I guess I own my own title and owned my husband's as well at the time! LOL God rest his soul!

I always thought it was strange that people would all go along with a designer's new look even if they didn't like it.....they wanted to look like they were in the "In Crowd".......

I enjoyed reading this Post. I wouldn't have purchased the squid! Yet, my husband liked it.......LOL

Hugs, Ros3e

Lori said...

This sort of epiphany has come to me before. I remember one of my sisters saying about herself that she had very thin lips. I grew up thinking I had lips that were too thin, because I thought this particular sister was very pretty, and if her lips were thin then mine must be. I was an older teen when I actually said something about my "thin" lips to her and she looked at me, surprised, and said, "Your lips aren't thin!" And I realized she was right! Silly story, I know, but it is funny how we get an idea or opinion in our head and then realize years later that it was never really our own idea or opinion.