Monday, April 20, 2009

Being Who We Are

Nothing gives me less enthusiasm for the beginning of a new work week than a Monday morning commute in the pouring rain. Can anything be more depressing? I was very happy that Saturday was a beautiful day since I had to drive to the monastery and thousands of other people would be gathering downtown for the air show and Thunder over Louisville fireworks display. Sunday, however, was the complete opposite of Saturday. It poured down rain all day. I don't mind the pouring rain when I am in the solitude of my home with a good book and a brand new roof. Overall, with the sunshine and the rain, a visit to the monastery, a visit from my granddaughter, and a Sunday afternoon of solitude and napping, it was a great weekend. Like most weekends, however, it was mostly non stop activity lived at warp speed. I know everyday is 24 hours but Einstein's theory of relativity is played out well when you compare a weekend day to a work week day.

Self knowledge is a double edged sword. I have a friend at work that I rarely see. We IM and email one another and occasionally we talk on the phone. Before we actually met she received my old email version of daily thoughts and she liked them very much. She would sometimes write back and tell me that she had many of the same thoughts as me. It seemed that we were very much alike even though she is a woman and I am a man, to say nothing of the fact that I am quite a bit older. A few months ago someone suggested I join Facebook. It's a little addictive but it also has some fun elements to it. I'm not sure where they originate but Facebook offers many fun and interesting personality tests. As someone who is nearly obsessed with acquiring self knowledge and understanding, I take several of these tests every week and always find them enlightening. The amazing thing about these seemingly silly little tests is how accurate they often are in their assessment of me and others. The friend I mention above has also taken some of these tests. In her last note to me she said, "I thought we were very much alike but these tests seem to suggest otherwise". Unaided by science, I don't know if anyone is a clone of anyone else. Each person has so many subtleties and nuances. However, I think many people, including my friend, often share many similarities and that is why they feel a connection with other people. With this particular friend I sensed a connection just after a few business related conversations on the telephone. My own Facebook test results are not 100% accurate but they are very true, not necessarily of the actual life I live, but very often of the life that maybe I should be living. I think it is not uncommon to sometimes feel you are in the wrong life and that you are often forced to live a life that requires you to compromise who you really are. I didn't begin to find myself or understand my self on a deep level until I was in my 40's. By that time much of my life seemed planted in concrete. My new found self knowledge in many ways became a source of frustration rather than freedom. It seemed to explain some of my unhappiness but was also sometimes difficult to apply to the life I actually had. So what do you do? Some people suggest that you should follow your heart and live the life you were meant to live no matter what. Their belief is that our individual lives are more important than the lives of others. However, I think it is reckless and a little selfish to live like this. I may not be in the most optimal situation to be completely and fully who I am but it's where life has planted me at this moment. I cannot abandon or disregard the commitments and relationships that I have made and formed. I think there is some truth to the saying "Bloom where you are planted". Life is a mystery. Just because I am here now and the soil doesn't always feel right doesn't mean I will be here always. Someday life may transplant me to a new place where the soil, sunlight, and rainfall are exactly perfect for me. Then again, maybe it won't. That's part of the mystery of life.

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