Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Finding Yourself & Forgetting Yourself

True happiness, we are told, consists in getting out of oneself; but the point is not only to get out, you must stay out; and to stay out you must have some absorbing errand”.
-Henry James
Without giving up hope that there’s somewhere better to be, that there’s someone better to be, we will never relax with where we are or who we are”.
-Pema Chodron
Don’t let a day go by without asking who you are”.
-Deepak Chopra
Some of you will remember my friend, Father Dennis.  He was a dear friend who lived near the monastery.  I used to take off one Friday every month to spend the day with him.  We met as young men.  Over the years we occasionally lost track of one another but when he retired to live near the monastery we reconnected.  He died suddenly about four years ago and I miss him terribly.  My priest son concelebrated his funeral mass along with the Archbishop.  Dennis is buried at the monastery.  When Dennis retired he bought two puppies.  He told me he did it in part because he needed to not think only of himself and his own needs.  I spent the night at Dennis’s home on occasion and trust me when I say these dogs ran the show and determined the schedule.  There was no need for an alarm clock.  When the dogs woke up, everyone woke up.  This is an example of an errand that gets you out of yourself and keeps you there.
I have always been a little obsessed with knowing who I am, why I am the way I am, and why I think and act like I do.  Even after 66 years I still occasionally have a new insight into who I am.  Sometimes the best understandings of who we are is when we face those parts of ourselves that may be a little hard to accept.  We are who we are for all kinds of reasons.  It starts with our family of origin and our place in that family.  It continues with our education and personality development.  Our origin and our development are further formed by our experiences whether they be good or bad or a little bit of both.  Some people let nature take its course and expect the rest of the world to deal with them.  Others study their own personality and work to be the best version of who and what they are.  We are all a little different but none of us are stuck into any particular patterns.  Self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom.  Know yourself better by daily asking yourself who you are.           

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