So a little late, again, sorry (start of school year chaos).
So a week and a half ago I recommended you go over what you want in life. Is what you want going to lead to your happiness? Is it something you have control over? Is it something that only takes a change in attitude to gain?
This week I want you to look at the other question I put to you a few weeks ago: Who am I?
It’s not an easy question. Most of us will spend a lifetime trying to answer it.
For me the easiest way to understand who I am is the value and causes I champion.
For me liberty is the all important virtue of the political world. The lack of it I believe has been the greatest impediment to personal, social, economic, and spiritual growth for the last 6,000 years. I believe it is a cause worth fighting for, worth dying for, and worth living for. (The last one there is the really important part).
And from what I can glean about my past lives, this fight has pretty much been the defining issue in most of my lives.*
Not that this is what you personally should use to define your life. But what is a life if it is not for something? You have to be working toward something? What is that you have that’s worth dying and living for?
Another good way I find to define your life is by the virtues you admire and wish to possess.
I’m not going to go through a list of the virtues I admire here, but as any regular reader of this blog probably can figure out, humility is not on my list…but just because it’s not on my list doesn’t necessarily mean it shouldn’t be on yours. Use what you consider to be virtues not what other people do. And when you have that list, ask yourself what are you doing to make yourself an exemplar of the virtues you admire?
And finally a good way to look at who you are is by looking at which people you admire and want to be more like. Emulation has been a time-honored tradition of driving us to be our best and understand who we are from Aristotle’s Ethics to the slightly more trite WWJD. Now honestly I prefer using fictional characters as the archetype to emulate because real people come with problems. Either the person you’re emulating has numerous flaws (because they’re human) or they’re a saint. And when looking for someone to emulate flaws can be a major distraction (especially if it’s someone you’ve idolized for a while only to discover later that they were really screwed up). And as for saints, the virtues of a saint are not exactly what most people need in life, unless you’re a saint. It’s why I don’t like the phrase “What would Jesus do?” because the correct answer for 99% of all possible situations is “Perform a miracle and give a sermon”—which fails slightly at being useful advice for most of the situations we might encounter.
Now I like fictional characters because unlike real people it’s easier to know them. With a real person you either have to know them personally or you don’t understand all the complexities and reasons they had for certain actions (that and in reality very few famous figures in history in the modern world are not hideously screwed up individuals). But fictional characters, for all their depth and layers, are people you are to able grasp the whole of their being.
Now for me personally I look to Don Quixote and Cyrano de Bergerac as my guiding stars. Follow your convictions and beliefs, damn the consequences, you’ll be a better person for it. And I have found this to be very true. But what works for me may not work for you.
The main point to all of this is do you know who you are and do you know who you want to be? Because if you don’t how do you know what you really want and how do you know how to act?
These are questions you should reflect on this week.
*Before you make any comments about that sentence let me say that if you don’t believe in reincarnation, you are so incredibly on the wrong blog.