January 21, 2013
My friend Steph gave me a lovely pocket mirror whose backside contains a classic Oscar Wilde quote: "Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." I placed this mirror in a compartment of my purse and then completely forgot about it. Last Friday, as I walked home from work--after a long day and a long week--I searched for something in my purse and happened upon this little treasure. Of course! Be yourself. This was a much-needed reminder.
The quotation can be applied in many situations: when imitating someone else's work (instead of finding your own path), when acting like someone else (in hopes of being liked and admired), or when assuming certain roles (rather than trusting yourself). The latter is where I firmly stood while digging in my purse last Friday. So when I saw the words "be yourself," I immediately smiled.
Last week I was trying to be the-best-teacher-in-the-world and a social director and a counselor and the-person-who-dreams-up-the-most-creative-photograph-ever. And in the process, I lost touch with myself--just briefly. Indeed, I'm at my best in the classroom when I'm myself; when I'm mindful; when I create from my heart, not from my desire for students to think I'm a great teacher. And my photography is most true when I listen to and trust myself. But sometimes I forget.
I can be pulled from the mindfulness path; lured into playing habituated roles or inhabiting comparing-mind (where I'm never as good as anyone else). This often happens when some strong emotion (e.g., fear, sadness, shame, hurt) is not given the care and attention it needs. Instead of feeling, I distract and busy myself, and then my ego is off to the races--do, achieve, run from your true self. But when I make time for myself--just sit and listen and feel and cry and love--then there's just enough softening that I return to my true intentions. I return to being me. And that makes me happy.