Finding yourself, coming of age, becoming are all descriptions of our search for identity. The last one is probably the best because it’s fluid and the most open-ended. The other two imply there’s a destination to the journey. While there are plateaus along the way where we feel a total sense of self, these are just moments and soon pass. Identity is neither found nor fabricated. It emerges from within when we have the courage to let go of who we think we are and experience the opportunities presented to us, even if that means we become the opposite.
Worrying about the future and living in the past can be exhausting and merely a means to distract ourselves from what’s really important. While there’s great value in crafting a vision of what we want our lives to be and learning from our histories, we can also become imprisoned by these uncertain potential realities and already determined past outcomes. To be truly free we must let go of both what waits ahead and what lies behind and focus on being mindful and aware and present in the moment. These are the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves and to those around us.
We hear so frequently about the importance of commitment, or are critical of someone’s fear of the same. But when we too often view commitment as the initial act of pledging ourselves to someone or something. We forget that this is only the first, and maybe the easiest, step in a much longer process. It’s what happens after that really makes the difference because surrendering to a person or cause creates expectations that we’ll be there for the entire journey, not just the start. Accepting the responsibility and following through on these expectations is the real test of our mettle.
From our waking hours to the closing of our days, we always seem to be doing something. Consumed with progress and achievement, our minds and bodies are in perpetual motion. We’re either planning what to do or making the next move to accomplish some goal. With so much focus on execution, we have a tendency to overvalue the importance of our efforts, that they will leave a mark and be remembered by many. But the reality is the ripples travel beyond our realization, affecting countless individuals and our surroundings. Just because we don’t experience the outcome, doesn’t mean our intentions are not felt.
We often create the craziness surrounding us. In the throes of such bedlam, we ask, Why do we keep doing this to ourselves? While self-sabotage might be a hurdle we have to overcome, it doesn’t explain all our moth-like affinity for the flame. Some of this is simply a need for adventure, some excitement and unpredictability in a too often mundane journey. We just can’t get lost in the turmoil and disorder, or worse, become addicted to it. We must balance the chaos with periods of tranquility. It’s during this equanimity that we’re able to create something useful from it.