"No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee."
Devotions upon Emergent Occasions
The people we allow into our lives, spend our time with, communicate with and share time and space with have a profound and continuing influence on who we are as an individual. The communities we choose, and those that welcome us, have a role in defining who we are, how we perceive ourselves and the actions we take in the world around us. As we live and thrive in these groups of people, interpersonal relationships, and knots of our peers, we continually define, seek, organize, find meaning and discover not only who we are, but what we choose to make our lives about.
As I think of my family, my friends and the myriad of faces that have comprised my past and currently make up my sphere of existence, I am somewhat confused about how they all became a part of my life. I meet people in the course of my daily routine, visiting and exchanging words at the coffee shop, sharing hours of work with my other associates, celebrating events and days with family, attending church, going to the theater and social gatherings, all the places that my body finds itself in the midst of the choices that I am presented with each day that I have lived. I could go into great detail about different friendships, dynamics and ideas of social congregation, but that really is not what is on my mind at this moment. Perhaps I will save those thoughts for another post in the future, but more than likely, it will slip my mental grasp and be lost like so many other paths of thought have in the past. I will not fret because I do have a firm grasp on the mind cable that is attached to this one.
Of these people, as I sit and think a bit, only a small select few have ever accepted me, just as I am, right that very moment and for all the other seconds, minutes, days and hours as our lives overlap and berth against each other in this dock of days. While each person brings with them their world view and beliefs about the experiences they have, all too often they are intent in not only sharing all of their life pictures with me, but they also seemed fixated upon the concept of persuading me to their perspective and altering the very fabric of my reality in order to fit the schema and path they have laid out for themselves. In essence, for reasons I at times understand and other moments have no knowledge of, they believe that my life and theirs will be better served by changing me.
Now granted, I want to be accepted, known and loved as much as any other human that I have met, and as such, I tend to present myself and my life in a somewhat carefully tailored package in order to be the most palatable to the broadest of audiences and least offensive to others unlike myself. I used to feel that this was a good approach to life, but as the years pass, I am learning that it has become an emotional armor that I use in order to protect my true emotions and camouflage myself into a sort of social anonymity. I only assert myself when I vehemently disagree with something or when I do not understand what is going on, but in other respects I am content in watching many people and events just pass me by.
This has not brought about a life of integrity and authenticity and I am slowly learning this by observing more of what others say and do and letting down those walls of self protection that have been erected over so many years, for various reasons. I guess in some respects, I have begun paddling against the current of life and have started simply being present and self aware to a much larger degree. I speak up now, and instead of couching my words and phrases to appeal and win approval, I am stating my mind, as I know it at that time, based on my past experiences and feelings. I have started making choices based on what I personally would like to do or want, and simply communicating to others the motivation for my somewhat baffling change in behavior. If I do not want to be somewhere, I leave. If I want to do something, I go do it. If I have something to say, I think a moment, and then say it. When I disagree or do not understand, I say something right then.
The people who have subtly and overtly been trying to modify me, my actions or thoughts are no longer very welcome in my life. I will maintain friendships with those I love and trust, but the individuals who have sought to manipulate me for their own reassurances and the bolstering of their systems of thoughts and actions are slowly fading to the sides of the central stage. I am welcoming people who disagree with me to speak their minds and sharpening the edge of who I am on the communication that takes place in the middle ground.
I have a few key individuals in my life who accept me, just as I am, with all my current flaws, eccentricities, strengths, weakness, moments of inspiration and odd perspective on life. I know they care about me and want to see me live my best life first. I find an immense amount of gratitude for those who tolerate my bewildered perspective, confused ideas, misunderstood and often skewed vision of the world around me. They do not want to change me. The want to know me. They want to be known. And in this overneath of the innertween...I find friendship.
I find love.
I find myself.
“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”