February 14th, 2011
Distance Since last Update: 74 miles.
Total Distance for Tour: approx. 1065 miles
LOCATION: Lagrange, GA
STATUS: Calming my mind. There’s too much flowing through it right now.
Become who You Are (True Confidence and Your Reason for Everything)
Today is Valentine’s Day, but I don’t feel very romantic at the moment. The emotion I feel now is more one of defiance than love. Thoughts are coming to me too quickly to properly capture them, but I will try to translate the chaos of ideas as they flow.
I’m eating some chicken from the “Hong Kong Express” in the mall in downtown Lagrange, GA. As I stare down at my food, my mind is running a hundred miles ahead, past the moment. I just discovered something, and I’m trying to decide what it means and how to explain it. Sometimes, I find lessons in the strangest places. I found today’s lesson as I looked into the eyes of the Chinese immigrant scooping sweet and sour chicken and fried rice into my Styrofoam tray.
Suddenly, I became aware of a harsh reality: This person lacks a great deal of power in American society. Since she has not mastered English, she lacks the voice to express herself with the clarity that many take for granted. As humans, we are social animals, and in the modern world, more than ever, it is our social capabilities that determine our potential. I appreciated the struggle of this displaced immigrant, but this was not entirely new. I’ve thought these things before, and I’ve certainly felt this frustration and pain for someone else’s plight before. No, something else struck me today. It was hard to define, but it had something to do with harsh realities, lack of voice, what we think we want, why we want it, and what we ought to want.
I had perceived it correctly: The woman could greatly increase her voice and social status, if she could master the English language, but there was something irking me. Elsewhere and elusive, it was something a little more important than status. I began to think about why we wish to increase our status, possessions, external acceptance, and even fame in the first place. It’s not just a lust driving us forward to ever greater heights. That’s too idealistic. There must be something incomplete in us that requires this rabid race toward something we have rarely defined for ourselves.
Why should I need for you to call me “Doctor” or to praise and adore my accomplishments or possessions? Why should I not be able to act and affirm my own act, to create and affirm my own creation, and to live and affirm my own life? The truth is that great accomplishment should flow naturally from a greatness that already lies within. We shouldn’t strive endlessly in hopes that external praise and adoration will fill the internal void. We should strive greatly to fill a great external void through the overflow of our joy and strength. That is where we find joy, strength, and fulfillment. That is where we are recognized for having done great things, because we didn’t need the recognition in the first place.
It’s the internal appraisal that must be given the final say. It is only when we accept not only who we are but also what we are trying to become that we can move with confidence. In a sense, you will become great not when you are running from your own emptiness or inadequacy but when you are moving calmly and firmly, yet tenaciously, in the direction you have chosen for yourself.
Voice is needed, yes, but I fear we only wish to exert ourselves, our influence, our name, and our “personal brand” so loudly because we are uncomfortable with the internal, unanswered questions: Who am I? Am I good enough? More importantly, can I become what I want to be? Do I know and can I affirm exactly what that is?
And so we walk on crooked legs, and every action seems to be a parody of itself. We are imposters not in just a few particulars, but in all particulars, because we don’t truly believe in ourselves or our actions. This is not simply a matter of failing to accept our current selves. Actually, dissatisfaction is a great stimulus for growth and can be positive. Instead, it is a disbelief in who we are trying to become. If you are asking yourself, “Am I good enough to be what I want to become,” I suggest that you answer your question most purely when you act toward becoming what you envision. Your action is a great “yes,” it is the justification you seek. Actions creates a certainty: That you can and should become who you are. In a sense, you must do it for it to be true, but first you must learn to want “it.” Do you still long for great things?
Be careful that your confidence does not become arrogance. I don’t just want to give strength and voice to those I affect. That alone would be an exercise in futility. Nothing is less attractive than a loud voice that has not been refined. No one is more unbearable than he who can only hear or appreciate his own voice. You must also learn to listen. If you don’t, you will be doomed to a life of isolation, as no one will truly desire your company. Worse, you will suffer many unnecessary hardships, because you will fail to learn from others.
What is more, I also desire to purify the desires of those I affect, just as I purify my own. I wish to take away desires for more possession and adoration and replace them with a desire for more life. I should like that you would want a life that only you have the courage, commitment, and love to create for yourself. That should be your highest longing. At the end of the day, a burrowed life, however easy or luxurious, still belongs to someone else. I wish to help you to learn to understand what I mean when I say:
May you choose your own path, and may your own affirmation of that path be enough for you. May you create your path through the labor of your own heart, body, mind, and spirit. Such a path is full, and though it be painful and hard, he who walks it walks as one who is alive.
Do you understand those words? And no, I’m not asking if you understand the basic concept. There is a limit beyond which written and spoken language cannot go. It is in the place of total acceptance, where a belief, courage, and faith become your own, instead of a burrowed philosophy belonging to someone else. If you understand like that, you will never be lost, because you will be your own home, your own reality, your own universe. You see, the greatest creation and affirmation comes when you create yourself, and say, “Yes.”
Who are you? What do you become? Can you give that great “Yes?” Can you give it for yourself?