Monday, January 25, 2010

Solving the Great Identity Riddle

WE’RE all just trying to find our place in the world. And this “place” must also fit in with our perceptions of ourselves. One reinforces the other—us and our place—or it tears the other apart. This is our most important life task. We cannot exist happily without accomplishing it.

Perhaps a story to illustrate: a very capable and accomplished pianist was set for a career in their city’s symphony orchestra. Their mother and stepfather had invested a veritable fortune in getting them through many hard years of lessons, recitals and performances. Yet, this young pianist wasn’t happy, not deep down. Needless to say, the performer never became a Mozart or Beethoven. They had not the heart for it. Their identities were not fused in the activity of art, much less playing piano. This person ended up happy working in childcare.

We’ve seen these stories played out in real life, in books and at the movies, a lot. The only one who can choose their destiny is the person living the life. Only they see what they see.

Yet, many of us are simply “happy” to live an average life that doesn’t transcend the thing ‘picked for us’ in the fading hope of finding that true essence of who we are. That’s madness. No wonder we go for crutch after thing after distraction after quick fix. Pushed from pillar to post, we rock back and forth all our lives, forever running from the real question:

‘What am I here for?’ ‘What is it that makes me tick?’ ‘What is it that turns me on?’

Plenty of things turn us off. These are quickly skipped over in the fervent search for the true heart’s desire. It takes courage to be honest enough to say, ‘No, that’s not truly for me.’

The second question, once we’ve heard the answer call of the first:

‘Am I cut out for it?’ ‘What do other people think?’ ‘Can I find my place in it?’

Skill and determination, talent and character, poise and attitude... whatever we call them, we need both. It’s the desire to do the thing and the necessary ability to do it. But, by far and away, however, it is lack of desire that proves the final death knell to our hopes.

And this is a very good thing for us, because it means we can do almost any of the things we want to do, so long as we’re happy to do them at the level (the place) we find ourselves in. If we truly believe in ourselves we can accomplish basically anything.

Our identities. They seal our fate. Finding out with ardour what we were always destined for—and doing it—is a great plan.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

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