Photo by Jorunn Lorenzen
There are times in our lives when what was seemed so strong suddenly crumbles.
We look around and the very ground we stand on begins to disappear beneath our feet.
After such an event, you might wonder where you have been all those preceding years, asking yourself, “Was I really present as myself, or just following along?” We can become so disengaged and distracted with just being, and subsequently grow deaf, or even mute, towards the world within us.
How can we snap out of this trance? Does it have to be a life-shattering event? Do our insides need to be torn out just to get us back in touch with who we are as we put ourselves back together?
I was able to gaze afresh on my hometown just before I left, but it took this departure to get the wide-angle view again, to see the beauty and opportunity that I had felt fade inside me. And I couldn’t help but wonder how I could get this fresh approach again without having to endure a life-changing event.
I read a quote by Albert Einstein the other day: “Be a loner. That gives you time to wonder, to search for the truth. Have holy curiosity. Make your life worth living.” That really brought it home for me. It is in these moments of solace that you find the opportunity to earn a fresh approach. Whether you are single or constantly surrounded by family, you need to find moments of pure self-awareness, in which you can listen to/feel your emotions so as to gauge what is going on inside you.
You need to treat yourself as you do a good friend with regular catch-ups, whether through meditation, long walks, writing, or some other means.
Getting this right is important not just for yourself, but also for your interactions with others: How can you be there, fully engaged and giving your full attention, if you are not happy in your own right?
Shakespeare also had this awareness: “This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” I got this wrong before, thinking that you should always put the other person first. But how can you be there for another if you are lost and unhappy? If you are happy in your own shoes, you become inspiring, and people are drawn to that. It opens the channels to have those meaty conversations about the things that inspire us. You begin to put others first by putting yourself first.
So for me, I now agree with my friend who told me over lunch one weekend, “You just need to keep doing your thing, and if someone fits in with that, then that is great and it has a chance, but if not, then it isn’t going to work out.” I thought this was quite harsh to begin with, but now I take my hat off to her. Yes, you should always have respect, love, admiration, support, and care in all your relationships with people. But you need to look after you first so that you can be there for someone else.