“We live in an atmosphere of shame. We are ashamed of
everything that is real about us; ashamed of ourselves,
of our relatives, of our incomes, of our accents, of our opinions,
of our experience, just as we are ashamed of our naked skins.”
— George Bernard Shaw
“All my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere
I turned someone tried to tell me what it was. I accepted their
answers too, though they were often in contradiction and even
self-contradictory. I was naive. I was looking for myself and asking
everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer.
It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my
expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears
to have been born with: that I am nobody by myself.”
— Ralph Ellison
What other people say about what I do, how I live, or anything else about me, can be valuable, but I doubt it. First of all, it is rare enough that anyone will say anything important to me directly, so this means that if they are saying anything or thinking anything that it is being done without my knowledge. So be it. Frankly, I’m thankful they keep it to themselves and only appreciate it when they do, assuming they will.
However, I do respect and appreciate direct communication, and I don’t really mind that anything is said about what I do, how I live, or anything else about me, provided that what they are saying is not all negative. I’ve gotten to the point in my life that if people can’t find anything positive to say, I have no time or interest in hearing anything else they have to say.
I’ve also come to the point, thank God, that I am not ashamed of anything. I know there is a skeleton in every closet and though some are certainly well-hidden, they are there to be found for those interested in finding them.
But, this goes even further back to “let he who is without sin, cast the first stone,” or “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones,” and other such worthy cautions.
I adopted this attitude many years ago after reading a book by Leo Buscaglia. I don’t remember which book, but it might be Born To Love. Anyway, in the book, he talks about having a class of students at his home and it is autumn and there are leaves all over his lawn, while his neighbors have all cleared their lawns of any leaves. One neighbor came to the door to ask that he clean up his leaves that it is making an eyesore of the neighborhood or something like that. So, he argues that he likes the leaves, but the neighbor is not going along with that. Leo takes his class outside, they rake up the leaves and put them in plastic bags, he brings them back in the house and spreads the leaves all over the living room. (He must have been single at the time. . .) This way he and they could enjoy the leaves and give love to the neighbor at the same time.
Well, I’ve never forgotten that story, and that is pretty much how I have always felt about leaves, so my lawn is not pristine and that is okay with me. But it’s not about leaves and lawns, it is about being yourself, being okay with being yourself, not being embarrassed by being yourself or your tastes and preferences, and being not afraid to act yourself and express your preferences. Conformity is not for everyone.
“There is just one life for each of us: our own.”
Spread Some Joy Today–by being yourself, enjoying yourself, what you like and who you are. Let everyone else find their own joy, but focus on your own.