Monday, June 25, 2007

The Three Tenets

For me midlife is about coming to an acceptance about the past and realising that whilst it may well have shaped the present, there are perhaps some things worth carrying forward and others that need to be jettisoned along the way. That is not about totally wiping everything that has gone before, for much of it is good, it is about learning what is the truth. There are three things I have learnt that I think are worth discussing and I'll throw them up here for anyone to contribute there own thoughts to.

"To thine own self be true" - William Shakespeare

What exactly does this mean? For me it is about recognising that doubts are OK. There is nothing wrong with accepting that there are times when we must compromise what we believe, or what we would really like to do, in order to satisfy the needs of the other people in our lives. That compromise is not about being untrue to ourselves but a recognition that we all have roles to play and there is good in playing those roles to the best of our ability. Thus the father is different to the son, and the friend to the husband or lover. We can be true to ourselves in every role we play if we recognise the boundaries of those roles and the fact that our true self is an amalgam of all of those parts. We should also embrace the fact that each and every role is legitimate and important in determining who we are.

I am coming to realise that each mask I have worn is part of who I am. I no longer need to sort through and seek to jettison any one of them, but I can celebrate the true diversity of who and what I am.

"I yam what I yam and thats all I yam" - Popeye

Simply said but a really important thing to accept. Never try to be something you are not - in the end you will get found out. The person who tries to play a role that they do not believe in will eventually be destroyed by the contradictions and inconsistencies in their behaviour. You cannot be more nor less than what you are. That is not to say that we cannot become better people than who we currently are, which brings me to the next tenet.

"The only person I have to be better than is who I am right now" - Colonel Sherman Potter, MASH 4077

I wrote this down many years ago when I first heard it. It is this tenet that allows us to recognise that we all have weaknesses that we need to work on. We can all be more loving, more compassionate, more passionate and more caring. We can all make a difference to the lives of others, by a smile or paying a favour forward, or volunteering in our community in some manner. And we can do it in small steps that makes us a slightly better person than the one we were yesterday.

If we can come to understand each of these three things, we can begin to place our self into the true context of our lives. The self doubts and the lack of self esteem that seem to be hallmarks of the "crisis" part of midlife can then be put aside. In being true to ourselves we can learn that it is OK to accept all of the parts that make us who we are, and then we can begin to work on making ourselves better people. And the other important thing to understand is that we don't have to get better than anyone else, or wear the burdens of other peoples beliefs of who we are, we simply need to be honest to ourselves and do our best. But don't worry that your best isn't always of the same standard.


paisley said...

what a lovely post, loz,, i came away with a feeling of calm,, and all is right with the world....

Finn said...

May I add:

Sonnet CXXI, William Shakespeare (my personal favorite)

’Tis better to be vile than vile esteem’d
When not to be receives reproach of being;
And the just pleasure lost, which is so deem’d
Not by our feeling, but by others’ seeing:
For why should others’ false adulterate eyes 5
Give salutation to my sportive blood?
Or on my frailties why are frailer spies,
Which in their wills count bad what I think good?
No, I am that I am, and they that level
At my abuses reckon up their own: 10
I may be straight though they themselves be bevel;
By their rank thoughts my deeds must not be shown;
Unless this general evil they maintain,
All men are bad and in their badness reign.

Josie Two Shoes said...

Some really deep thoughts here, Loz and good ones! I totally agree on all three counts, and especially the comment near the end about wearing the burdens of other peoples beliefs of who we are. The older I get the more content I am to just be myself and accept that, while - as you noted - still continuing to work on self improvement. At this stage of my life the most important change was coming to realize that the ultimate role we can play is to care for, be of service to, and encourage others... it's easy and fun! :-) Additionally, quiring "stuff" becomes more and more meaningless as the years pass. It's not what we have, but who we have in our lives that matters!

Anonymous said...

Very nice quotes and explanations, I'll try to stick to them ;)

Jeff said...

Thanks, Loz. I needed that confirmation today.

Random Magus said...

... trying so hard to do these... sometimes it's so tough!!!

Loz said...

Paisley - actually felt a bit muddled writing this one but I'm glad it had that effect

Finn - of course you may add

Josie - wise words. I think we not only need to recognise the baggage but also not be afraid to jettison some and retain it if it helps.

Wonder - thankyou

Jeff - I for one am glad that you have not become the recluse you hinted at a few days ago.

Amber - Yes it is hard and by writing it down I'm starting to make sense of it.

Anonymous said...


What a great, heartfelt post.

I've begun to do a little searching myself, reconciling the past with how my present (and possibly future) is unfolding. Through this, I've become incredibly passive when it comes to me, myself and I.

I whole heartedly recommend it...

Rick said...

I believe it was Mark Twain who said, "The truth is so much easier to remember than the lies." If he didn't, then I will.

"Wolfgang" said...

Excellent post! The Shakespeare quote is one that I'm sure will be making an appearance on my blog at some point. I also like the Col. Potter quote.

Its amazing the common places where we can find uncommon wisdom.

Today has been a day of clarification for me as well. I will be posting about it in the morning. Its all kind of swimming around in my head right now.

Thanks so much for the insight!

meleah rebeccah said...

First, Nice to "meet you" and thanks for commenting on my site!

(we have the same "blogger taste", as we seem to read alot of the same people)


"There is nothing wrong with accepting that there are times when we must compromise what we believe, or what we would really like to do, in order to satisfy the needs of the other people in our lives"

I do that all the TIME with my parents. (and my son)

The problem (for me) is that I end up resentful sometimes because of it. Sometimes I feel like a slave to them, and wish I could do what I wanted to do, instead of doing what makes THEM happy....

Loz said...

Seiche - all part of the journey and I for one don't yet know how it will really unfold.

Rick - whoever said it was a wise man.

Wolfgang - I'm learning a lot by reading how other people cope

Mel - that desire to appease others is something we all do to varying degrees. The answer to the feeling of resentment is in finding a balance and learning to enjoy and demand the "me" time.

Thankyou all for dropping by and commenting.