Over at The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin has a list of personal commandments, the first of which is “Be Gretchen.” If you read the “Be Gretchen” post, you discover something rare: someone reflecting on the sadness of what it means to be yourself. To be your “self” means to choose to not be (and do) lots of other things. Once you know who you are, there are things that your life just doesn’t have space for anymore. And it all makes sense because of your “mission.”
Writers and books have always had a major influence on the way I think about things. Francis Schaeffer, Dallas Willard, Frederick Buechner, Thomas Merton, Barbara Brown Taylor, and Czeslaw Milosz, to name some of the major ones. I was reading again through Merton’s Seeds of Contemplation this morning, and I came across this:
“Many poets are not poets for the same reason that many religious men are not saints: they never succeed in being themselves. They never get around to being the particular poet or the particular monk they are intended to be by God. They never become the man or the artist who is called for by all the circumstances of their individual lives. They waste their years in vain efforts to be some other poet, some other saint.” One of the major themes of Seeds is that God is the one who holds our true identity, so there is an interesting relationship between hunting for God and hunting for your truest self, the one that is not illusion and selfishness.
These thoughts come into play this week as I take yet another shot at this play I’m writing. My current process of writing is as much about finding my work as it is about the final piece that emerges. But my intuition tells me I’m missing something here, and that I need to pay attention to this stream of thought about “being Jeff.” We’ll see.
Go and do your work today. Be the “you” you were meant to be, your better self.