The above thought has morphed in meaning for me over recent months. I used to think of it within the context of kids with prince or princess syndrome and recall how we were never raised to consider ourselves to be anything more than we were. We were always smacked in line when we got ahead of ourselves, and we were always reminded that we weren’t the most important people in the world either. Sometimes that felt grounding, and at times it felt as if something was lacking from my childhood. But neither one of those inclinations of interpretation defined me. It simply was a truth of my life that I reflected on from time to time.
More recently, I find myself veering towards seeing it as a validation of my contribution. It reminds me that all I am capable of giving is all I will ever be capable of giving, and in reflecting on this more deeply, it seems to be a definition that can easily ground me. Of course, the nagging danger of complacency rings true with it as well, which means that its definition of me remains qualified and not absolute.
Strolling through the surf today, I was visited with a familiar feeling that I experienced too seldom in my life. It was that feeling I got on occasions when I felt like I was truly taking care of me. While I’ve seen the need to serve others as being a legitimate calling of mine in life, I have become acutely aware at times of my neglect of my own needs in the process. Not in a self indulgent way, but simply taking care of the vessel that I leverage in my desire to serve. I remember one winter afternoon many years ago, I walked some distance from my car and felt the icy highveld wind of Johannesburg stinging my cheeks. I wore a knitted polar neck jersey, and a comfortably padded jacket. It felt as if it hugged me and for a very fleeting moment, I felt taken care of. It was a strange sensation then, and an even stranger realisation now. But it was a simple fleeting moment like that that made me aware of the type of care that I deserved from myself for myself.
Due consideration and reasonable investment. Not over indulgence or extravagance. The former defines the value I place on myself while the latter defines the value I place on myself over others. It was a fine line that I’ve seen too many cross, and my revulsion at their behaviour always taunted me when I even approached that limit. How I see myself is most likely a distant cry from the way others see me. Their reflections of me only hold sway if their credibility commands respect. Like me, the credibility of most comes into question, especially when viewed through ill-informed lenses.
Knowing this to be true, I dwell very little on how others see me. I acknowledge their right to an opinion, and the need to express that opinion, but if it stops at being an opinion without substance, it stops being important to me even before they’ve completed expressing it.
No more than me. That idea dictates that in knowing the truth of it, I need to know the truth of me. It will anyways be an incomplete truth, but like it is with life, all endeavors for perfection will remain incomplete. However, just because the goal itself cannot be fully attained does not mean that there is no merit in its pursuit. And so I continue the journey of discovering me, while being careful not to over indulge or under invest in the process.