ON KNOWING YOURSELF

The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.
–  Carl Gustav Jung

Who are you?

I do not mean ramble on what is your personality like according to the Myers–Briggs type indicator, nor to prattle on the origins of your family name or your zodiac sign. These are details that, of course, do contribute to your identity. How attached to them are you? Doesn’t the importance you give to them hinder you from achieving potential change?

When undergoing a self-assessment of his personality, one tends to remember better the positive aspects. This makes sense as one shall generally choose to introduce himself to new encounters through a favorable light in order to make a good first impression, rather than denigrating his own self. As one thus keeps presenting himself according to the very same set of values, the negative parts are often left out of the equation, making a seemingly very little mark on his mind.

Isn’t it human, after all, to simply choose to focus on the good rather than the bad?

At times, concentrating on the favorable elements in our lives is indeed the only way to perceive the end of the tunnel. In some cases, it may even serve as a life-saving action. Yet, one ought not to forget that as human beings we are works in progress. Life means constant evolution, embracing changes, undertaking new experiences. This means learning to navigate through the ebbs and flows of life. In order to manage it, one has to accept that there is a balance in the way he is, but that shall not hinder him from modifying its weight. 

We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.
– May Sarton

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BCN, May 2020, GC

Aren’t you willing to grow?

I recently fathomed out that the great and prime patience I, for so long, believed I had was not truly reflected in my actions. I can be quite impatient at times and with my stubbornness, it is often likely to lead me to waves of anger. It is never pleasant to realize that you possess such and such flaw, let alone acknowledging it to your peers. And yet, it is also the only way to work on it. It is always the first step to take in order to progress.

It seems needless to say that this is not an easy task, for it requires a constant self-evaluation. Moreover, it demands a certain kind of strength to accept ourselves in our most vulnerable state  – the most genuine and authentic. Many people, as frightened as they are to conquer their fears, are not willing to confront themselves. In the same way, they could be intimated to disclose their true self in front of their peers.

Indeed, it takes a lot of courage to be authentic but there is no other alternative to self-growth. Perfection is unattainable. One cannot forever hide beneath the covers of an illusory self, as they eventually fade. This does not mean proclaiming all of your defects from the rooftops, but simply not pretending to be someone you are not and thus not lying to yourself.

***

All in all, to fully know know oneself requires to, sometimes, shift the focus, see yourself through a different lens and be ready and willing to evolve.

Do not worry, the universe will test you and if you pay enough attention will always show you the way.

how well do you truly know yourself?

Le Canzoni. Jovanotti.

ON BRAVERY

Courage isn’t the absence of fear. Courage is feeling the fear and stepping out anyway.


What is that makes one brave? Many define bravery as a trait that seems to be only perceivable from the outside. It is as though when one turns inwards there is no way he could think of it.It is as though a restriction existed on that adjective to be used as in self-descriptions.

Did we cease to see bravery as a quality at some point? Did our society condition us to assume that all paths were predestined to be filled with sorrows and suffering? Did we thus get accustomed to the idea that a human being is inherently a warrior, designed to overcome life’s harshest obstacles? A concept that would also happen to be the explanation behind the fight or flight response.

We have come to deprecate the value of courage as if it were one that most people own. Yet, truth is, although anyone can acquire it, one is not magically born with it. Perhaps, to find courage, as we phrase it, is the only approach to cope with unendurable experiences.

Oftentimes, we hear the recurrent line of thought in the testimony of individuals who have triumphed over the greatest hardships: ‘I did not choose to be this way, to keep going, I simply had to, it was my only chance of survival and I just perceived it as living.’ Strength of character does not arise overnight. It mainly requires heaps of efforts and every so often painstaking actions.

BCN, May 2020, GC

One is more likely to hide behind all of his strengths than publicly acknowledging his former battles and showing off.It is almost as though we carried a sense of shame if our past victories were painlessly confessed. Years ago, believing that the attention-seeking aspect prevailed most of the time, I used to be continuously suspicious of people who were, for instance, openly dwelling upon their personal troubles in the media. Perhaps this was merely the result of a very long time of bottling feelings up and not being able to confess my own issues.

I came to the realization that not everyone has to deal with the same problems. Everyone will someday encounter the same amount of pain than his peers but, for now, one may have no clue what this affliction means. And this is fine. Life is not linear as some like to consider it. As the French say, la roue tourne.

Perhaps this is the reason why courage can only be gained. At some point in our life, we all should get to proclaim ourselves ‘brave’ and we shall accept the label without guilt or embarrassment. Nevertheless, some beings still encounter courage more often than others and it becomes a practice – a ritual, a faith, a way of life. The only way.A part of their mind, body and soul.

Then, we warriors of light must be prepared to have patience in difficult times and to know that the Universe is conspiring in our favor even though we may not understand how. 

Paulo Coelho


And sometimes, bravery is the countless other things that we tend not to ponder on.

Bravery is believing despite all the bumps encountered on the road. Bravery is hoping beyond belief. It is constant perseverance. It is confronting fear, be it knowingly or not. Bravery is accepting to be honest and therefore vulnerable no matter what. Bravery is being yourself in all circumstances. It is remaining a genuine being at all times. Bravery is moving on, going forward, through thick and thin. It is catching the last beam of light in the darkness. And at times, being brave merely means being aware, in the bleakest moment,that you have held on thus far and realizing how brave you are.

what makes you brave?

La vie ne vaut rien (reprise). Tim Dup.

ON SUFFERING

‘There is no real joy without suffering’, academician, writer and poet François Cheng proclaimed. ‘The writer has to bear all the world’s misery on his shoulders in order to transform it, transfigure it into light’, he continued. This is the greatest gift of the writer, as he emphasized in his discourse. Indeed, one has to be aware of the cruelty, the wrongdoings and the gloom surrounding him so as to overcome it.

Is pain our doom, at times more prominent in certain people’s lives than others? This inevitable emotion is one that every being undergoes at some point in their existence and to a certain extent. It is universal. It is human.

A few years, Andrew Solomon, during a conference, tackled the correlation between pain and identity. Is there an explanation that can make sense of pain? What is the meaning of the mass murders that have happened throughout history? The reason behind these actions seems meaningless? It is certainly difficult to find the meaning of senseless enterprises undertaken by an individual who comes across as mad as a hatter. In Solomon’s words, it is thus about ‘forging meaning rather than trying to find meaning’.

“When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

Haruki Murakami

Suffering is inescapable — this is the grand lesson that people who have experienced the most traumatic episodes that life can generate.

‘How did you make it through all these terrible events?’, one often asks in awe.
‘Well, there was no other choice for me than to endure and survive it’, the latter would reply.

Oftentimes, in a child’s mind, the idea of injustice lives on. ‘Why do these unfortunate occurrences keep happening to me and to my family?’, more than once I thought to myself. ‘Why is life so unfair?’ And yet, after a while, one learns the value of suffering, otherwise, it would be purposeless to carry on.

Suffering thus forges identity. It allows us to observe the full spectrum. For without the darkness, there would be no light. Without the cold, there would be no warmth. Without death, there would be no life. Without negativity, there would be no positivity. No experience would be unique. No happiness could be utterly felt without having ever encountered sadness.

It is the path that one walks on over the years that grants one with lessons of strength, humility, and humanity. Indeed, none of these words would have been put down a page if I had never gone through this personal journey of torment and discovery. In my early state of lostness, I looked up to one of the great Hemingway’s quotes: ‘In order to write about life, you must first live it’. Thus, today I write for I know of the world’s misery, I reminisce about the agreeable memories and fantasize about unpredictable future in writing and the passion reminds me that I am living, and for far too long in the past, I did not.

There are countless more lessons in a life lived through pain than in an uneventful and quiet life. There is gratitude brought out of the bleakest moments. There is the acceptance of life itself and all that it embodies — as we say, the good, the bad and the ugly. There is the acceptance of the impermanence of things. This is the acceptance of the human condition.

The only truths of hardships are awareness and gratitude.

which hardship has shaped you the most into the person you are now?

Indochine. La vie est belle.