O Sister, Where Art Thou?
All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost. J.R.R. Tolkien – The Fellowship of The Ring
Some believe that in order to find ourselves we have to get so lost that we can't see a path to get out. Then we become forced to create our own. To say that I've been lost as an individual since my son was born would be an overgeneralization. But it wouldn't be false. I knew that my life was shifting, but when you're living one day at a time it is hard to see the magnitude of the change.
It grew so difficult to see my own path that I actually asked my best friend if she would help me think of some future careers she thought I would be good at because I literally couldn't think of anything for myself. And weeks before that, my husband asked me at dinner one evening what I would want to do next, if I could have any job or do any thing. I looked at him dumbly. I had no answer. That's how pathetically out of touch with myself I was.
I'll confess, I'm not an overly ambitious sort of person. More like hobbit, mostly content in my little corner of the world with my cozy home, a few close friends, good food and parties. But like the Bagginses, I love a good story and enjoy a little adventure. So when we moved to upstate New York and had a baby I didn't mind putting myself on the back-burner for my growing family. My time would come, I knew, eventually. And it seems that time is now.
The tricky thing about self-awareness is definitely the self part, the awareness of one's own individuality. Evaluating our current behavior to our internal standards and values. In the philosophy of self, self-awareness is the experience of one's own personality. Not to be confused with consciousness, which is being aware of one's environment and body and lifestyle, self-awareness is the recognition of that awareness. Self-awareness is how an individual consciously knows and understands their own character, feelings, motives, and desires.
Sound difficult? It is. Even those who strive to be actively self-aware fall short of thoroughly understanding. But shouldn't that be what differentiates us? The effort, the importance, the priority we make to understand? And I don't mean those people who think they're self-aware, who see themselves the way they want others to see them and not for who they actually are. I know many people this way.
Humility is a foundational pillar in my philosophy. Knowing that I know nothing. I call it the "King Solomon Syndrome,"or the "Jon Snow Complex" if you prefer. (Which is an ironic characteristic of many aspiring philosophers. Like why do I love trying to understand the incomprehensible? My spectrum of insanity is not missing on me.) And while I didn't truly know the answer to my husband's question, I did know some things. I like pretty homes, organization and planning, reading and writing, fashion and fitness, traveling and wine. Right, so a Stepford Wife? Not helpful.
Fast forward a few uncomfortable and challenging weeks, and voila! Opportunities present themselves. Not easy opportunities of course, ones that would require major change and sacrifice. But what do I always say to myself? "Change does not necessarily assure progress, but progress implacably requires change." (Henry S. Commager) So like Bilbo and Everette (O Brother, Where Art Thou?), I'm busting out, I’m going to take the leap. I may not know how to be a burglar, but I know that there is light (or treasure or something precious) at the end of my tunnel. I don't have all the answers to my own questions, nor do I fully understand the scope of my own character, feelings, motives or desires. But what I do know is that I'm forging a new path for myself, committed to seeing where this new adventure leads.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken, A light from the shadows shall spring; Renewed shall be blade that was broken, The crownless again shall be king.” J.R.R. Tolkien – The Fellowship of The Ring
(P.S. If you did not understand my hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, burglar, or Lord of the Rings references, please do yourself a favor a read more Tolkien.)