Over my years on Planet Earth, one thing has become distinctly transparent: The world ain’t all about me. Get over it. I get over myself.
Shakespeare wrote, “To thine own self be true.” Yep.
Love thine own self, too. I’ve discovered: I have to love and forgive myself. In surrendering to do so, I create the possibility of making a difference for others. I can create the possibility of making a profound difference in the world. We all can.
In Greek mythology, hunter Narcissus, the son of the River God Cephissus and the wood nymph Liriope, was distinguished for his great beauty. Consequently, many fell in love with him. Yet, Narcissus only showed them contempt and disdain. I’m guessing because he could.
One day while hunting in the woods, nymph Echo saw Narcissus and immediately fell in love with him. When Echo tried to hug Narcissus, he pushed her off, and told her to ‘get lost’. In her great despair, Echo roamed around the woods until she wilted away, and all that remained was her echo.
Discovering what had all transpired, Nemesis, Goddess of Retribution and Revenge, decided to punish Narcissus for his callousness. She led Narcissus to a water pool, where he gazed upon his reflection in the water’s surface. He fell in love with his reflection. Not realizing that it was only a reflection, he too fell into great despair, because he could never have that love. Thus, he took his own life.
Narcissus lands as the cautionary tale of being too full of oneself. Well, kind of.
I say, “Love thine own self.” That’s not narcissism, the “excess interest in oneself” making it difficult to acknowledge or have compassion for others.
Love thine own self in the way you can love and forgive yourself for your imperfection, for what you are not. My dear friend Cheryl reminds that kindness begets kindness. So be kind to others, and really be kind to yourself, too.
In the words of Aikido Founder O-Sensei, “True victory is victory over oneself.” My greatest opponent, my greatest hater is almost always, me. Just saying.
Given my childhood fear, my experience growing up at home, learning to love and forgive me took a tremendous amount of work. I had to grind it out. I had to resolve my past. I had to give up being right about the past, too. Like Mizukami Sensei would say, “Just train.” Just train, because it’s something meaningful and purposeful to me.
Along the way, I got that when I really let go, accepting my strengths and imperfections, I’m free to be me. Sure, true victory over myself is constant training that never ends, part of that evolves in Aikido, in writing, or in meditation. Yet, at a certain point, I discover a measure of peace. The world is really not all about me. I get to breathe.
I’ve found that my authentic self-expression is making a difference for others, be it profound or small. “It’s about them.” What’s possible opens up, when I can truly love and accept who I am, now. No shit. Love thine own self, and access what’s possible.
I spent years studying in school, college, and grad school, yet no one bothered to say, “Hey Jon, you gotta love yourself.” “It might be a good idea to be kind to yourself, too.” That might have been useful. You think?
I had forsaken being a parent, fearing that I might become what I feared most. Although, if I could go back, and have children, I’d tell them, “Love who you are. Be kind to yourself. You are more than enough.” Practice love and kindness to yourself. Just train.
In creating yourself as your work of Art, there can be many distinctions: giving permission to yourself to be great, unconditionally granting others respect, and reinventing or remapping a life in the changing world. Perhaps, that all begins with loving who we are, and forgiving ourselves for what we’re not. Again, just saying. Amen.
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