Experienced wisdom on life and masculinity from a century-old comedian actor.
As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know this is Authenticity.
As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody if I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me. Today I call it Respect.
As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow. Today I call it Maturity.
As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment. So I could be calm. Today I call it Self-Confidence.
As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm. Today I call it Simplicity.
As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health—food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it is Love of Oneself.
As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is Modesty.
As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worrying about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where everything is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it Fulfillment.
As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this connection Wisdom of the Heart.
— Charlie Chaplin
The above passage is a quote from Charlie Chaplin, the silent-movie comedian actor and director, towards the end of his life. He was no stranger to suffering; turns out he wasn’t all about laughs as his world-famous “The Little Tramp” persona portrayed.
The mysterious greatness about life truths is that if it was true back then, it is true today. I first learned of this phenomenon in my history studies. Regardless, I’m still surprised by its occurrence in my experiences. We may all be individuals uniquely shaped by our surrounding culture and times, but we are all human beings as well.
It is our common humanity that transcends time and culture where many of these life truths—like the ones from Chaplin above—are found. However, as I have learned in my own experiences, you can easily miss these life truths if you don’t keep an open mind and heart to these truths wherever they may be.
Charlie Chaplin’s brief memoire above is a good example of this. He didn’t have the internet, Starbucks around every corner, fast food joints, or smartphones during his lifetime. How could anything he said be of relevance to us in the 21st century without experiencing those same things? Nevertheless, he did struggle with finding his place in society, balancing life and work, overcoming a difficult childhood, being true to his values and passions, and other aspects of life we all struggle with even today.
It is with an open mind and heart that a person can see the deeper truth and how it applies to him or her regardless of who said what when. Perhaps that is why Chaplain was able to say what he did above towards the end of his life.
So what is the life truth Chaplain was trying to express here? That’s ultimately up to you, reader; I take comfort in seeing that someone else arrived at truth, wisdom, emotional maturity, and a sense of fulfillment by loving himself as I strive to do with myself. Our lives may be extremely different, but it seems we shared a common desire to change our lives by trying to love ourselves as we are now and who we hope to be in the future.
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