How delicious. To be someone else. To reinvent oneself. I’m not talking about who you are at your core, but about characteristics that might not be serving you anymore.
I’ve done it several times over, and not only with names. As long ago as my early twenties, I began referring to myself and introducing myself to others by another name. Eventually, it led me to legally change it. Psychologically, that was one of the best decisions I ever made for my health. I maintain that the name-change wasn’t running AWAY from something, but running TO. Seeking identity. I wanted to feel like my name was an accurate representation of myself. Like those comfortable clothes or shoes you wear that bring a sense of well-being and satisfaction.
I think everyone should consider changing their birth name, if they don’t like it. When you think about it, we don’t get any say in the matter. Our parents name us when we’re born, and I don’t think any other person, not even one who brings us into this world, has the ultimate right to tell us who we are, to include what we are named. A name is too intensely personal for that.
This reinvention extends to the other areas of your life. If something isn’t serving you in a beneficial way, then why not change it? Nowhere is it written, in stone or otherwise, that your life is static and cannot be altered.
Thus, my wife and I are about to embark upon a journey. We know our destination, and while hoping it will be a lovely adventure, we also know it will be full of change and challenge. We are still rather in the harbor, deciding what to put on the boat, and indeed, still finalizing the ownership of that boat– but this voyage is very much about identity. Who we are and what we want our lives to be.
In my estimation, an authentic life must reflect that core identity, and only when we ignore the true self-expression, do we overcomplicate matters and invite a sort of imbalance with the natural order of things. This leads to all manner of adjustments, for which there are myriad examples. A few might be:
In general terms, water seeks its own level. Refer to Pascal’s Principle, for the scientific explanation, but basically, it means that when you pour a glass of water, it doesn’t just fill up on one side. It fills the whole glass uniformly. Metaphorically, what we do in our immediate space affects everything around us, and also often has effects far beyond our awareness or comprehension. Personally, this level-seeking water has reached a saturation point, and my wife and I feel compelled and completely convinced that we are pointed in the right direction.
Globally, we can also see the effects of this imbalance when Mother Earth strikes back with disasters after we have abused her, seeking to swat away the life forms that vex her. Again, another scientific principle: Newton’s Third Law: every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Metaphorically, what we push, will push back, and it seems ever so much easier to stop doing so much pushing, and start going with the flow, as it were. To reference the Mother Earth analogy, this would mean living in harmony with the earth, instead of violating it. Personally, this is reflected in the ultimate goal my wife and I have set to reject the consumptive, wasteful, consumerist rat-race, in favor of homesteading; living more self-sufficient, organic, natural lives, and being more aligned with and in tune with nature.
And more universally, this imbalance can be illustrated in the evolutionary tenets of natural selection. It will always insure survival of–not the strongest–but the most resilient, industrious, adaptable. Metaphorically, when we learn to adapt to the changes around us, we stand a much better chance of survival. Personally, if I don’t embrace a certain type of lifestyle soon, it will have some ugly repercussions all the way around.
As a writer, the concept of revision takes on a deeper meaning in this context.
RE-VISION. As in, look at it again.
One of my most valuable lessons has served me well repeatedly. Just as I might write a novel, I would reach the end of the first draft, and inevitably, things at the beginning would have to change, because as the story evolved, the original ideas usually no longer fit the story. Likewise, I learned long ago that the decisions I make in my life should always be based upon the most recent data.
We must be willing to look at our decisions again. How often have we heard others say,
I hate where I live.
I hate my job.
I hate my marriage
I hate my life?
Leaving the importance of happiness aside for a moment, the first question to ask yourself, is Are the conditions still present that led to this decision? If the reasons for a decision are no longer present, then the decision itself warrants reconsideration.
For example, on a personal level, where I live; I made a set of decisions about where I wanted to go, based on a set of circumstances at the time. I had been in a highly stressful situation for almost three years, inundated with the unfamiliar, feeling helpless and trapped and invisible and lonely. When I left that situation and landed in the place I live now, it seemed idyllic, and indeed, served its purpose.
Until it didn’t.
That situation evolved into something different. Then the place of refuge and healing and relief, suddenly became another place of discomfort. So I had to look at those decisions again, apply the new data, and make new decisions accordingly. I had to ask myself the same set of questions again, to include what do I want and need right now? What’s missing? What is my idea of a perfect life? What makes me happy?
Critics and naysayers might say that changing locations, jobs, partners, and whatnot, is a sign of instability. Somehow changing things makes you undependable. Wishy-washy. Even unstable, yourself. Certainly, there are those who can’t commit, can’t be relied upon. There are those who lack the discernment and self-awareness to make good decisions; those who flail about, seeking answers in change, when the answers are to be found within. That’s not what I’m suggesting we be.
I’m suggesting–or rather emphatically stating–that you must rearrange the furniture in your life until it pleases you, and when it no longer does, you must rearrange it again.
There are no trophies for martyrdom. Your life is your own, and no one else can live it for you. Happiness and contentment and joy are things we should aspire to, even if it means trying and failing to achieve it, repeatedly. If we are self-actualized; if we seek to know ourselves well enough,
we will understand what we need in order to have the life we want, and perhaps avoid needless iterations of the wrong thing. We will then make decisions based on changing circumstances and desires, in the natural ebb and flow of our lives, and not on a blind quest for what it is we might want, maybe, if we knew what that was.
So remember, life is supposed to be a banquet. You won’t always like every dish on the table, but you do have the right to choose. Eat up. Even if your place card has a different name on it.