Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for September 21st, 2019

Who Do You Want to Be? A Meditation

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Normally, at this time of year, I write about my late husband, Michael. He was the most wonderful person I have ever known, and thus I want to keep my memories of him — and his bright, lively, and fun-loving spirit — alive.

But today, I want to talk about a different side of Michael. And, therefore, of me, too.

One of the questions he and I pondered quite often was this: Who do you want to be?

Too many people out there don’t develop their talents, partly because they don’t know they have any. Or they repress their talents, because they need to make money and their talents don’t seem to be useful toward that end. Or, maybe, they’re just frustrated with trying to work with their talents (guilty!), and don’t know what to do with themselves.

The thing is, our talents are only part of us. They’re not everything.

We humans are a complex lot. We have so many different things inside us, and so many different things we can do.

That said, the question “Who do you want to be?” has particular resonance for me for a different reason, too.

There’s a well-known axiom, “Know thyself.” To know yourself should be the first step in figuring out what you want to do, what you need to do, and what you must keep doing to make not only your life-circumstances happy, but your immortal soul happy as well.

(Yes, I went there. Michael believed, too. But it’s OK if you don’t. Moving on…)

But again, knowing yourself can be fraught with peril. People go down paths they shouldn’t be on, all because they convince themselves the ones they need to be on aren’t good enough. Or that they will never be accepted for who they are, so they’d rather “fake it ’til they make it” or worse, pretend to be someone else.

(Yes, I know some of you live by the “fake it ’til you make it” philosophy. If it works for you, and you still know yourself, good. If you don’t, and are on the wrong path, go meditate for a while and figure yourself out. But I digress.)

To me, the most important thing to do every day is to help others. Whether it’s by music, writing, a gentle (or sometimes, not-so-gentle) word, or running an errand, I try to help others as much as I possibly can.

Why? Because I can’t live with myself if I don’t. And because to my mind, if you can help someone but refuse, you aren’t worthy of very much.

“But Barb,” you say. “You can’t help everyone. You know that.”

True. But as Lois McMaster Bujold’s character Mark Vorkosigan says in MIRROR DANCE (my best paraphrase as the book is not in front of me): “Everyone always says they can’t do it all, so they won’t do any. And they don’t.”

In other words, you should try to help others as much as you can.

Because really, what else are we here for? (Surely it’s not to ascend to our own one-person Heavens.)

Back to Michael, though. He believed in helping others as much as he could. He ran errands. He rebuilt other people’s computers. He fed feral cats. He listened and helped as much as he could.

And, oh yes, he reached out to a lonely woman suffering her second divorce and wondering, “Why, God/dess, why?” And the result of that was the richest, deepest, most rewarding, and by far the best relationship I have ever had with anyone in my entire life.

So, just for today, be like Michael. (And, maybe, like me.) Help someone else. Be there, even if they don’t expect it.

You could find a friend. (Or more.)

And if you do, toast Michael in The Good Place (TM), as it’s because of him and his love that I still stand. And still write.

 

Written by Barb Caffrey

September 21, 2019 at 6:00 am