George Bernard Shaw said, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
But, I didn’t create myself. I feel sure of that. I didn’t create myself any more than I created the river. I watched the roiling inky black water slide under my kayak as I kept myself in close proximity to a new girl who was afraid of the water and especially alligators. It was a sunny day and the water’s oily reflection refused to reveal anything below the surface. Her imagination was running wild with every pitch of the kayak. But there were no alligators, and it turned out to be a beautiful day on the river.
I was at girls camp for the week, a chance to leave the cares of the world behind and enjoy God’s creation and the company of others who have similar beliefs. Many of the girls expressed relief at not having to spend hours on makeup and the freedom to relax and just be themselves.
As part of appreciating creation, we were given time to paint the river. The scope of the sky and the river was too much for me. It wouldn’t all fit. I spent a lot of time trying to mix water colors to get the river to even remotely resemble the real thing. Water colors don’t come in a shiny, oily black, black green hue. It was impossible to paint the scene. I left out the houses across the river entirely. I left out the trees. There was a particularly beautiful, grand live oak tree near the bank on our side. It spread out in a proud way and sported a swing that we all took turns on. It could have been the focal point of my painting, but I left it out, too.
When I was finished, I had a river, some grass, and white clouds in relief against a broad, graying sky. None of our pictures looked the same even though we had the same amount of time and were in the very same location. It wasn’t just what we chose to include, but also what we chose to leave out that made all the difference.
You do have to find out about yourself
If my young friend stays afraid of alligators, then living next to a Florida river is probably not her idea of paradise. Sometimes we have to try things out to see. Like the river, there is a part of ourselves that is very deeply hidden, beautiful, and a mystery of creation. We have a nature that was part of our heritage when we were born. Understanding our nature is an ongoing treasure hunt of discovery.
All of God’s gifts of potentiality that exist in our DNA and our subconscious can continue to tease us with their mystery and power no matter how well we know ourselves. Not only that, we can change, sometimes with a pivot point as small as a deep decision. I love that we can surprise ourselves. Yet, It isn’t all discovery
Like the watercolor, we all have the opportunity or potential for more than fits into our life at any given time. We create the life of our dreams by choosing from the menu of reality. What fits? What will I focus on? What really matters right now?
Although I didn’t create myself originally, I do have the gift and responsibility of creating my life now in partnership with God with what He has given me. Living is creating with my on-going choice of not only what I include, but also what I leave out, and how I name or describe myself.
Words and Thoughts Matter
“Own It” is a popular phrase that can be so fun. If we have a certain way that we are that is quirky or unique, rather than beating ourselves up about it, we can “own it.” “This is how I roll,” is another expression of self-acceptance that does not apologize for our own way of being.
Since living life is a matter of creation and naming, we can declare our work “good” or “good enough.” We can use our words to redefine problems as challenges and requests as opportunities.
“Owning it” can also be dangerous, though, if we define ourselves in a way that limits growth or excuses irresponsible behavior. “I am lazy” might masquerade as a fact when it is really a choice and name-calling. Why do we judge ourselves or others so harshly? Is it true, or do we just fear what it looks like? Am I living according to my greatest values, are my own values in conflict, or am I trying to please everyone?
I Create the Story of My Life
How I narrate my own story will create the tone. Is it the story of a heroine who triumphs over all the odds? Is it a tragedy of how my hopes and dreams got dashed one after the other against the cold rocks of reality?
Recently I realized that dead people can’t die. So, dying is part of life. Dead people can’t get sick. So, sickness is part of life. So many things we would leave out of life because we want to disown them from life are keenly, intricately and inseparably connected to and a part of life.
We can’t avoid so many things about the reality before us. The course of our life in many ways is set both above and below the surface of what we can see. But, we can always decide how to tell our story. We define it by what we include, leave out, and how we tell our story.
When your spouse or roommate comes home and asks, “How was your day?” What will you say?
I hope I will say,
There was nothing else I’d rather have been doing.
Serving you has been my pleasure.
I’m living the dream.
DarEll S. Hoskisson
DarEll S. Hoskisson loves to do hard things, but not too hard. She shares her own challenges, goals and experiences as she guides you into a realistic path of self-reflection and self-improvement. She shares tips on how to find, know and trust yourself so you can decide if other’s suggestions are right for you. DarEll has the world a little upside down—where work is play and play is work. She actually thinks other people’s problems are fun to try to solve and lights up with a personal challenge. She loves people, harmony, and excellence. She also loves useful things like tools and ideas that make work faster, easier and more fun. DarEll married in 1993 and graduated from BYU (1995) with a bachelor’s degree in English and Secondary Education. Since then she was adopted by 5 children and has worked with many non-profits. She is currently a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor—leading pilates and yoga at her local YMCA. DarEll lives in Florida where she enjoys her family, nature, her work, and encouraging people to live well. She periodically posts her poems, what she is learning, and service opportunities on her personal blogs: https://personalabridgements.wordpress.com and https://darellhoskisson.wordpress.com