Ernest Hemingway:

As Ernest Hemingway once said...
'All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.'

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

words to live by

Recently heard this in an Amos Lee song:

But sometimes,
We forget what we got,
Who we are.
Oh who we are not.

And sometimes, I hear lyrics that simply kick my ass. I've heard this song quite a few times, but the words didn't resonate until today. Maybe it was just the timing, maybe now they make sense in a way they didn't before.

I mean, lots of times we forget what we got, mostly because we're too distracted with what we don't got. Expensive cars. Big houses. Designer wardrobes. It can be very hard to see the forest for the trees.

I rarely forget who I am, though after my recent job situation, it can get a bit hazy. It's hardest for me to remember that something good is right around the corner. I sometimes tend to wallow in the present, in what's not happening, only to wake up and have my dreams come true. But for me, remembering who I am is the easiest part. This only came, however, after at least thirty years of having no idea. Comfort and content often comes with a price.

But it's the last piece that kicks my ass. Because yes, often times we forget who we are not.

I don't know, maybe it's the fact that I'm critiquing the work of a few lovely, talented ladies, so I've got critiquing on the mind, but lately it seems I'm constantly amazed at the good it's done me in my life to be able to accept criticism. To be able to admit mistakes. To be able to realize I have bitten off more than I can chew at times, pretended I could do it anyway, and failed miserably.

We as a people are taught we can do anything. You want to be an astronaut, princess? Well then go for it! The world is your playground. Don't get me wrong. We all want to teach our children that with hard work and dedication there's a chance you can do anything you want.

But to me, the much more valuable lesson is teaching them that they have limitations. Try things, and if it doesn't work out, then try something else. My daughter wants to take ballet lessons. And let me be clear - she's four. So she didn't ask me. But she loves books about ballet, shows about ballet, so I offered the possibility for her to take classes. So we'll try it. I'm not sure how good she'll be, or that she'll even like it. Or heck, maybe she'll love it. As a parent, it's my job to give her options. But it's also my job to guide her if it isn't working out.

She might want to be a cowboy when she grows up. I can giggle with her about it, talk about what the job might be like, but in reality, I'm going to steer her towards a more realistic occupation.

Because a big part of life is realizing who we aren't. And a big part of that is asking for help when we get to a task that isn't part of who we are. And realizing that there are people out there who are better than you at some things. All too often we let our egos get in the way, let our unrealistic definition of the 'American Dream' cloud our judgement. 

The most important thing in life is realizing when we fall short. And asking for help. And learning everything we can from that help, making us better in the long run. Be humble. Learn from others. Don't get angry when people offer constructive criticism, or suggestions, or help in getting you back on the right path.

If you approach the world with open eyes, open ears, and open hearts, well, then you're doing it right. And it's going to show in your friendships, your work, and everything else.


S.P. Bowers said...

Very good post. I don't have anything to add.

Jo Michaels said...

"If you approach the world with open eyes, open ears, and open hearts, well, then you're doing it right." Never was a truer statement made. I think the old adage: Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil has been taken to a ridiculous extreme. People tend to hear nothing, see nothing, and speak nothing but their own beliefs. They care not that it hurts others and have no desire to see a different POV. I agree that they need to open their ears, eyes, and hearts to others. Well written post today, m'dear. WRITE ON!

Andrea said...

Sometimes I struggle with criticism because I immediately think "that's who I am", and start to feel anxious about how to figure out how to change (or if it is really necessary).