A Sister Song
I would never presume to be in a position to give others life advice. But I see younger and older ladies everywhere I travel far and wide, privately in my own mind they are sisters, perhaps struggling with life’s vagaries. I care. Perhaps, for whatever they may worth, I can share some light bulb moments I myself had along the way.
First and foremost: “Don’t go gently into that good night.” Who do you want to be? What is the version of you that would make you most happy? Envision the perfect you. You are all that and more already, in the making. You are not a function of your parentage or the society or class or culture or choices you were born into any more or less than you want and select to be. You can be anyone you want to be in life with hard work, good character, continuous learning, a bit of luck and my own essential toolkit, a lot of faith. Who is the person that you would be most proud to be? You are all that and more already, or at least quickly getting there if you start right now.
Secondly, please be you. You may read adjectives that describe best employee traits for your chosen profession and perhaps you will try to be all these things at once at the surface even when you still don’t understand the essence of what is required. You may think you know what traits certain social groups want and try to adopt them all even if it feels uncomfortable. You may find icons and try to emulate them without understanding what really makes them tick. External stimuli may make you feel inadequate or insufficient and you may defensively react in ways that betray your true core. You may hear hurtful, nonconstructive criticism given by people in no position to criticize and feel diminished then drop fragments of your self in pain. Don’t hate yourself. Find your core and build around it all the layers of goodness that serve and strengthen you. You don’t owe anyone a tinsel surface that matches theirs. You don’t owe anyone apologies for being different. You do owe yourself a life true to your core values, hopes and dreams.
Following dreams of course is easier said than done if one doesn’t yet know the color of the butterfly they would love to chase nor what they hope to find at the end of the rainbow. That’s OK. I have a surprise for you. The answer is probably within. We all know there is no pot of gold at the end of a rainbow and nothing at the end of anything that will bring you total satisfaction until you realize happiness, joy, contentment, come from a place entirely within. A place called gratitude. You can spend a lifetime chasing dream targets successfully and never feel fulfilled or have a quiet, calm, uneventful, unostentatious life and feel total fulfillment. The answer is a wellspring in our core called gratitude. Tap into it at every opportunity. If you lose it, you lose everything. Climb every mountain by all means if you care to at all. But please have the heart, mind, vision and wonder to see the immense miracle and gift that is your every accomplishment, the magnitude of every single blessing and the glory of the universe when you do. And feel deep humble gratitude.
Don’t be afraid to live a beautiful life. Whatever your very own personal definition of beauty is. How beautiful this world would be if we all lived beautiful lives. Aesthetically in your own definition and also in how we approach each choice, decision and problem in life, how we interact with each other and how we treat the world around us. Forgive people. Bury grievances. Be kind. Be grateful. Think beautiful thoughts. Wear your favorite clothes and feel great unabashedly. Treat yourself to hair, nails and makeup unapologetically if that’s what makes you happy. Make your home comfortable and your idea of lovely. Drink tea from your favorite tea set and stop saving your favorite scents and candles. Take out your best recipes and linens. Watch sunrises, sunsets and pause to smell the flowers. Listen to music that inspires, relaxes or uplifts you. Revisit art, architecture, walks, parks, benches and beaches you love. Pray. Exercise. Stay healthy. Respect the environment around you in every possible way. Live every moment as beautifully as you possibly can.
Don’t be afraid of second acts either. And third. And fourth. Whatever it takes to find your fulfillment at all stages in life, pursue it even as your hopes, dreams and circumstances evolve. Every moment is a gift. Don’t allow others to pigeonhole you or clip your wings. As long as you are alive you owe yourself, God and everyone you love to be the best person you can possibly be. Your range can be higher than the highest mountain and deeper than the deepest ocean. It is lovelier and richer than you can imagine. To untap your potential keep learning and growing. Learn from successes and failures but make sure you really do keep learning. And stay humble. We are all that and more as humans potentially but we are also only extremely human and as such fallible, fragile and simultaneously potentially challenged in so many ways, including by our conditioning, environment, health, circumstances and character. Polish your character, cultivate it and let it lead the way. Keep your intentions lovely always. How good this world would be if we only allow ourselves the best, kindest and noblest of intentions always.
Find other sisters on the road. And brothers. Life is even more precious when your own joy, love, success, touches another. Reach out and help them. Mentor and guide them. Let them see the jewel they are. In everyone is an unpolished diamond. Sadly not everyone realizes it. Let them see the brilliance inside. If you do nothing else, treat everyone in a manner that recognizes and conveys we each hold a perfect gem within, albeit so often invisible to the human eye. This world and our lives are not a zero sum game. We are so much more than the sum of our parts when we recognize that across faiths, cultures, geographies, age divides, we are siblings not adversaries, friends not foes and neighbors sharing common resources. Even when that resource is a common view across the horizon, landscape or dream.
Remember you are beautiful. Inside and out. God loves you enough to give you all the treasure and good you have in your life. Let that precious wealth and love be your wellspring of strength. As long as you are in touch with that beauty and the gratitude it deserves you will see it reflected in all around you. The world is but a reflection of our collective attitudes and outlooks. Realizing all the aspects of your beauty, working on it, nurturing and protecting it, is a giant leap in making this world a better place.
Finally some things to think about. Supreme bliss can just as likely come in the shape of a cute little home as a mansion; a simple job as a groundbreaking career; a bus ride as a limousine; the bare minimum as a mountain of treasures. Sometimes I think ego and greed are the downfalls of so many of us. Reach for the stars but realize the brightest stars are sometimes just a blink, step or smile away. Be grateful, humble and kind always. No matter what. I promise your glass is never half empty; its always full.