The Voice Within

The idea that a new year represents rebirth, renewal and change is on its face silly.  Every day is a new day, the year is just a human construct, making days numbers and delineating them in an arbitrary fashion.  The idea that this is a time for resolutions and transformation is irrational – it’s just a new day, like every day.

Yet perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss that ideal of a new beginning.   Yes, every day is potentially a chance for rebirth and renewal, but usually we squander those opportunities, living hypnotized, following the same routines.  Instead of asking what would make life truly joyful, we check off our “to do” lists and take care of the mundane tasks at hand.

And that’s OK – life is a series of moments and we need to shop, cook, clean, work, and take of things that just need to be done.   Yet we can do those things thinking the mundane is life – that life is about making money, paying bills, achieving success and consuming products.  Or we can work through the mundane with a higher ideal in mind – happiness, love of both nature and others, and a sense of magic.  The world unfolds for us, we just have to trust it.

So my resolution for 2013 is simply to live awake.

To try every day to look out the window and see nature as magical and beautiful.  Not to get used to it or take it for granted. To feel blessed to live in foothills of western Maine, a place of pure beauty.   To be sure, the wide open plains of South Dakota, where I was last month visiting family, has its own magic and beauty as well.   Wherever one is, one key to living awake is not to take nature for granted.

To be true to myself.   We humans are our own worst enemies, we repress who we are, we say what we think others want to hear, we distrust our ability to simultaneously be true and be accepted.   We conform.   We decide that our dreams are silly or unobtainable.   We settle for a life less than we could have.

It’s not that we humans are stupid.   We settle because it’s comfortable.   It’s easy to conform, to go with what others want, to push aside youthful ambitions and dreams of happiness.   We replace those with stuff – or perhaps with societal approval of us as successful.   Prestige replaces joy.   To be normal is safe, to conform is to be comfortable.

And then we slowly stagnate.

Please read this “comic”.   It is a powerful comparison of two good women who choose different paths.    One was true to herself, one conformed.   The price of conformity isn’t always so high – and there is nothing wrong with being like others if one is at the same time true to oneself.

But too often we drown our inner voice and make choices out of fear of not fitting in or somehow missing out.  We fear lacking income, making others mad, or ending up alone.    Fear can’t guide life, to be truly happy one must be true to oneself.    We need to trust our conscience and inner voice, even when it goes against what most people seem to be thinking and doing.    And that is my resolution for 2013.   To live awake, to listen to the voice within, to live true to myself.

 

 

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  1. #1 by lbwoodgate on January 12, 2013 - 14:32

    What a powerful story “The Line” tells

  2. #2 by Elizabeth on January 13, 2013 - 10:44

    Scott, I read the entire cartoon – powerful to say the least. I love your statement: “And that’s OK – life is a series of moments and we need to shop, cook, clean, work, and take of things that just need to be done. Yet we can do those things thinking the mundane is life – that life is about making money, paying bills, achieving success and consuming products. Or we can work through the mundane with a higher ideal in mind – happiness, love of both nature and others, and a sense of magic. The world unfolds for us, we just have to trust it.”

    As I go through life I often have to think – am I being true to myself or to what others want? Usually when I follow my gut I am right (actually, always!).

    But sometimes it’s hard when you simply want more money.

    Great post.
    Also, in my last post about historical dissertations I mentioned you (asked you a question) about formatting. I’d love your thoughts. I haven’t read many historical dissertations and am looking for some sample chapter outlines.
    http://dissertationgal.com/2013/01/12/historical-dissertations-and-a-little-advice-for-my-friends/

    • #3 by Scott Erb on January 13, 2013 - 15:28

      Yes – there are two movies out there that deal with the perspective of Traudl Junge and Sophie Scholl. “Downfall” is a superb look at Hitler’s last days, and Traudl is the “hero” – its the story of the last days through her eyes. “Sophie Scholl: The Final Days” is a powerful story about Sophie after her arrest – built to be historically accurate based on interviews, transcripts from her interrogation only released after the Cold War ended (East Germany had them). In a first year seminar once I showed them both and had students think about what they would have done. Most admit they’d probably have taken Traudl’s path rather than Sophie’s – it’s hard to go against what society is defining as normal, good, patriotic, etc.

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