There is a phrase that I stumbled upon that has been bugging me for a few weeks now. I love falling on these kind of obstacles, they always seem to promise lavish rewards. What is the phrase in question?
You do not get what you want, but what you are.
A priori, the sentence is quite simple. If we take another look though, we realize that the second half is much more complex. It anticipates us knowing who WE ARE!
And how many times have we asked that question? Who am I? How many times have we seen this question being answered by the greatest minds too! All with answers that never seem to fill our cup.
I’ve given up on books for the time being. I’m trying to figure it out on my own. Friends, family, experience, environment can all help us in indirect ways, but ultimately the understanding is done on our own…
I began by looking at words that define me. It was more challenging than I expected. Were mostly a process; always changing. Sometimes we are different depending on the context, our area of expertise, our conditioning too. (That’s why I think that figuring out who we are is a much simpler task when we are principle-oriented. We avoid duplicity in different areas of our lives… that can be the subject of another article altogether)
By looking at how I acted though, I eventually started seeing patterns. These patterns can be symbolized by single words.
Once I figured out the words, I went ahead and looked at synonyms, definitions and the etymology of each word. Here is what I came up with :
- reckless — wicked, passing into obscurity, careless
- adaptable — capable of being made to fit by alteration, receptive
- persistent — continue steadfastly, enduring
- contemplative — act of looking at, question, observe
- introspective — action of searching one’s feeling, inside
- inadequate — not equal to what is desired, clumsy, inferior
- proud — bastard, snake
- individualistic — free-thinker, distinct
This has been hard, especially when we deal with attributes of our persona that can show our vulnerability. We can’t go through this exercise by lying to ourselves though. As Thoreau once said :
Above all else, do not lie to yourself.
I’d like to think that the list is quite accurate. I curated the words over a period of weeks, knowing that rushing this would be pointless.
Has this exercise helped me? I don’t know for sure. I know that my wants don’t match my words. I will let this simmer for a while and perhaps watch some comedy. After all, there’s nothing that a good laugh can’t fix. And by all means try it out, you might learn something about yourself.