Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Free to Be Me

I like what Quentin Crisp said about social mobility: "Keeping up with the Joneses was a full-time job with my mother and father. It was not until many years later when I lived alone that I realized how much cheaper it was to drag the Joneses down to my level."

And speaking of social mobility…two women happened to be seated next to each other on a plane and struck up an earnest conversation about their respective hometowns.

“Where I’m from,” one woman sniveled, “we place all our emphasis on breeding.”

Her new companion, unimpressed and uninterested in this yardstick for measuring the value of a person, just smiled. “We think that’s a lot of fun, too – but we do find time for other pursuits.”

Some people try to impress. They want to elevate themselves by conspicuous breeding, social standing, education and life-style. They believe that to be “well-bred, well-fed, well-read and well-wed” just may help them find some happiness (and a satisfying bit of deference from others).

These symbols have little meaning for other individuals. They care little about how people see them. The only standards which concern them are those they set themselves. The person they really want to please and impress most is the one looking back from the mirror.

I believe that, more than anyone else, these people know what it is to be free. Why? Because they’re free from what others think about them. They are free from feeling like they always have to please other people. They are not programmed to behave a certain way because others expect it.

One man I know likes to say, “Be yourself.  Everybody else is already taken.” But I think that author and educator Leo Buscaglia may have said it best. “The easiest thing to be in the world is you,” he said. “The most difficult thing to be is what other people want you to be. Don't let them put you in that position.” And that’s advice worth following.

Who decides what you will do? Who decides who you will be? Who decides what is important to you? Who sets your standards? Ultimately, who do you REALLY want to impress? Somebody else … or yourself?

The point is this: you can’t please everybody, nor should you try. So why not be sure you at least try to please the right person? That’s REAL freedom.

-- Steve Goodier

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