Tuesday, August 16, 2016

On Humility and Not Knowing Yourself

Gretchen Rubin noted the Voltaire quote, "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good," as a kind of mantra she returned to throughout her happiness project. For those of us with high standards and fair ability to meet those standards, this is resonant. I'm taking it to heart this morning. It's going to be a short one.

Paulo Coelho, late-blooming writer and a kind of mystic to many readers of his book The Alchemist, recently told Krista Tippett that he doesn't know who he is. Keep in mind this guy is pushing 70, a writer with a simple elegance that gives him the aura of a guru.

"To be totally honest, I don't know who I am," he said, "and I don't think people ever will know who they are. We have to be humble enough to learn to live with this mysterious question: who am I? So I am a mystery to myself." Find more and listen at Paulo Coelho - The Alchemy of Pilgrimage.

The idea that we could be humble and recognize that we cannot fully know ourselves has a unique resonance for LGBTQ people, who are so often asked to put ourselves in a box so that the mainstream might understand us better. So that we may be less threatening in our otherness.

For all of our differences, I credit my parents with instilling in me a keen sense of justice and a deep trust in my own mind and heart. And although I used the word "gay" for this blog, I've wrestled with all of the language thrust upon (and yes, often owned and embraced) by LGBTQ people. It's part of the reason it's taken me so long to begin writing about my own otherness.

Although it's early in my own pilgrimage of this blog, I'll pose my first question to you, reader. How do these words: lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer work for you? How have they contributed to or detracted from your own joy in being a person traveling through the world?

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