If you’re not at least attempting to please yourself, whom do you intend to please? You probably won’t be very good at pretending to accomplish another person’s will for you. You will do better dropping the pretense and simply intending to please yourself.
If you’re trying to be what other people want you to be, then who will be you?
People who are truly themselves ring true and are often a delight to watch and be around. Jimmy Cagney was an actor as well as a real character. Even when pretending to be somebody else he was enjoying himself. We only know of his acting in movies where he pretended to inhabit character parts written and directed by others, but he brought so much of himself along for the ride that he retained ownership of the performance. In doing so, he inspired and pleased others. From all accounts, he lived a long and happy life.
Is it possible to drop the facade and find your true self later in life? Miguel de Cervantes, the Spanish Shakespeare, found himself chained to a wall in debtors prison in Madrid when he came up with the idea for Don Quixote. He became a successful writer in his sixties, and the Man of La Mancha made a lot of people a lot of money. Unfortunately, since copyright was a novel concept at the time, he didn’t become super rich, but at least he was comfortable by the time he died at the age of sixty-eight.
So late bloomers can take hope. Some people seem to have little choice in the matter. Elvis was such a weird creature that he had no hope of being anyone other than Elvis. He had no way to hedge his bet. His choice was either to be the King of Rock and Roll or be a garage mechanic.
How can you know when you’re being your true self and doing what you’re uniquely equipped to do? You enjoy it. It’s not drudgery. Anything else is a sell-out, for you and the world in general. No matter how much of a chameleon you think you are, you’ll be far more effective as yourself. You’ll have more fun and the people around you will enjoy your presence and activity.
here’s an audio clip of me reading this essay 2:40 http://chirb.it/cqvAAM
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Reblogged this on geezersabroad.