We have all heard the philosophical maxim, “Know Thyself” attributed to the Greek Temple of Apollo in Delphi.
It sounds pretty cool.
And it is a bloody great idea.
But there is a catch.
“Know Thyself” usually focuses our attention on the attainment of ‘knowledge‘.
Versus ‘Wisdom‘, which comes from knowledge AND experience (plus a healthy serving of consciousness).
It is super awesome to know thyself, but it is even more awesome as to what you do (experience) with that knowledge.
And thus begins our story…
Older and Wiser
Last week, I had my birthday (16 Aug), where I became one year older and wiser.
I am now at the dizzying heights of 54 years young.
And for my 54th birthday present, the neighbours in the next block to ours (who are less aware of social practices around considerate community living), decided to throw a dead pig, puppy and some other unknown dead animal into a shallow irrigation channel, which runs in front of their living area, and flows adjacent to our house.
(Developing countries definitely have their quirks and challenges).
So I was dressed up to head out to one of our favourite restaurants for lunch (La Lucciola – which I highly recommend) with my partner Ferry and we smelt this awful smell, which on inspection, revealed the aforementioned dead animals, stranded in the channel, right beside our house.
First I felt angry at the lack of consideration.
But then I figured that is not going to get the situation dealt with.
And here’s where the ‘KNOW THYSELF’ went off track.
It is not enough to ‘Know Thyself’
Because of the lovely birthday lunch we planned, Ferry encouraged me to leave it for now and deal with it later, and in the mean time she would also try to call someone to deal with it.
I dragged my feet on this, in indecision, but because I was dressed in my best Bali stepping out gear, I decided to go along with the suggestion.
But here’s the thing.
I don’t like putting stuff off until later.
I know I have the tendency to mull things over in my mind, if the loop is not closed (i.e. if the problem is not taken care of).
I know thyself in the sense, that if I don’t deal with something now, or put a confirmed (tangible) plan of action into place, I am going to have this occupying my mind.
Which, sure as sh*t, is not going to lead to a relaxing lunch.
However, because I listened to someone else’s idea about how they deal with stuff (I bought into their story about how they can push something like this out of mind) I ended up leaving the situation in limbo and riding off towards our lunch date.
But, at some point on the journey to the restaurant I came to my senses.
I said, “I know myself”.
I KNOW I won’t be able to relax until this is taken care of and the loop is closed.
As much as I would like to be the person, who could put this situation out of mind, that is not me (right now).
Maybe that is a future Zen version for me to aspire to.
But right now, in this reality, I know myself, and I know I have to deal with this now, and see it done.
So I turned around and went and dealt with the problem.
I will spare you the details.
The Happy Ending and Lesson Learned
Once I got home and dealt with the situation, and then adjusted the lunch plans to go to a restaurant closer to home (sort of like Google maps readjusting the route), I found myself happy and joyful as we headed to a less fancy place for lunch.
I was happy because I dealt with the situation.
I closed the loop.
But I was also deeply content because I honoured the nature of who I am (for now).
I acknowledged I am the person who needs to take care of messy things now, before they get worse, so I can sit back and relax.
Putting important stuff off until later, does not work for me.
I find it hard to switch my brain into neutral if a mini crisis’ needs taking care of.
Yes, I would like to get to the place where I can sit in the eye of the storm, in perfect serenity, but for now, knowing myself, I need to honour what works best for me.
The main lesson is this…
Step 1: Know Thyself.
Step 2: Act in accordance of the self you know – in the now – as opposed to the self you wish you will become in a future time.
Step 3: Keep working to become the future more evolved version of self, but meet life where you are at now.
My Parting words
I have been fully immersed into getting to know myself (deeply) for 25 years now.
With an intention to becoming the most evolved version of myself.
But it is a process.
And part of the process is being here in the now.
Not wishing you are different.
But working from where you are now, and step by step, moving towards the more enlightened version of you.
Sound like a plan you can handle?
And finally, the aim is to get better at catching ourselves out, more quickly, when we go off course.
Not to beat ourselves up for going off course.
But to celebrate how quickly we became aware and then got back on track.
All part of this ‘game of life’.
So, have a self-aware kinda day, and week of great choices based on that knowing.
See you next week.