On celebrating our differences
I recently celebrated a birthday, which always gives me pause for reflection on who I am and how I show up in the world. For much of my life, I felt different. Like I didn’t belong and was wrong somehow. I was always consciously molding myself to whatever way of being seemed to help me fit in. This led to a lot of second guessing my decisions and to avoiding doing what I really wanted with my time and energy.
I spent some of my birthday in nature, which always feeds my soul. The particular hiking spot in the Niagara escarpment I visited featured some spectacular views, including some rocky ledges. Trees grew astonishingly tall and sturdy from between and around rock faces with little soil or obvious earth to nurture them. I marvelled at their beauty and the way their knobby, rough roots gripped and gleamed in the light. They shone from the exposure, the rub of rock and wind and rain.
The author Alan Watts has this saying about how we don’t look up to the night sky and see right or wrong stars or poorly arranged constellations. Likewise, on my hike I didn’t look at the strange paths the tree roots had taken to break through the earth or wrap themselves around a chunk of granite to stabilize themselves and think, wow, that pine’s chosen a creative, albeit risky, method for survival and growth. No! I look at it and think it’s beautiful and wondrous and strong. That pine tree has such dignity and power.
And each of us has that force inside of us. We face challenges, we come upon obstacles and setbacks, and we find our own path, however meandering and “unconventional” it may be deemed by onlookers (we’ll call them the Sith). What beauty in this forest of difference, in our uniqueness. As another more contemporary philosopher – musician Dave Grohl – says, “no one is you, and that is your power.” I finally celebrate my differences. So, on this May 4th, may you recognize the force within. May you have the trust in yourself to do what you know is best for nurturing your superpowers. And may you continue to shine your beautifully arranged constellation on our universe in the way that only you can. I’m so glad you’re here.