As I exited a cinema last night, I over-heard someone describe the film we had seen as ‘self-indulgent.’ This phrase doesn’t sit well with me, though I’m not sure exactly why. Maybe I’m too self-indulgent to see it…
The film was The Descendants, starring George Clooney. I liked it. Good story, great location (Hawaii), strong acting by the lead characters, particularly the two young girls that play his daughters, and an irreverent, off-beat script. It was long, and there were some weak spots, but overall I thought it was pretty brave.
But self-indulgent? More like a story about love, humanity, f%^#ing up and forgiveness. Or so I thought.
It reminds me of a description of one of my favourite books, the best-selling Eat, Pray, Love, in which someone labelled it with the self-indulgent tag too.
A woman overcoming her feelings of discontent by breaking out of a stagnant marriage to find herself through travel and adventure?
Self indulgent, indeed. How dare she set off on a solo voyage towards her true self, her authentic life! Shame on her for not sucking it up, and settling on a mediocre existence for the sake of keeping other people happy!
I think it’s a shame that we judge those who dare to take that journey towards their true calling, whatever it may be, who dare to follow their bliss and find happiness outside the realm of western society where we are judged by what we do for a living, rather than who we truly are.
I say bravo to those who dare to dream, dare to front up to themselves in the mirror, stare themselves in the eye and say, I don’t want to live like this anymore.
Yes, it’s threatening to those who don’t want a mirror held up to themselves, who want to bury themselves in work, in making more money, in booze. I tried all that.
But I didn’t like who I saw in the mirror.
I just didn’t know what to do about it.
It hasn’t been an easy or a simple process to discover who I am, or what my true path in life is, but I’m willing to be led towards it.
And perhaps being willing is enough.
But first I had to be honest, and I now believe my life depends on that. That if I truly want a life that reflects my spirit, I have to get to know who that is.
And to do that, I have to discard the things that don’t reflect my true self, chipping away the pieces that aren’t me.
I truly believe that in order to live truthfully, and be most me I can be, I have to keep the focus on myself. It’s so easy to judge, easy to tell other people what they should do, but harder to look at myself, warts and all, admitting my faults and my mistakes along with my qualities and accomplishments.
But I know that in giving myself the gift of self-appraisal, I can reach the core of who I am, and take her in hand like a best friend.
If I am kind to myself, and forgiving of my short comings, then I can have moments of losing myself in service to others, because I’ll know it’s coming from a place that’s real.
But if I continue on the path of people-pleasing for fear that I won’t fit in, or that I will fail and be humiliated, I won’t be of much good to the people around me, because I won’t be rising to the great challenge of being the best me I can be.
Maybe, but I’m okay with that.