When I was growing up, words like self-realization and self-actualization were in common usage; lots of people felt enlightenment was just around the corner, and so was the new consciousness that would lead to world peace.

Lofty words, lofty ideals and yet — here we still are. And as for me, despite years of yoga, meditation, counseling, journalling, and many other tools of self-discovery, enlightenment somehow continues to elude me! I still struggle to raise my teenager without turning blue in the face, I still gripe at other drivers on the road. And yes, I often still find myself, and those around me, a conundrum.

So these days I don’t aim so high. Far from self-realization, self-actualization, or self-mastery, I just try to aim for … self-understandable. Why did I do that thing that I wish I hadn’t done? If I understand why, that’s a point. If I think I know how not to do it again, that’s another point. But, I also know that I probably will do it, or something like it, again. That’s understandable…

I call it a good day if I get through it feeling pretty good about my interactions with others. I know I’m not responsible for their interactions with me, and that on my end of things, there’s always room for improvement — that’s understandable. But if I get to the pool, and find time to pray, and take a few deep breaths before responding to my son’s eye rol, that’s not a bad day. And at the end of the day, if I take some time for self-reflection, remember to forgive myself, and get the rest I need, that’s not bad either.

And somewhere in there, in those moments when I can be self-understandable, sometimes there comes a moment of grace in knowing that there is One who understands all of my inmost heart, and loves me anyway …


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The mind of the day draws no attention to it;
It dwells within the silence with elegance
To create a space for all our words
Drawing us to listen inward and outward

John O'Donohue, from The Inner History of a Day