Self And Other: Measure Of Your Moments

Adapted from
The Work Of Being Your Self

Among the greatest paradoxes are those deep truths that are both true and their opposites are also true. It is true that our lives are determined by outside forces while also true that we determine our lives. And nowhere is this more apparent than in relationship to others. The fourth dynamic dilemma results from two fundamental human drives. We have a deep need to belong and a deep desire to be true to ourselves.

The need for social belonging often translates into the pejorative label of “selfish” for any choice based on one’s own desires. Strangely, research does demonstrate that a greater degree of happiness generally results when we act for others over acting for oneself. But a life totally devoted to the desires and needs of others also has its costs.  Australian Nurse, Bronnie Ware, has documented the five main regrets of the dying. Top on the list is not living one’s own life but living a life according to the dictates of others and the world. We cannot deny a deep drive to be authentic, to be true to ourselves.

I am astounded that we live in a world where so many grow up stripped of their dignity and feel they are not good enough. I am not referring to self-esteem, which to me is a surface response intended to serve as feedback about our behavior in the world. How we feel about ourselves should change as we act in the world, bringing guilt when we violate our values and pride when we live accordingly. It also should be affected by the view of others because we are social creatures. We need to have this self-other conflict to navigate our own lives and live among people.

For the conflict to serve us, we need our dignity as well as our belonging in the world. Dignity is something much deeper than the fleeting surface feelings we may have about ourselves in life. Measure Of Your Moments is a declarative poem claiming the dignity of our lives is measured by the reach of our heart and how much of our heart we give to our dreams.

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Measure of Your Moments

I refuse to let my life
be cradled in clock hands
or reduced to moments
measured by output
toward someone else's dream.

We each may be destined
to be a cog in a greater wheel,
but I will know my spirit.
I will claim my soul.
I will turn in my own time
and at my own pace.

I will not live
as servant or savior. 
Even when I hold
my hand out
to lift you up,
I turn my eyes to heaven
because I know
I am not the source
of your light. 

I have learned
that when you chase a mirage
you will live your life
as if you are lost
in the desert.
I have learned
that when you lend your voice
to the multitude
you will never sing

the unsung song of your soul.

You must set your voice free.
You must stand for yourself.
You must find a foothold
on the path of your own dreams.

So, let this day
be your trumpet call.
Let these words
be your summons
to take back your time,
to cradle your life
in your own hands,

and to measure your moments
not by how well you meet
the demands of the world
but by how far you extend
the reach of your heart
and how much of your heart

you give to your dreams.


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Questions To Ponder:

What are your non-negotiables in life? What are you totally committed to doing or not doing, having or not having, being or not being in your life?

What issues and challenges have you adopted, or what beliefs and ideas have you advocated, that really belong to others and may not necessarily belong to you?

When did you take a stand for yourself in life? What did you learn from it?

Please share your comments below!

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