“What one doesn’t realize in ordinary mental health is that daily life is a show. You have to put on a right costume, to improvise right speeches, to do right actions, and all this isn’t automatic, it takes concentration and work and a simply amazing degree of control.” ~ Herman Wouk, Youngblood Hawke …
Every day of our life is a show–a balancing act that is no easy task. Each day we are required to accomplish a lot of important, skillful, and necessary things such as performing our jobs, saying the right things at the right times, fulfilling our duties and obligations, functioning appropriately and at our best so that the lives of others can continue on smoothly, responding emotionally to those in need, and so much more. Many of my interactions with the world around me are learned, consistent, and structured–which is not a bad thing at all. This makes it much simpler for me to fulfill my obligations and to do the right and necessary things based on the expectations of those in my life.
Our ability to dress the parts of our lives–to exhibit the faculty, control, concentration, and aptitude to star in our daily show–is no easy accomplishment. But is starring in our daily show a necessary duty for each of us? Do we lose some of our own authenticity, and a certain level of control over our lives, in doing so? And if so, how does that fit into our sense of purpose, meaning, and fulfillment in life?
Living our lives on our own terms can be a good thing, but I also believe that contributing towards the daily show of life is a much more important thing for each of us–at least our ability to do so to a certain degree; after all, people we love are counting on us. As a parent, for example, my ability to play the necessary roles for my children–guardian, mentor, teacher, provider, and so forth–truly is vital to their health, well-being, and personal growth and development. And as an employer, my workers–and the companies–are dependent upon my ability to play the necessary roles in my leadership.
Conformity is not always a negative thing, especially in the context of taking care of our responsibilities and doing things that are expected of us. And when we perform well at such tasks, we really deserve the praise and credit that comes along with it.
Play the necessary roles required of you to the best of your abilities.
Questions to consider:
Do you ever look at conformity in a negative way? If so, when?
What are some of the roles in your life? How well do you play these roles?
Which roles are the most enjoyable ones to play? Which roles are required by others? Why?
For further thought:
“At present we want the moral courage to plant only what we need; to spend only what will bring us peace, regardless of what is going on over the fence. We are half ruined by conformity; but we should be wholly ruined without it: and I presume I shall make a garden next year that will be as popular as possible.” ~ Charles Dudley Warner, My Summer in a Garden