Last week I went to San Francisco with my niece attending a book signing and live interview with an author of contemporary essays. At one point in the interview the writer was asked about the major influences in her life. All the way home I began to ask myself the same question: who and what are the significant events and personalities who have directed the trajectory of my life? Have you ever asked yourself that question? What circumstances have caused you to turn, move, accept and evolve? I suspect that love is the greatest of motivators. Nature, ambition, greed, desire, lust, spirituality and hope all contain compelling directional forces.
Once when I was in collage I was captivated by a movie unfolding in the undersea world of scuba diving. So compelling was that story I enrolled in a class, went to Mexico and became certified as a diver. Certainly the planet is full of people who abandon everything familiar and explore parts unknown to climb a mountain, cure the sick and seek the meaning of life. How intriguing to consider at any moment we could read a book, have a conversation, watch a segment on the news and be propelled into another world. Sometimes, I suspect, these revelations are like depth charges that gestate for years and ultimately reveal themselves in moments of transition.
How extraordinary to consider that we are the summation of an infinite array of influences—parents, teachers, spiritual leaders, friends, literature, art, travel, academia, dreams, conversations, home and passion are the individual puzzle pieces of the person we are today. If we are what we eat, then are we not also shaped and styled by the dynamic circumstances and personalities of our lives? I cannot help but wonder, if we made a list of all the major influences on our journey and study that list, would we not finally see who we really are?Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us “Beloved,” Being the “Beloved” is the core truth of our existence. ~Henri J.M. Nouwen We know what we are, but not what we may be. ~William Shakespeare