More than 45 years ago(!), I spent a summer traveling America on a 1969 BMW R-50 touring motorcycle. R-50 stood for 500 cc, which is nothing today, where 1000 cc engine size is the the bare minimum. It was only two cylinders and its opposing air-cooled pistons stuck out like sore thumbs. It would do only 82 mph, 87 if I hunched over. But it was as reliable as the day was long.
That motorcycle took me from the cracker back woods of the Florida peninsula to Stony Brook, Long Island, and as far north as the Great Lakes, and as far west as the Golden Gate Bridge, and even down to the Rio Grande River. It was a grand adventure. I slept on the couches and floors of newly-found friends and camped out in many pristine national parks. I had my backpack strapped to a self-made frame on the back of my bike, and the world was mine to explore.
The fascinating thing is that I can remember more from that summer than I can from any other summer, probably from any other 10 or 20 summers combined. Why? Because every day was new, every day was an adventure, every day was a learning experience. Ever since, I’ve paid attention to what I remember, because what I choose to remember is a great clue to what is important to me, to where my passions lie.
Our destiny, our interests, do not always lie where we think. Too often our true selves are buried beneath “shoulds and ought tos,” obligations that are not truly ours but that we mistakenly shoulder, social norms and customs that are not in alignment with our authentic selves.
At times, we must search our past for clues to our true selves, much as an archaeologist uncovers the ruins of past civilizations by sifting through layers of accumulated debris.
Pay attention to what you remember, to what you look forward to, to what you dream about. These all are clues to your authentic self. Sometimes we don’t so much discover ourselves as we un-cover ourselves.