“No one way of viewing the world guarantees the solution to its mysteries. Each vantage point offers a truth of its own, bringing to light new beauty and utility, creating new puzzles and contradictions. Newtonian science provided a reliable framework on which the modern West could be built. But then the twentieth century took another look and discovered that the Newtonian framework is only a special case in a larger reality. Space, according to relativity theory, is not fixed, nor is time steady. Common sense notions about cause and effect don’t hold in quantum theory, and it now appears that objects are to be known by their relationships rather than by any independent, fixed character.”
Leonard’s words here are both balm and bother. For those who want to be sure of something, this just isn’t getting us there. Certainty is what keeps us free to flow into our days in some ways as we adapt to those things that shift and change. So, what certainties are there, really? There are certainties more vital than any other, more powerful and effective. And they can be discovered or created by what we consistently cultivate.
Sometimes and for some of us, oftentimes, the most effective consistencies are found in the work of cultivating reliable, real, solid and sustaining personhood. It’s not a word you hear every day or even think of much (unless you’re into that, like me). But we have many “hoods” of concern, many paths that seem to provide a form of shelter in the shifting sands of life. We don’t always recognize these as such but motherhood is the first obvious one to me. The problem with motherhood is this: it is not all one person is and if it’s the one thing from which you spring, you could be in for some major floundering when the last child goes off to college. Also, our children are enriched by who we are overall and especially by what motivates our actions.
For the sake of narrowing it down we can say that personhood is the focus of the cultivation of development along every possible line of being the unique you. It is development of person as mother, as lover, as artist, as mechanic, as citizen, as many expressions of life. We get there by asking “what does it mean to me and why? To be a mother? To be an artist? To be a lover? And how can I insure the ‘why’ of it is incorporated into my expression?”
It would be complicated enough if personhood only had to be about you but cultivating a sense of personhood means also cultivating how and who we relate with and why. People can sometimes make or break our progress in development.
People are best known by their relationships to values, to vision and to the actions they produce in accord with those values and vision. They may say any number of wonderful things about love or about integrity, do things randomly or consistently that seems to validate their vision but what those words and actions reveal of value is especially powerfully illuminating. We can know and draw conclusions of others based on a whole picture of experience, by making decisions to know more about certain people because the emerging “whole” picture reveals some consistencies we value. We can decide to invest more in relationship with some based on what reveals itself in their actions and based on the words and attitudes of those who capture our interest and keep it. In short, we can be more aware and more selective.
We can know self and know self effectively. We can know our cycles, our weaknesses, our strengths, our preferences and from that knowing we can create a life in the midst of ever-shifting theories, studies and effects whose causes, once known, are still mysterious. One of the most valuable tools in creating a reliable haven of living in a world of uncertainty is self-awareness, an awareness that recognizes and is inspired by the truth that we make our worlds as best we can when we work and draw from the depths of honesty in love and visionary compassion. But words like “honesty in love” and “visionary compassion” are of no value unless they are personalized, embraced and actively nurtured.
We can actively nurture values like integrity, authenticity and constructive relating. Finding definitions for these three that are unshakeable and fitting in every walk of life creates even more stability and sureness. A good start is with the question: “Integrity is _____ to me.” Not just “Webster says…” Or “Dad was such a man of integrity so I’ll…” Dad may be great inspiration and provision of heritage. But there is something powerful in making a value our own. e become anchored in something that has personal meaning and are less likely to be knocked around by change.
These anchors become more and more vital in a world that holds no certainty but change and in a world that wants to define you for you. Anchors work best in a life intent on weathering the dynamic tide of living while producing consistent evidence of sustainable growth and change in love.
jruthkelly © 2009