I read a story about Marilyn Monroe the other day. In the height of her fame, she was in New York City and rode the subway without anyone recognizing her. She was not disguised in any way, but was able to stand at Grand Central Station waiting for the train, then ride for several stops without being noticed. She had a photographer and a magazine editor with her and her point was, she could be glamorous and famous or ordinary and unnoticed, at will. She had charisma, which is derived from self-esteem and self-awareness. And she was in control of how she projected that charisma. When she exited the train, with the flick of a switch, like a light bulb, Marilyn became Marilyn again, deliberately, and was instantly mobbed by fans.
Today is a day I’d like to ride the train unnoticed. Not that I have any number of fans who may otherwise mob me. But I feel like lying low. I, truthfully, just want to spend some quality time with my favorite person. Me. I need some me time. Is there something wrong with what I said? Should we not consider ourselves one of our favorite people? Certainly, when trying to improve our self-esteem, our self-confidence and our self-awareness we must acknowledge that we are pretty cool people, right? Isn’t that part of the point, to develop self-respect, self-acceptance and a healthy self-image?
During the course of any one day, we are frequently picked away at by little, petty nigglings and naggings by the people in our lives, the people we love and who love us in return, our mob of fans. It is common, natural and normal, for people to try to influence our behavior to a manner that suits their liking a bit more. It is common, natural and normal for people close to us to offer constructive criticism, well meaning, of course. It is common, natural and normal to become the sounding board for every ache, pain, indiscretion, injustice or fleeting thought for those close to us. And it is common, natural and normal to want, need and to seek respite from all of that, on occasion. Today is that day.
In respite, I want to nurture myself with quiet thought and reflection on all the input from the past days, weeks, months. In respite, I want to consider, or reconsider, the path I am on, the goals I’ve committed to, the actions I’ve taken and those I’ve planned, to assure myself that I am still on track, that my goals are still true. In respite I want to remind myself that I don’t require anyone or anything external to “make me” happy, fulfilled, or complete. I don’t need wealth, I don’t need material possessions, expensive cars, big houses, vacation homes, extravagant gifts, presents, jewelry, greeting cards, frequent text messages, birthday parties, phone calls, flowers, plans on my calendar, the DVD box set of Friends, or even shoes, to make me feel better or better about myself. Everything I need, everything I require, for genuine happiness and fulfillment exists within me and at this precise moment in time. Now. I only need to acknowledge that fact to unleash it and let it be true.
I know this, I have known this for a very long time. I have practiced this, but in the din of daily life, I occasionally fall out of practice and look outward, from inside, in search of something to satiate me. And nothing does. Nothing can. Everything, if that were even possible, couldn’t. Not that I will turn away from family, friends, loved ones, my career, or my desires, no, but I need only remind myself that my true, genuine happiness does not come from those people or those things, they are just the gravy on the potatoes. The potatoes being, simply, myself. And in acknowledgement of these facts, and with practice of that acknowledgement, on a regular basis, all those other things will likely manifest. It is true.
It is my belief that much of the pain, unhappiness and discontent in the world around us is from lacking. From lacking of the importance of self. From lacking self-esteem. This being the same pain, unhappiness and discontent, the same feeling of lacking, that sends millions upon millions of people to the doctor with the name of that new pharmaceutical miracle pill they saw on television last night. The pill that leads one to believe that life is a sunshiny, slow motion, graceful run through fields of wild flowers once said pill has been ingested. Like diet pills and miracle cures, happy pills won’t provide what only oneself can. The sooner we all just stop, look and listen, the sooner we will find what it is we long for. It is all inside and the only intervention required is the time and reflection necessary to acknowledge this and practice it. Are you on the inside, looking out for what you think you need to fill you up? Or are you looking inward to find exactly everything you’ll ever need, want or require?
Sadly, even Marilyn Monroe did not understand this fact. And though she had charisma, which comes from self-esteem, and a strong self-awareness, as evidenced by her subway ride, throughout her life, she was looking outward for fulfillment and satiation, which despite having fame and fortune and seemingly “everything”, she failed to ever find. And it destroyed her.
And so my day of going unnoticed on the train was fruitful. I feel revived and rejuvenated, relaxed and in charge, happier and more fulfilled, returning home long after dark, a long day with my favorite person. Me.
Ok, so I bought shoes.