How does a person come to the point where they can act out their trademark self?

How do they come into their meant-to-be persona, their uniquely DNA-ed presence, their most salutary, nurse-like, philanthropic, 501-C identity? How do they come, to hit life’s home run, with the sweetest spot of their best self?

No one is completely sure. No formula finely fits everyone. But some elements seem common to arriving at who we are or want to be or can be.

First, there is a kind of ache, a longing, perhaps an infatuation, an obsession, an attraction which is a focus for the self and what it wants to be. One just loves baseball or painting or puzzles or therapy or math or children. We want to be, something, and the wanting is in us, wants, whether we want it to want or not.

Then there is the milieu, the environment, a kind of necessary medium for becoming the ache inside. It may be a school, a coach, a failure, a success. It may be familiarity, foreignism or family. It may be a routine, that provides a needed stability; it may be a dislocation, that provides the point of comparison. But whatever it is, this background, this surround sound, this solid ground becomes a place-within-a-place in which we can begin.

When who-we-are-that-we-might-better-be finds a soil, an ocean, an outer space, a whiteboard, an Internet connection, a desk, a stage of life, a psychic tent, an emotional lean-to, a barren field of loss even, something that can contain it, that can nurture it, then it can begin to incrudesce.

Finally, there is the trigger, pulled, that fires us into who we want to be. What is that? The trigger is a specific opportunity. We get a chance to get on stage, and we come off dazzled saying, “I love those lights!”

We get a chance, to hold a child who is crying, and we never want to stop stopping them from crying until they stop. Then we go pick up another one.

And when these things come together, ache, medium and opportunity, then we can begin to begin to begin with us.

It is not a given that this will happen for everyone. If it doesn’t, the only appropriate response is grief, and adaptation, finished off with a frosted topping of gratitude.

If it does, if we get to star as us, the only appropriate response is joy —  and adaptation, topped with that sweet, delicious sugary frosting we know as gratitude.

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