The Age of Self Fulfillment

June 19, 2016 was an important moment in history. Most sport fans will know that NBA’s King James led the Cavaliers to a National Championship in game seven after being down 3-1 to the Oakland Warriors. These two teams are close to me because one is my hometown team and the other is back east where many of my family are from.

Going into game 7, this is what a local sports radio host had to say about the meaning of a win for Cleveland, “What the title would mean to Cleveland you have to understand Cleveland and you have to understand Ohio this is the Rust Belt we’re talking about. When the steel industry collapsed in this region in the midwest and northeast extension that comprises the Rust Belt you had economic decline and poverty. You had loss of population. You had urban decay. These are people who have fallen on hard times; they have very little. It’s not as if they live in a beautiful area where they are staring out at a beautiful day. Beautiful ocean to beautiful bridges, beautiful weather all year, and beautiful people. Harsh winters, hard life. Tough times, tough to find jobs, this is a region in the country that has been on really hard times.”

This is my family he’s talking about! So it was hard to root for the Warriors. Cleveland fans needed this win. If God were on a side it would have to be Cleveland’s.

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So I was ecstatic about the win. Then I read an article in the New York Times that put into words perfectly what I admired in Cleveland’s hometown hero, Lebron James. The article describes the arc of Lebron’s career to the bildungsroman novels of the 20th century. The bildungsroman is a coming of age novel where the protagonist experiences immense growth. Novels in this genre typically feature fatherless figures like Pip in Great Expectations or Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. The full arc brings these characters home and into their place in society. Like these characters, James has completed his narrative, and that is what is bittersweet. It’s the climax, and there will be no future moment, at least an athletic victory of his to succeed this.

He made it happen. He chased his dream down and delivered a Championship title for the fans of Cleveland. He knew exactly what he wanted and accomplished it. That is what I find so admirable.

I have a cousin who just recently finished Physician’s Assistant School. She knew many years ago that this is exactly what she wanted to do. I admire her too for having set a clear goal and achieving it.

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Sailboats are heavily dependent on the direction of the wind for both which direction they can sail and how fast they will go. Jimmy Dean says, “I can’t change direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

I am a wanderer, with no set destination. I think a lot of my own unhappiness and internal struggles come from searching for personal fulfillment. What is my purpose? The gifts and talents God has given to me, have I used them fully? Repeatedly I feel I am molding myself after others, thinking their path is success. Two weeks ago I signed up for anatomy course as a prerequisite for nursing. I’ve already dropped it. I am realizing I am getting further away from what I felt really connected to at the end of highschool, art and the process of making. I need to accept my flight path and not be afraid to follow my own internal compass.

20160714_112236Monarch Butterflies have an internal clock in their antennae and in conjuction with their complex eyes they can monitor the sun’s position in the sky to migrate each year generation after generation. “If a monarch gets off course due to a gust of wind or object in its path, it will turn whichever direction won’t require it to cross the separation point.”1

Identity and Fulfillment

“If I seem happy, it is because I know I am loved for who I am.”―Hector and the Search for Happiness.

“Where must we go, we who wander this wasteland, in search of our better selves?”―Mad Max Fury Road

“Well, I always know what I want. And when you know what you want–you go toward it. Sometimes you go very fast, and sometimes only an inch a year. Perhaps you feel happier when you go fast. I don’t know. I’ve forgotten the difference long ago, because it really doesn’t matter, so long as you move.”― Ayn Rand

“There can be no richer man or woman than the individual who has found his or her labor of love.”―Dennis Kimbro

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.”―Martin Luther King Jr.

Parting Thoughts

Sports psychologists state there are three main sets of goals set for athletes: process, performance, outcome goals. The most important being process, in other words taking those incremental steps.

The NYT article said that the coming of age period for protagonists in the bildungsroman is usually between age 30 and 33 (probably younger for women in the novels of the genre). I turn 33 this year, so no pressure!

In a Forbes article, writer Gianpiero Petriglieri tells us that the search for the true self should be less like digging for a diamond and polishing it and more like nurturing a seed.

1. Eli Shlizerman, James Phillips-Portillo, Daniel B. Forger, and Steven M. Reppert. Neural Integration Underlying a Time-Compensated Sun Compass in the Migratory Monarch Butterfly. April 14, 2016. http://www.cell.com.

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