Ode on Solitude by Alexander Pope
Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air
In his own ground.
Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire,
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
In winter fire.
Blest, who can unconcern’dly find
Hours, days, and years slide soft away,
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quiet by day.
Sound sleep by night; study and ease,
Together mixt; sweet recreation:
And innocence, which most does please
Thus let me live, unseen, unknown,
Thus unlamented let me die,
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.
If there is one thing I’ve learned over the last 41 years (yes, I miscalculated yesterday…a sure sign of my advancing age), it is that you needn’t worry overmuch about what people think you should be. You are who you are and trying to be who you think you should be or who others think you should be is a fool’s errand.
I make this point following Mr. Pope’s lovely poem because you will never find peace if you are consumed with trying to make yourself something that you are not. Moreover, I make this point because the only way to know deep, lasting peace is by truly being yourself.
Being yourself doesn’t imply simply marching to your own tune or being contrary for the sake of creating a contrast between yourself and others. Being yourself requires that you stop hiding from yourself.
I’ve known a great many people who have kept their majestic inner spirit imprisoned in heaven because they were afraid of how it would be received on earth. Whether they fear the pressure of success and acceptance or the stress of failure and rejection is irrelevant, for both are delaying tactics designed to forestall the revelation of who they really are.
This is a terrible waste, for the very qualities of uniqueness that they try so desperately to push behind the curtain with one hand (while typically pushing other less important differences into the spotlight with the other) are the reality of them, the truth of who they are.
If you are concerned to not just rest in peace but to live in peace you must stop the charade. Who do you think you’re fooling anyway? People tend to see right through each other for this very reason. If you are being who you are, others won’t be able to see through you because you will be the most solid person they’ve likely ever met.
You cannot fake peace. You either are at peace or you are not. When you are, you don’t need to make a big stink about it, neither will you feel the need to be noticed or remembered.
Be yourself and be at peace. What do you have to lose?