Do you ever feel like you’ve lost your “ness”? You know, that twinkle in your eye, that spark inside, that thing that makes you, well you.
“Ness” is something I borrowed from the movie “You, Me and Dupree”, which is surprisingly touching for a critically-panned comedy. Personally, I love this movie. Owen Wilson is awesome. Here’s the clip where he introduces “ness”.
I was talking to my husband the other night, and I told him that I felt like somewhere along the way of life’s ups and downs, my “Allison-ness” got lost.
The next day, I read (and then shared) this quote on Facebook:
“You can only lose something that you have, but you cannot lose something that you are.” ― Eckhart Tolle
And I’ve been mulling it over in my head ever since.
I really want this to be true. If it is, it means my “ness” is in there somewhere, just waiting to be brought back up to the surface – so others can see it’s light.
For me, part of my “ness” was this feeling:
Maybe it was the naivety of youth, but I really did feel that if I worked hard enough, was a good enough person, and had fabulous shoes :), I could do just about anything I put my mind to.
But then, things happened on the path of life – it didn’t go according to plans. Over the course of just a few years, life got hard, and sometimes ugly, and sad. Rather than putting on my cape and fighting the good fight, I found myself tired, distrustful, and overwhelmed much of the time. On too many days, I climbed into my little protective shell and didn’t want to come out. My “ness” climbed in with me, into the safety of the shell.
By posting the quote on Facebook, I sparked an enlightening discussion with a good friend. This friend, Randy, was paralyzed in an accident years ago. He offered a different perspective. His accident, he said, caused a loss of not only something that he had, but also something that he was.
He lost something that most of us take for granted every day – the sensation of sand between our toes – of being physically and spiritually connected to the earth. Although he has accepted it and built a wonderful life, he said that the loss will always be there. “It’s like a kind of death when you wake-up one day and you realize you can no longer remember what you were born with. It changes you.”
The discussion was much longer. We messaged back and forth most of the day. It was enlightening, affirming, and a snap-back-to-reality moment for me.
Our discussion also made me see this Eckhart Tolle quote in a whole new light. I think it is possible (through the aches, pains, and tragedies of life), to lose something that you are. You can lose it physically, which can lead to a more spiritual loss; or emotionally – like loss of innocence, loss of identity, loss of relentless optimism.
Randy’s insight on all of this was invaluable. I am so grateful to him. This the very best thing about Facebook – the ability to connect with some of my favorite people who I no longer get to see regularly.
One other piece of wisdom Randy shared is a recent interview he read with Neil Peart (for all the women reading this – he’s the lyricist/drummer from the the band Rush) about evolution in his philosophical viewpoint. Here’s one of the things Neil had to say:
“Wish Them Well [offers] a very mature response to the world that it took me a long time to learn. In a lot of our early stuff, my lyrical inspiration was anger, for sure. [laughs] There’s still a lot I’m angry about, a lot of human behavior that’s appalling and despicable, but you choose what you can fight against. I always thought if I could just put something in words perfectly enough, people would get the idea and it would change things. That’s a harmless conceit. With people too, you constantly think, “If I’m nice to people and treat them well, they’ll appreciate it and behave better. They won’t, but it’s still not a bad way to live.”
So maybe the answer is that your “ness” is still there. It’s just that, like all of us, it grows up. It doesn’t go away, but rather, changes and adapts to your circumstances and challenges.
I think the important thing is that even though it evolves, you must work to keep it shiny and bright, not let it get dulled by pain and loss. That way, your “ness” is a light coming out of you, rather than a darkness sucking in.
So I am climbing out of that shell, pulling my grown up “Allison-ness” along with me. It’s needs some buffing. It’s not very shiny yet, but I’m working on it.
If your “ness” has been lost along the way as well, I encourage you to find it inside, pull it up, and buff it out. Imagine lots of shiny, positive “nesses” out in the world. Would be an awesome thing.
And I will still be trying to inspire change – but maybe instead of the world, the grown-up Allison will settle on inspiring change within a circle of friends.
As my wise friend Randy said,
“If it’s true that life is about the journey and not the destination, then our peace and happiness must be found in the effort and not the result.”