The Best Version of Myself

Oompa Loompa

Sometimes I wish I was someone else. Or, more accurately, sometimes I wish I was the best version of myself more often. Maybe we all feel that way at times. Even George Clooney and Angelina Jolie must feel that way now and again. Insecurity comes in many shapes and guises. It could be that so much of our insecurity stems from our inability to maintain the best of ourselves; to be consistently what we feel we could be. Perhaps this kind of feeling is buried deep down in a lot of people, hidden under layers of experiences, abuses, sins, wins, fails and half-ass attempts. Many maybe never think about it. Many may think this is a bunch of navel-gazing bullshit. Many may be right. Or wrong.

I know I have been frustrated being me. At times that veers into self-loathing but mostly it is more like self-annoyance. It is those moments where I get all existential and float outside looking in. I don’t like hanging out with myself because myself is being a prick. But I can’t really get away. I’m stuck with me for the rest of my life. When I am in a full-on gripe session with myself, this can be a depressing thought.

Can you relate or is this just weirding you out right now? I know some of us are more taken with self-introspection than others. I am jealous of you at times; you who can blithely live free from the grip of the inner-angst gremlins that are banging pots in pans in my kitchen right now.

I always imagined this would go away as I got older. Unfortunately, at least for me, it has just gotten worse; worse because I get so annoyed with the fact that I’m getting older and should be getting over this silliness.

I am too old to think I could ever be someone else. But I am not too old to believe I can work to be the best version of myself more often. There are times, believe it or not, when I like myself; those are days I really do like being with me. When I think about those days one abiding thought comes to mind: I’m not focused on myself! When I am most miserable is when I am spending far too much time concerned with how I am coming across, if I am impressing people, if I am doing or saying things that make me stand out. When I am most happy and content, I could give a damn about that stuff; in fact, I’m just enjoying life and enjoying the people around me. That’s when I can stand being me. More so, I like being me!

But how to stay in that place more often? How to linger there and make it a habit of life? There’s a Catch 22 here in the fact that focusing on myself too much makes me miserable. Yet I have to spend some time in self-reflection to discover just when I am the best version of myself. I suppose that is exactly what I’m doing now in this blog. Aren’t you glad I included you in on my self-obsessed rantings and ravings? You’re welcome.

Uh-oh… veering into the self-loathing category. Time to right myself again!

Okay, I’m better now.

Do you get what I’m talking about? Ironically, in a culture of counting Facebook likes and creating the perfect selfie, I have discovered that living less in a world about yourself is a far happier state than focusing on yourself all the time. That is, living in such a state of self-awareness that you begin to forget self makes you a far, far better version of yourself than you can ever hope to manufacture.

Maybe that’s the contrast: self-aware, not self-centered. Understanding yourself well and being okay with the good, bad and ugly instead of trying to craft yourself into something you are not.

Ultimately, the best version of myself is never, ever going to be perfect. But it certainly will make me (mostly) happy. And it is has a much greater chance of helping others find the best versions of themselves, too. Self-centeredness is never going to help anyone, least of all yourself. Self-loathing will never help you, either, and will present a you to the world that just drags people down.

It’s okay to spend time trying to known yourself better. Just don’t end up locked in solitary confinement with yourself. We each hold the keys to get out of that cell. Time to set ourselves free, don’t you think?


An Ode On Canada Day

Happy Canada Day! A year ago I published an ode to my adopted country based on Keats’ “Ode On a Grecian Urn”. It seemed appropriate to publish it again.

Thou still unravished bride of
American putz:
What maple leaf–fringed legend haunts thy shape
Of Gretzky and mortals or both
In Toronto or the dales of Burnaby?
What men or Mufferaws are these? What Acadians loth?
What Trivial Pursuit? What pass from tape-to-tape?
What fiddles and bagpipes ? What tepid Red Rose tea?

Shaped dough of Tim’s is sweet, but flowing syrup
Sweeter, therefore, trees tap on;
Not just for sensual tongue but, more endear’d,
Feed our spirits with thy rich tone.
Fair youth on outdoor rinks cannot yet go
Home though supper-time be called
No winning shot has yet been tallied
Skate on despite wind and cold
Warmth will flood when, arms upraised,
Is heard, “He shoots! He scores!”

What land is this that freezes and boils,
Where deep snow yet blistering sun is seen?
Toques, Mukluks and tanks of heating oils
Exist with swimming trunks, AC and sunscreen.
In span of but weeks the snowshoers tread
On waters now solid and still;
Only now calm from the cottagers play,
From Ski-dos, canoes, loons and kabooms.
From evergreen to seemingly dead,
A cycle no death can kill.

O Canuck land, fair and free, doth teem
Of men authentic, maidens fair overwrought,
With forests, lakes, rivers and trodden paths,
Your vast form dost tease us out of thought.
Cities rumble, roll and flow; highways stretch beyond
Imaginings; people red and white and black and tan
Make a tapestry draped in full humanity.
Sea to sea to sea and there and back again,
Draws from each soul a simple, “It’s a beauty, eh?”
And in truth beauty, beauty truth
C, A, N, A, D, and A