It would have been great to be able to understand myself when I was 20 rather than when I was 82. – Dave Brubeck
What does that mean?
Once again, we have a nice, short, Twitter-friendly quote with which to work. The more complete version of this quote is “I’m beginning to understand myself. But it would have been great to be able to understand myself when I was 20 rather than when I was 82.”
This quote is about the journey of self-discovery. It isn’t always easy, and it can take a long time, as noted in the quote. The more you think you know, the more likely you are to take wrong turns as you pursue your thoughts, instead of yourself.
With years of experience, and some self examination, you will start to find out more and more about yourself. But it does take a little time, and some quiet introspection. The trick, for me at least, is to be quiet and listen to yourself. That tiny voice will tell you things, if you can only be quiet for a while.
Yet we so often are in a great hurry to figure things out, and to chart our own course. We often mistake our ambitions (or those pressed on us by parents, friends, or society) for an understanding of ourselves. As we chase up these blind alleys, we begin to slow down. It is then that we can best hear that quiet voice.
Why is it important to understand yourself?
If you don’t understand yourself, how will you make the most of yourself? In understanding yourself, you can better find, develop and make use of your talents. I believe that this is what he meant when he said it would have been nice if he knew at 20 what he had learned in the next 60 years.
I believe that there is a certain amount of time necessary to figure yourself out, but I also believe that the time can be shortened by taking some time and examining your life. Introspection, I believe is the key to unlocking your potential earlier in life, rather than later.
Once you have an idea of who you are, and have begun the process of understanding yourself, you can better determine where to put your energy. Until then, you probably put your energy into whatever seems interesting at the time. Eventually, you can figure out if that was something that was really part of you or not. And in this manner, understanding takes another small step forward.
Where can I apply this in my life?
Most of us find ourselves, and understand ourselves after a great deal of trial and error. Usually errors, at least in my case. But the idea is to end up with the wisdom of an old man while still young enough to do something about it, right?
While I doubt there are many 20 year olds who have the life experiences to know what they want to do with their lives, much less have a solid understanding of who they are, they can still get started. For the younger crowd, that’s probably the best you can do, is get started.
For the older readers, you can probably get a lot closer, if you have been paying close attention to your life, and are willing to put in some effort. The method I have used will work for any age, but the younger people may not have as much data to work from.
What I have done before is to think about my past and what the events have meant to me. This is the sort of thing that tends to come naturally at birthdays that end in a zero. Well, at least for those who aren’t too busy crying in their favored beverage to be able to think clearly. 8)
What have you done in the last five to ten years that you really enjoyed? What have you done at which you were relatively good, or at least showed some promise for doing better with practice? Is there much overlap between these things? Are any of them things around which you could make a career?
Go back through your life, in five to ten year chunks and ask those questions again and again. What you are looking for are patterns or lines that converge. What are the things you are good at? What are the things you enjoy? Even better is if you could also base a career around some of these, right?
What we are trying to do is understand what we are good at, and what we enjoy doing. However, let’s try to be serious. No comments about sitting on the couch drinking and watching sports, right guys? And the same kind of thing goes for the girls as well.
The other thing to do is to talk with your relatives, and find out a little about your past from an outside perspective. A lot of people have interesting views of their abilities that aren’t necessarily shared by others. Some are too modest, others err in the opposite direction. It might be helpful to have some input from others.
It might also be helpful to hear what they learned from their life experiences, and what they learned from the prior generations. Is there a particular talent in your family? Mine has been very musical for generations. When I found out about it, a lot of things made more sense, and I understood another small part of myself.
This search for understanding is a journey, a life-long pursuit. I don’t think any of us ever actually get there. We’re just trying to get closer as soon as we can. That just takes a little introspection and a bit of listening to our inner selves.
What do you really enjoy? What are you really good at? How will you make the most of what you have to offer to the world?
From: Twitter, @rousejoe
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/d/davebrubec393239.html
Photo by pmarkham
It is a bittersweet birthday wish for a musical legend of jazz who passed away the day before his birthday. Rest in Peace, Dave Brubeck. Born 6 December, 1920