Old Teen Essays
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Article ID: 4510
Age Group: Adult
Posted: May 7th. 2001
Greetings Witches, Wiccans and Pagans,
"Stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold." were the final words that Johnny, one of the main characters in S.E. Hinton's classic book The Outsiders, speaks to his best friend, Ponyboy. Johnny and Ponyboy were both born and raised in a social class known as 'the greasers' - a fact that was expected to both seal their fates and rule their futures. Yet within each of these young men was another person-a real person-who did not fit the stereotype of who the world thought that they were. Ponyboy loved reading and sunsets. Johnny had the heart of a hero and the soul of a poet. It is only through the often brutal and ultimately tragic events that unfold in the story that the reader comes to see the 'real' person beneath the tough exteriors forged by the boys' surroundings. (No matter what your age, if you have never read, "The Outsiders' before, pick up a copy.)
The struggle to be 'who we really are' is never an easy one. Circumstances, financial status, family dynamics and peer pressures may all gang up on the individual in an effort to mold and shape the personality into this thing or that thing. An artist brought up in a family of lawyers or doctors will have just as much of struggle to remain true to his/her personal Muse as would a disadvantaged child trying to rise about the squalor and lethargy that stares him/her in the face each and every day. Authenticity comes with a price - a price which one must be willing to pay. But the rewards that come from living a life in authentic awareness are beyond measure.
Regular readers know that Wren is an avid fan of the varied works of Abraham Harold Maslow. Maslow's theories of 'self-actualization' continue to have relevance-perhaps even increasing relevance-today. In 'Future Visions', Maslow writes:
"How much of your dignity and pride depend on concealment and secrecy? How would you feel if people could always read your mind and know what you were thinking all the time? Or, if they could physically see you at all times-naked, without privacy or concealment, in all your private and secret activities? The dignity and pride that would then remain are your only REAL dignity and pride.
In order to regain authentic dignity and pride, try not concealing, not relying on external signs of validation (uniforms, medals, a cap and gown, labels, social roles). Show yourself as ultimately naked and self-revealing. Show your secret scars, shames, and guilts. Do not let anyone force roles on you. That is, do not act the way that other people think that a doctor, minister, or teacher SHOULD act if it is not natural for you. Do not conceal your ignorance. Admit it."
Maslow's self-actualizers (which are found in large numbers within the Pagan communities) are willing to do the work that it takes to be 'real'. So if you don't happen to like -or pay the outrageous sums for- 'ren' clothes (which are sure to be back 'in' as soon as 'The Mists of Avalon' airs), wear your jeans if that is what you are comfortable in. If you would rather take some time to celebrate the Holidays alone, do so. Decline social invitations that are no longer meaningful to your life and spend the time doing something that is. But becoming self-actualizing or authentic is not just about saying 'no' to those things in your life that no longer work for you. It is also about learning to say 'yes' to the things that will.
Say 'yes' to calling in a quarter at the next ritual even if you are very, very nervous about it. Say 'yes' to reading new materials or alternative viewpoints. Say 'yes' to writing that article or essay and dare to put yourself -your real self- out there for the world to see and enjoy. Say 'yes' to something that stretches your imagination, expands your boundaries or makes you reach just a little further than you ever have reached before. The gift of the 'real' you is a gift that only you can give.
Maslow continues:" One might say that 'the individual does not have to be victorious to be accepted by the gods'. This statement makes the point very well about psychological success. It also intimates that there isn't a single monolithic hierarchy of success or failure in life, but that many hierarchies exist. Perhaps ultimately each human being is a hierarchy unto him or herself, because in the final analysis, one's task is to be oneself well."
Photo credit: This beautiful altar shot came in just this morning from Lady Heather (web: countrycauldron.com/) from Lady Lake, Florida (USA)... "Here is a picture of my daily altar. I mainly use it for morning and evening devotions. It is proudly displayed in the heart of my home, the living room. I hope you include it in the wonderful pictures you place on your home page". Thanks Lady Heather for this inspirational image!
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