Not All Who Wander Are Lost…

GandalfI recently wrote a piece about the negative impacts that social-media can present for our society (see here). One part of that post reminded me that, like some other people; I’ve never been very efficient at marketing myself… not that I’ve ever really held any such desire.

I prefer to adopt the digital adage – “wiz-ee-wig” – a much more helpful approach to life, if only to enhance and satisfy my own personal contentment.

Wiz-ee-wig, is the usual pronunciation of the acronym – WYSIWYG –  commonly used in the digital world. A phrase that has been around since the late 1980’s (see history). It’s a term used to describe the output of word processors (e.g. Microsoft® Word™) or, the formatting process of an HTML editor (e.g. Adobe® Dreamweaver™) used to build websites… What You See Is What You Get.

Imagine for yourself a character, a model personality, whose example you determine to follow, in private as well as in public. (Epictetus)

Lacks Direction – Moi?

My desire to be seen as, and accepted for who I am, or perhaps even valued by my peers (sometimes) for my principles and actions, does not necessarily mean I have no direction. Far from it. I simply have no concerns for the contrived marketing of individual importance. Or indeed what people think about me, in reality, I have no control over that.

First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do. (Epictetus)

Underselling my personal ‘worth’ stems from the fact; I see no requirement to tell people how ‘good’ I am, or even could and can be. My ‘worth’ is in the eyes of others and mostly based upon their personal opinions, not what I can tell them about myself.

Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens. (Epictetus)

Too often today, many people are driven by reaching the top rung, of whatever it is they do, usually from some materialistic reasoning and aspirational attainment of financial wealth, rather than any personal fulfilment and/or contentment. It’s often helpful to remember; the label on the tin doesn’t always reflect what is found inside the container.

It takes more than just a good looking body. You’ve got to have the heart and soul to go with it. (Epictetus). 

How I behave and value myself, as a member of humanity and our society, is more important to me and importantly, that behaviour is actually defined and formulated by me. How I value you as an individual, and treat others, is also an important life consideration, at least for me.

If or when other people happen to recognise any ‘worth’ (without me telling them about it) then all the better, I’m probably (hopefully) doing something correctly… that can evidence my personal integrity and ‘value’ – which is something that I’m uncomfortable about measuring purely in financial terms alone. Money is something I usually have no overt concerns about.

But importantly; my apparent lack of ‘direction’ does not automatically equate to me being lost. Just because I don’t appear to follow any particular aspirational pathway also doesn’t automatically mean that I have no purpose… or value.

“All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost. (J.R.R. Tolkien – The Fellowship of The Ring)

Purchase at paraphrasing Tolkien, I’m always reminded of some salient facts;  from the ashes of any situation, a fire can usually be rekindled. Often light shines in the shadows and, when the knife you use to cut through life becomes dull, it can always be honed, to brighten and renew the cutting edge of that particular tool. In short, ‘the crownless’ can always be Kings (or Queens) of their own destiny… irrespective of how some people appear to ‘shine’ more than I do!

But what about the money?

As I’ve already pointed out, I (mostly) have little concern around financial rewards, I never have had. Despite the fact we all need to put food on our table and keep a roof over our heads, too many people get fixated by wealth… as a measure of their personal ‘worth’ and success. That’s one of the prominent adverse factors in today’s world but also, one which has probably been a blight on our society for decades, if not centuries. 

The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively. (Bob Marley)

In general, we tend to measure ourselves by the standards displayed in others. Many of us also have (often irrational) expectations that we will be paid at similar rates (or higher) to those ‘earned’ by the people we aspire to be like. Something that can also be counterproductive for our individual wellbeing.

Open your eyes, look within. Are you satisfied with the life you’re living? (Bob Marley)

Those aspirations, often born in purely financial reasoning, set us on that pathway to constantly chasing a place at the top-table of whatever it is we happen to work at in life.

But, irrespective of how much our ‘icons’ happen to get paid – for whatever it is they do (or often don’t do) – is not, in any reality, a true measure of their individual worth. At least not as a worthwhile member of humanity. Indeed, many of those individuals who receive the most money for their work, tend to do so on the backs of others and often, they can be some of the worst that humanity has to offer.

Learning, improving and supporting others (hopefully with some enjoyment on the way), is a far more important factor for me, rather than a materialistic reward at journey’s end. That steady and purposeful passage through life provides me with personal contentment and I find that satisfying. Extra money can be useful but is rarely a necessity… unless you happen to be one of those people who make a habit of living beyond your means!

The Fellowship of The Ring
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

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