At the weekend class "The Psychology of Transformational Narrative" I took in January, we did a very interesting exercise at the end of the weekend. Each of us had a section of the blackboard on which we wrote as comprehensive a list as we could, naming each of the "roles" we've played in life. From this list, with everyone in the class looking at all the lists, it was then possible to find very obvious "threads of destiny." In other words, what you tend to do repeatedly across the years can tell you a lot about yourself. These roles are like threads that draw you into your right life - your authentic self.
It was a really interesting thing to do, and it was as personally clarifying as washing the extra cement from around the aggregate in a newly poured path. Have you ever watched the process? They pour rocks and cement together, and then they wash out the cement so as to expose the tops of the rocks. It's a decorative thing ... but exposed aggregate is also functional. A walker gets better traction on a rougher surface.
Well, if you list all your roles, and then draw circles around similarities, you find themes like "Organizer," or "Outside the system," or "Sage," or "Innovator." Those things probably aren't on the list -- the list shows the various ways in which your life has shown these themes.
Ever since that weekend in January, the idea of "roles" and life's "themes" has been rattling around in the back of my brain. What is this called? What is this called? I keep finding the question repeating. The motto to "do few things well" has joined the question. To be recollected is the opposite of being scattered; and the chief job of midlife is to choose one's major in life. Specialize. After decades of trials and errors and more trials, during which one ought to have been paying attention, now it is time to declare those few themes that make for a good obituary. I'm not kidding! What was her life about? What did he do with his time? In his time? Midlife is when we ought to choose our own answers to this question.
Now, if you look to the Labels on this blog, you will find Roles - but I had to leave "Return to School" as is --- it's linked elsewhere. The list is not a mandate or a proscriptive wall around my life. It is an attempt to clarify and focus. So ... what are your roles? Who are you? I'm not much of a picker or a grinner, and as for lovin' on the run ... well, yeah, but monogamously. I'm a walker. I'm a reader. I'm a midnight writer. And I do my shoppin' on the run. If you can get your roles down to a few, and find your themes, you can get some good traction.