I have a copy of Hugh Prather’s “Notes to Myself” which is a collection of thoughts and ideas which a friend of mine recommended a few years ago. I eventually bought the book, started reading it and then put it down for a couple years. I picked it up again recently and have carried it in my bag.
I’ve done a little travelling lately and the book has come in handy in that time between when the plane begins its descent and we’re supposed to pack away our devices and landing at my destinations. It’s the sort of book you can read piecemeal. Prather’s thoughts are anything from a line to a paragraph or two and each one is a gem. One quote that appeals to me is this one:
There is a part of me that wants to write, a part that wants to theorize, a part that wants to sculpt, a part that wants to teach…. To force myself into a single role, to decide to be just one thing in life, would kill off large parts of me.
This speaks to an ongoing internal debate I have about my identity and how I present that identity to the world. Am I a lawyer, strategist, writer, photographer … what defines me and how does my chosen identity affect how I present all those other desires I have to express myself in other ways? Prather’s point, of course, is that creating these false distinctions between different parts of our selves or even forcing ourselves to choose one “role” is ultimately harmful. How to reconcile them isn’t so easy, especially when your different “roles” are diverse.
Just the same, I suppose a healthier starting point is “Parts of me want to do different things and I don’t necessarily have to choose which to do, only when and how to do them.”