Okay, brace yourself, here comes a bit of a revelation:
I love ABBA.
And the above title got me singing ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’. This song is about relationships – more on that later – but it also makes me wonder… how much do we really know ourselves?
Do we spend so much time musing about other people’s lives and activities that we lose sight of who we really are, and about relating to others, that we end up feeling more fragmented because we just do not meet other people’s ‘ideal’ standards?
I think sometimes we can spend far too much time watching what other people are up to, especially online, and then in a subconscious way we start comparing ourselves with them. A subtle depression and inadequacy can take seed within us if we decide that we don’t measure up to what that person is doing or what this person is saying or achieving. In the meantime, if we do not use that information to improve our own lives, our time is just ticking away and all we have ever done is stare at a screen to keep up with someone else.
Time is so precious. I know that I use a lot of it by looking online researching for things I enjoy or in supporting my hobbies, work, or for educational purposes, but I know that if I was true to myself I would admit that I spend way too much time looking at this wretched screen. I love writing and maintaining this blog, even though there are days when I feel like giving it up, until it keeps calling me back. Meanwhile, at the time of writing this my garden is looking neglected (it’s too cold out!), and other things on my to-do list – which in no way relates to switching on a computer – are still sitting there waiting for me.
Back to ABBA again for a minute.
‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’ includes the following lyrics:
Memories, good days, bad days
They’ll be with me always
In these old familiar rooms children would play
Now there’s only emptiness, nothing to say
The song is about a relationship break-up and the inevitable feeling of sadness in saying goodbye to someone or in dealing with a family breaking apart. In our own brokenness or sorrows, we are left with mixed memories of those ‘good days’ and ‘bad days’. That’s life. But do we make time for some quiet reflection about how are we coping? Are we spending time being with ourselves and discovering what kind of person we have become or want to be? Have we lost ourselves along the way? Did we think we knew another person in our lives, only to be disappointed? Or do we follow someone online with blinkers on because we cannot truly see them as they are?
Do we really know ourselves? Do we really know other people around us? Are we ‘Knowing me’, then ‘Knowing you’, or just ‘Watching you’?
If many of us were totally honest with ourselves we would say that we may have a lot of emptiness in our lives, with ‘nothing to say’ for ourselves, so we compensate by looking at what others are doing out there. We marvel at rock climbers, adventurers, amazing bloggers, fashionistas, TED Talk speakers, and so many other seemingly ‘brilliant’ people who are doing things that we – for whatever reason – are not doing ourselves. They may inspire us and motivate us, but this ever-watching way of life can also trigger that nasty little voice in our minds which says that we just are not ‘good enough’, or life circumstances, finances, or other limitations are holding us back.
At the same time, while we may not want to be rock climbers, or we may hate writing or singing, or the thought of being an adventurer stuck hanging off a cliff makes our skin crawl, it is a thrill to watch those who are passionate about these things and see their joy, their passion, or their moment in the sun, because it means that there are possibilities for ‘the rest of us’. We love seeing what all types of people do because we know that we could achieve such things in our lives too. We admire those who are not chained to the office job that we are in, or who dive into the deeps of the ocean because we fear drowning, or who can hit that high note. It is an adrenalin rush and addictive, hence the many YouTube hits out there and other forms of ‘followers’.
Amongst all of this observing of others and their feats, we also need to remember that people are human, and the Internet is a virtual place. It is open to interpretation and different perceptions. Hours of editing, deleting, augmenting, embellishing, and perhaps other forms of covering up or hocus pocus may be going on which we know nothing about. When we switch off our screens and unplug, we are ultimately left behind with the only person who can give us permission to find our own true gifts and talents – ourselves.
So can we use the information we absorb through watching others to improve our own lives? How do we get to know ourselves better so that we too can achieve something that will make us feel more alive and fulfilled?
It is a tricky one for each of us to figure out, but for me I think it begins with silence and a notepad. This is really going back to the basics here. I have found that the most inspirational times for me are very early in the morning, or when surrounded by nature, or when simply taking time for rest or silence.
Earlier in this post, I mentioned how in sometimes wanting to switch off or shut down this blog, I inevitably do not because “it keeps calling me back”. That is a big clue in life, I believe, so let’s start there. This is not about addiction, but a feeling of something more.
Is there something which is constantly calling you back? Perhaps a hobby, commitment, or some skill that you love using? If you resist it do you feel it pulling you back because you enjoy it so much – something wholesome, legal, and beneficial to you and others (not talking about anything destructive here – to be clear!)? Is it perhaps God telling you something about your strengths and your own contribution to the world? If you are drawn to watching other people doing this same thing online, or feel a kinship with other people who are living the life that you would love, is that perhaps a clue for you to pursue it too out there in the real world?
Can you see what I mean? If you feel miserable about wasting your time watching other people’s lives online, can you perhaps turn that into a positive to inspire and inform your own life goals? Which direction are we looking in?
Knowing me, knowing you, there is something you can do – for yourself.
Oh, and if you are ever breaking up with someone perhaps tell them once you are back on solid ground… not while in a sailing boat in the middle of the ocean… :-))
Image Credit: pixabay.com