Wednesday, January 31, 2007

One's real life...

"One's real life is often the life that one does not lead"
Oscar Wilde

I was sitting in the hairdresser's reading The Week - (the magazine that summarizes all the news in 35 pages, and, so they claim, can be read in an hour) - and I came across this quotation. I don't know the circumstances in which Wilde said originally this, but one can readily imagine that he was referring to the fact that, though by nature a homosexual, he had married and had children, so giving himself an acceptable public image and social status.

I began to think about what the words might mean for me, and the kind of circumstances in which it would be appropriate to use them. I came up with five possibilities:
  • We might find ourselves being prevented from living our 'real life' by circumstances, or others' expectations of us, or our own weaknesses.
  • We might choose deliberately to lead a different life from that which we believe to be the right one, though I have not been able to think of an example as yet.
  • Or, to mitigate the dullness of an unsatisfactory lifestyle, we might create a fantasy or ideal life which we try to believe is real.
  • It might be that the opportunity does not present itself for us to fulfil our true and proper role, or what one might call God's, or nature's purpose for us.
  • And we might find ourselves contemplating our lives, from our approaching end, and regretting things we have never done, and that know we could, or more importantly, should have done.

I can associate myself with several of these. Most particularly, the second last. I am inclined to believe that whatever the Creative Principle of the Universe may be, it will often present us with opportunities to take up a role which is right for us, and also serves those around us; it may be a short-term or a long-term role, but it is one in which we will be at our best and most effective, and we shall learn and grow as a result of playing it. I consider that I have been lucky in having had three such opportunities in my life, all of them occurring after I had turned 60, and the role I played is one I would loosely describe as "troubleshooter". But more of that another time .....


DellaB said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DellaB said...

Good analysis Judith, yes I agree the quotation could be taken all of the ways you mention.

Regrets? I have a few... but then again, too few to mention...

I have spent quite a bit of my life though, with a different stage playing in the background, in my head, but I do believe that we are where we are meant to be, doing what we are meant to be doing - for whatever reason...

BTW - I have added a link to one of your posts on my blog, I hope that is okay?

And Lee, if you are here, I've been having trouble using the link I have for yur curate's egg blog - it wont load the page for me, have you moved?

thanks again Judith..

herhimnbryn said...

Differant horses for differant courses?
I find as I get older, I am frequently my authentic self and love the sense of freedom that brings.

Avus said...

Funnily enough I watched the film "Wilde" (the Steven Fry/Jude Law version) last night.
I agree that his quote perfectly sums up his situation - especially in those "tighter" Victorian times.

The Editor said...

Does one read biographies for advice for the future or to see where one went wrong?

Anonymous said...

What is not real about living up to circumstances or confronting limitations that prevent realizing a "real life?"

What is not real about a responding and sacrificing to those circumstances?

Could those things be all too real a part of life? Hardship is incredibly personal, much more so than a by-the-numbers success.

What is weakness? Could it be the cumulative crisis point where exterior pressures combine with the interior pressures intrinsic to a personality? Maybe weakness is sometimes a bluff in a negotiation with self.

Could hardship make it possible for some people to eventually "self-actualize?"

Maybe sacrifice and deprivation help someone define and forge themselves for latter "self-actualization" where they wouldn't have otherwise have had the character. (I hope.)

Are you self-actualizing in blogs while also playing a service roll in inspiring your readers?

I will have to get my own blog opened. I am much more inspired by what others have to say though and rarely write otherwise.

Ook said...


"Whats not real . . ., "

was posted by me.

Judith said...

DellaB - how do you remove a post you make on someone else's blog? I've often wanted that facility! Of course I don't mind you linking to my blog - I imagine we all like to increase our readership.

The Editor - I read biographies because I like to know about other people's lives, even quite ordinary ones. I believe that other people are endlessly interesting. But that doesn't prevent me wondering if my life will be interesting to others, which is why I am trying out bits of it here on my blog.

Ook - I like your response to my rather hastily assembled list of possibilities. I had to look up "self-actualization", as it's a word I've never used before. The definition I found was this: "What a man can be, he must be. This need we call self-actualization. - Abraham H. Maslow". Now that seems exactly to describe what I was saying about taking up a role in which one will be at one's best and most effective - especially the words 'must be', which I interpret not in the sense of 'should be', but rather in the sense of a subjective imperative which compels one to take on these roles, even though the challenge seems terrifying.

And yes, now that I understand the word better, I think you are right
that I am self-actualizing in blogs, though it hadn't occurred to me to think I was playing a 'service role' - serving my vanity is closer to the mark, I would say!

Lee said...

Hi Della: yes, follow the link on my profile.

Judith: When you log on and go to the comments postings on someone's blog you will see a small dustbin below your postings, click on it to delete.

I don't think I agree with Oscar. One leads what one can; sure you can have dreams and goals but they must be tempered with realism. (eg no goal that includes singing will work for me.) Related to that I firmly believe that we always make the best decisions (=lead the best life), based on the information available.

Judith said...

Thanks Lee. These days I seem to look at things without seeing them. Or else my brain is too lazy to interpret them properly.

Your comment about always making the best decisions based on the information available: that is a comforting way to set regrets at rest, but I'm not sure that it isn't a bit too easy. If you look at something squarely and say "I could have done better", maybe you will learn more and bring about some beneficial change .....maybe!