Those cauldrons of synaptic activity, that if left unchecked, will define our level of understanding of how we view ourselves. They also filter our perceptions on how (we think) others see us.

So how does one acquire a balanced, healthy thought life that provides for an honest perspective of oneself? Well for starters, we have to demystify and deconstruct some incorrect belief systems.

Something that I am sure most of us wrestle with, is our inability to fully acknowledge that our thought life is in fact, our life. You cannot have a life apart from how you think. There are no parallel universes wherein we exist on one mental plane in coexistence with another. The influences we generate or respond to from our immediate surroundings showcase who we are and how we function.

If you habitually think less of yourself, then without even trying, you initiate a self-fulfilling prophecy. At some point, one has to have access to a definitive and credible standard of reference that can be used to gauge who you believe yourself to be. At a minimum, this should allow you to begin the process of identifying and ultimately appreciating your innate value. Quantifying our self-worth based upon our own man-made assumptions and life experiences, is the epitome of self-delusion, and usually leads to self-reproach, which as we all (should) know, does not exactly lend itself to the edification of the inner man.

Why all of this introspection? Well, to know me is to get a glimpse into how I think; not necessarily what my thoughts are. Two score and fourteen years ago, on this day, I entered this physical plane. Over the intervening years, and ever since I can remember, after any significant event that has transpired that has affected me directly, I have always found myself taking stock of the immediate present. Dislocating oneself from the past in order to function and remain acclimatized to the here and now, can be a challenge to ones mental equilibrium; especially if the experiences have been in any way, shape or form, traumatic.

No, I am not advocating any of Buddha’s “living in the now” tenets, but I am recommending that we not arbitrarily dispose of past experiences, whether they have been less than pleasant, or full of contentment. In our zeal to arrest any current imbalance in our lives, let us not ignore life lessons from the past we hopefully can glean from.

This birthday, is one that I consider a valuable commodity; more so than previous ones. I am not sure if it’s because I have begun to appreciate the unquantifiable value of graciously being given another year to reflect. Not just to reminisce and ruminate about the past, but to catch sight of the vistas that are breaking for the future. These vistas can not come into existence without having an understanding of the value of where you have come from, or the things you have experienced. Why does it take us so long to see and grasp what is important in life? Crucibles tend to be super-heated utensils that confine, restrict and extract, all for the sake of establishing what is pure and valuable. Yes, that includes things we would rather do without; like sorrow, financial destitution, or questionable health. These and others somehow add to that part of our being, that through the refining process, enables it to become more precious than gold.

If I had the knowledge and wisdom I have today, back when I was mediating arguments between what my 19 year old testosterone-charged mind thought was right, versus what was truth, then I might have gained insight earlier. But, I am encouraged nonetheless. Even Moses needed 80 years to prep for a calling, that for all intents and purposes seemed like it should have been a young man’s portfolio. Compared to him, I am now in my adolescent early 50’s. This gives me reason to hope, as I have so much yet to learn.

Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable‚ if anything is excellent or praiseworthy‚ think about such things.