I read a wonderful interview with Sylvester Stallone in this week's Premiere Magazine today. At 60, Sly has come to accept that he will always be identified with Rocky Balboa. I got the impression that his life has been a continuous cycle of running away from Rocky and seeking comfort by returning to the safety of the character.
I see this occuring many times in my life. Let's face it, we all have the character we've created for ourselves and we have our real selves. Most of the time, if we are at least somewhat emotionally healthy, the character closely resembles the real person. But it is nonetheless a fictional creation.
I really want to start wearing Wranglers and cowboy boots, because I want you to remember that I come from relatively humble beginnings in a small East Texas town. This is the real me, but at the same time, it's not. If I were honest, a more accurate representation of where I came from would be if I returned to wearing $10 rustler jeans with the velcro shoes from Payless. But Rustlers and Velcro aren't as cool as Wranglers and cowboy boots.
Truth is, as Stallone seems to have learned, people will think of you what they will think of you, and there's not much anyone can do to change that. Comfort comes when we stop trying to create the real us and begin being the real us.
This is what I'm learning. I am who I was and I am what my circumstances have caused me to be. In some ways I am what I create. I've always wanted to be identified with who is around me, and in some ways this is healthy. But I'm trying to pull back, assess things, and ask myself that great question that has baffled philosophers and college freshmen for generations, "Who am I?" I'm finding there's not as much there as I once thought, and this a good thing. I took to heart when Rich Mullins sang "Everything that was shaken was shaken, and all that remains is all I ever really had."
I've been shaken over the past year. Now let's see what really remains.