“Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly.” (St. Francis de Sales)
Whether I’m right or whether I’m wrong
Whether I find a place in this world or never belong
I gotta be me, I’ve gotta be me
What else can I be but what I am
In 1968 the radio air waves were full from this ballad by Sammy Davis Jr. And today’s quote is a reminder of the truth and importance behind that song from 46 years ago. In this life I have no other viable choice but to be the person I am, and as St. Francis reminds me “to be that perfectly.”
I have talked much in recent weeks about the people in my life who have influenced who I am today. My attitudes and values have been shaped over time by many people, some profoundly, others more casually. While there are influences from many, I have found that it is fool’s folly to try to imitate any of them. I can no more be one of them, than they could be me.
Today I am pondering on that last phrase, to be me perfectly. A part of who I am is that I am flawed. There are within me, as within every person, imperfections. What does it mean, then to be me perfectly?
I don’t think St. Francis was encouraging us to become perfectionists. I don’t think that the quote exhorts us try to be perfect by some external measurement. Nor does he mean to tell us to just blindly accept all imperfections within us without striving to improve. Rather, the perfection of being who I am comes in accepting that I have flaws, while always striving to make myself just a little better.
There have been many days when I have sat here and promised myself to work on one thing or another. The list of things I’m working on is growing long, so I won’t be adding anything today. I will just close with this thought. Whether or not I ever completely “fix” any of my imperfections or flaws, the fact that I am constantly a work in progress means, to me, that I am being myself and trying to be that perfectly.