Being ourselves

Each life is precious and this uniqueness gives an person’s his or her ‘mysteriousness’- their allure. I was reading recently about Audrey Hepburn who died in 1993 at the age of 63. Her son says that when he was young, he didn’t realise his mother was a ‘movie star’ until later. She lived an ordinary life, according to him, walking her dog and eating simple pasta. For an outer life led in the spotlight, her inner life was simple- it had to be balanced. Her unique allure was her simplicity and the full life she led.

Her son, Luca Dotti, says about his mother, ‘She didn’t have to impress anyone, really. It was what she loved and how she lived.’ Audrey Hepburn was a ‘humanitarian’ at heart- doing less of acting work as she grew older and instead quietly devoting herself to to UNICEF. Since 1954, she worked in some of the most profoundly disadvantaged communities of Africa, South America and Asia between 1988 and 1992. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in December 1992 (she was to die the following year). Until the end of her life, she tirelessly ‘renewed herself’ from being a ballet dancer, a chorus girl to Hollywood star and then to humanitarian activities. She also was a style icon with her unique hair style and way of dressing which no one has been able to duplicate since. Whether walking her dog or being with poor children, she was just herself. I wondered how we are always trying to be someone else, copying styles and forgetting ourselves? How easy can be it to be just ourselves? Surely being ourselves can’t be that difficult and yet, it is the most difficult thing in the world.

Daisaku Ikeda says, ‘Never for an instant forget the effort to renew your life, to build yourself anew. Creativity means to push open the heavy, groaning doorway of life itself. This is not an easy task. Indeed, it may be the most severely challenging struggle there is. For opening the door to your own life is in the end more difficult than opening the door to all the mysteries of the universe.’

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