How do we measure ourselves?

Ultimately it’s up to each of us to make that decision based on who we think we are. That’s a pretty simple truth to put down on paper but it’s a hard rule to stand by.

We are forever looking outwards and watching and interacting with a world of people who start becoming our measuring stick. How they dress, how they live, where they live, how they talk, where they work, what they earn, where they travel, how often they travel, where they eat, how
often they have sex, who they have sex with, how they look.

We live in this world of envy. For men it’s the ego at its absolute worst. Whilst it is driving us, it is also driving us insane.

And it’s only getting harder.

How many friends do we have through the various social media outlets? Are we on every site? If not, why not? Are we doing something wrong? We are drowning as we try to keep up.


We live in a time of lack. We run around chasing the world around us and end up chasing our own tails. The saddest thing about all of this wasted energy and effort is that it’s totally unnecessary.

There is no necessity of keeping up with the others. Each one of us is a special individual born with our own innate needs, desires and values.

We are who we are.

The great American essayist and philosopher, Henry Thoreau, said “mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” He again nailed it when he said, “if a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it’s because he hears a different drummer.” This is pure gold.

The words need to be read over a number of times – slowly and deliberately. We are losing the essence of who we actually are. Life is not a contest.

Life is just what it is…life.

The idea of the “different drummer” applies to all of us. It reminds me of the words Shakespeare’s Polonius spoke to Laertes in Hamlet: “This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day. Thou canst not then be false to any man.”


I had a wonderful aunt who lived and breathed this philosophy. She was always firm but fair. She was knowledgable but used the knowledge with wisdom. She was well-read and comfortable in any presence. She didn’t have to look up or down to anyone. She was happy in her own skin and exuded confidence. She was gracious. She was totally her own person. When she died, I ensured Polonius’ words appeared on her headstone.

It should be a simple philosophy to follow.

She was not interested in money for its own sake, although she always knew she needed enough to meet her needs. She was never a copycat. She gathered information as she went along and either kept it or threw it out. She would never drown in trivia. Fortunately, she died just before the technology revolution took off- she would be appalled by the wallowing in crap that we see today. She would be an outstanding teacher today. She would understand the rules of life and show that they never change.

Modern life is like a runaway train which needs to take some carriages off and
add some new brakes. It is thundering down the track and is out of control. We all have to stop it. Now. As I said, it’s out of control.

Image credit: Rain, Steam and Speed (1844) by J. M. W. Turner (1775-1851) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons