My Bucket List – Part 4: My Search for Who I Truly Am

In this post I share what I’ve learned about my second major experience of reverse engineering my deep bucket list – re-discovering who I truly am.

Paul Carter in Guanajuato, Mexico
Paul Enjoying the “Dance” of Guanajuato, Mexico

Picking up the thread of previous posts,…

Why search for “who I truly am?”

I can’t help it. There have been many points in my life when I this question gnaws at me. But my most recent quest was sparked by Bronnie Ware’s book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. Bronnie worked for many years in paillative care. Again and again she found that the number one regret of people in their last hours was: I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. … So that’s my focus now that I have an estimate of my date with destiny.

What do I mean by “who I truly am?”

I have thought about this question in so many different ways: my role, my values, my strengths, and so on. Lately, I’ve been thinking about it as both a story and a dance.

The hero/heroine’s journey

Joseph Campbell has helped me understand who I am as the story of a person on a “hero/heroine’s journey.” 

For example: Who I am is a guy who grew up wanting to be an engineer, whose parents persuaded him to become a minister, who regretted this choice, rebelled and wandered around trying many other things, and who ended up turning his regret into a gift. And now he explores other cultures and creates a community for people to deepen their bucket lists to live regret free lives.

Dance while the music is still playing

But this who-I-am as the end goal of a “journey” lacks something that Alan Watts has helped me see. His idea is that when we see life as constantly moving forward and progressing, we might be missing the whole point.

For example: Instead of putting on the blinkers and living to discover who we are, we are instead supposed to sing, dance, and simply live — while the music is still being played.

The best of both

What if who I truly am is both the guy who journeys while at the same time listening and dancing to life’s music every step of the way?

How can I be “who I truly am?”

I’m experimenting with this idea of incorporating both the journey and the music in my every day schedule.

For example: I focus my mornings on the journey with the end goal of making the best community I can for people who want to deepen their bucket list. Then I set aside my afternoons on the music to just wander around listening and dancing (figuratively) wherever I happen to be living.

What are your thoughts?

I’d love to hear about your experience being who you truly are. Please contribute to the “Comments” section below.

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