Like all of us, Shakespeare’s Polonius had his flaws; if not, then he wouldn’t have been human. Nonetheless, the advice he gave was poignant and true: “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.”
There is no selfish guile hidden within this statement. It does not say: lie to others to get your way, manipulate to control, or use people to fill one’s void. Those methods, although wildly prominent in today’s world, are all indicative of one being false not only to others, but – to themselves. Like fragile threads that snap and unravel easily, it is that falsehood that is breaking down the fabric of society. We no longer have a tight weave holding us together. We are no longer blanketed in integrity. Instead, the fabric of mankind is growing a wee bit thin.
We are of no value to anyone; our words shallow, our actions empty if we do not first work to be true to the one controlling the actions – ourself. Dropping the guise within is often a painful process. Falsehoods prevent emotional expansion. Whereas recognizing one’s good and one’s bad, our hidden truths, opens the door to the soul. There is something divinely liberating when one works never to deceive themselves. Generally, such a truth, functions like a conduit through which full acceptance is found.
Like pulling on the oxygen mask when the plane is plummeting, taking care of one’s self is the only way to truly take care of others. We must first fill our lungs with truth and life-giving oxygen if we are to be of any value to any one else. When we carve out time to meditate and rebalance our soul, when we form an honest union with the self that lives within, we are also ensuring that the thread we weave into the fabric of mankind is one that is strong and lasting.
A thin metallic thread may enhance the appearance of the fabric, but once tugged, it quickly snaps. We all offer a thread that is entwined with others. It is formed from within, then as we touch the lives of those around us it weaves with theirs. It is important then that we think about our thread. Before it sweeps out into the world it should be strong. Others may, one day, need to count on its strength. But more so, it defines who we are. It is our self, extended outward. We should be able to look within without shame, guilt or insecurity. I do not look within with a critical eye. I look with an honest one. I embrace my flaws. I embrace my strengths. I accept this person that is me. And by doing so, I more easily accept others.
It isn’t easy being true to self. Coming to terms with one’s primal emotions and fears is not an easy task. But there is something beatific within doing so. And once done, that truth is the oxygen mask that is often placed on others during their worst moments. I find it very difficult to use another. When I am false to someone, I am in no uncertain terms also being false to my self. There is a thread that connects the two. We can run from it. We can deny it. We can turn a blind eye to it. But the thread remains. So, tend to your thread. And to thine own’s self be true.