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In my more formative years, I spend quite a bit of time in South Asia. If I had have been asked, at that time, why I was travelling to Indonesia, Thailand, etc … I would probably have talked about my quest to learn about the martial arts of those regions. What I was actually embarking on though, was a quest to find myself, a quest to help crystallise my identity.
Young people are all trying to figure out who they are? Such a puzzle marks the transition from teenager into adulthood. Most cultures that I know of, historically had some form of ritual that marked this transition … but in western society (at least in my own case) we are largely left to figure out what those rights of passage might be for ourselves. Challenging, to say the least!
Where are the guidelines for these rights of passage? I propose that they are contained - in their myriad forms - in the various sub-cultures that we expose ourselves to 9or are exposed to), in young adulthood and continually, throughout the course of our lives.
And this brings me to my point, most of us, expose ourselves to a variety of sub-culture groups as we mature - unlike the tribal situations of old, where most people were born, lived and died within their respective groups, in today’s world things are different. The tricky part is that the rights of passage cannot be universally agreed upon (not should they) - the best thing though, is that we always have opportunities for a do-over. We can always choose new friends, surround ourselves with new groups of people, visit other cultures, immerse ourselves in a myriad of forms of learning.
My advice is simple … choose wisely with whom and how you spend your time. As we build ourselves, we don’t chisel away, as with sculpture - we build on, we add and we modify. We should think about the quality of the clay we are using to form the latest (and best) versions of ourselves. And the types of clay available range from the downright toxic, to the marvellously authentic and interesting.
The New Year is as good a time as any to think about the clay we will add in the year to come … so Happy Choosing to each and everyone - as we slide from this year into the next.