Here’s something I have been considering for about 4 years now (no joke, I take my time). Every single act we perform, every single choice we make, every single second of every single day, defines who we are. Our bodies, external and internal, our souls, our minds, everything about us, is a story unfolding.

As humans, certain elements of ourselves must be maintained in order to not just survive, but to thrive. We need sustenance. We need physical conditioning. We need mental and spiritual stimulation.

We, however, decide what means we use to meet these needs.

I’ll give some context. At the end of my junior year of college, my sister and I had a conversation that revolved around what we believed to be the best way to take care of our bodies, namely in regards to exercise.

We attended college near Sacramento, so it was a pretty metropolitan area and crossfit was just kind of starting to really make a rise in popularity. Basically the conversation turned to one in which we discussed how each of us had the power to choose what we would let shape us, literally shape us. While so many of our compadres were pursuing crossfit, pilates, weight training, etc., she and I both felt drawn to running (if you knew me in high school, you’d think this was pretty weird). And one of the reasons for it, as we discussed, was that by pursuing more outdoorsy type activities, we were letting the land shape us, not some piece of machinery.  

What can I say? Deep down, we are kind of total hippies…but we were born in the mountains, so sue me.

Now, this is not actually a post about the merits of outdoor activity versus working out in a gym or in the comfort of one’s home. I think it’s great for people to find a method of conditioning their bodies that fits their lifestyle and their preferences, because no matter what, being active is absolutely beneficial to our health. It stimulates our organs to enhance their performance even during periods of rest, as well as providing many other physical and mental health benefits.

The fact of the matter is that in many cases, any one kind of exercise you choose to employ, if employed regularly, will often yield very similar results to that of another method of exercise. Essentially (and do not quote me on this), all roads lead to the same destination.

My point is that the same can be said for many other aspects of our lives, as our physical body is just one part of who we are. As I mentioned before, aside from physical conditioning, we also need sustenance and mental/spiritual stimulation, in order to truly thrive. Just like exercise, we decide what shapes these areas of our lives. We each choose our own path.

We all seek success. We all desire recognition. Our definitions of success and recognition may look different from person to person, but we are all trying to get there in one way or another. And many of us will. But, I believe that there is something to be said about the road we take to make that happen.

There are a lot of people who have achieved success by walking over others, by lying, by cheating, by making it their job to convince somebody that what they have to offer is important, when in the grand scheme of things, it just isn’t. There are also many people who seek recognition and attention by being downright hateful and mean (as an optimist I have to believe that this is purely for shock value and not because people actually mean the nasty things that they say).

But there are also a lot of people who have obtained fame or success in a different way: by staying true to who they are and holding fast to their convictions. By continuously trying to do the right thing, and sometimes failing in that. And by having the cajones to get back up and try again when they do. They achieve success by relying on those closest to them, by seeking help and enacting change locally, by starting the tough conversations (in a civil manner) with the people who are most willing and able to listen and understand, even if they don’t entirely agree, and who actually have the most power to make a tangible difference: family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, etc.

SO, who am I? Who are you? And how will we let our stories unfold?