I’m always on the lookout for some good life advice, and I found it this week from two rather unlikely sources.
The first gem was from 90 year old homosexual wit and literati Quentin Crisp (now deceased). I was watching a bit of online TV, as you do when you don’t have an actual television, and stumbled across An Englishmen in New York on ABC. It’s a film of the later part of Quentin Crisp’s life, there is also a film about his earlier years called the Naked Civil Servant. Crisp is an extraordinary character by anyone’s measure: as a young man in conservative 1930’s London he would walk the streets with dyed hair and makeup, often getting beaten up for his troubles. Crisp’s greatest act of courage and defiance in life was simply to be himself. He dared to be openly homosexual in an era where there were no Gay Pride marches and no gay bars. His telephone number was always unlisted and his openness with strangers is legendary. He parlayed this willingness to engage with othes into a series of successful one-man shows, where he would answer questions from the audience. The quote below is a sample from his last show in America, when he was 90 years old:
“Persistence is your greatest weapon. It is in the nature of barriers that they fall. Do not seek to become like your opponents. You’ll have the burden and the great joy of being outsiders. Every day you live is a kind of triumph. This you should cling on to. You should make no effort to try and join society. Stay right where you are. Give your name and serial number and wait for society to form itself around you because it most certainly will. Neither look forward where there is doubt nor backward where there is regret. Look inward and ask not if there is anything outside that you want but whether there is anything inside you have not yet unpacked.”
Quentin Crisp (An Englishman in New York)
The other piece of life advice I came across as I was flipping through an old Cleo magazine in the lunch room. There was an article about supermodel Gisele Bundchen and in it they quoted her as saying this:
‘The more you trust your intuition, the more empowered you become, the stronger you become, and the happier you become. Wishing to be something you’re not is the biggest recipe for a sad life. All of us are special. All you have to have is a dream, and then you make it happen.
Two very different sources, but essentially saying the same things. Don’t waste time in life trying to be someone other than who you are. It is only by being yourself that you will ever find happiness and satisfaction in life. Hold fast to the truth inside you, and trust yourself, always. And if you don’t believe the old queen and the supermodel, at least take note of the packaging from my cereal box: