Living honorably is something that I have had to learn throughout my life. I am very outgoing, energetic and often intense and these character traits often clash with my desire to live my life in such a way that I and others would consider worthy of honor. There is a real temptation to try to “shortcut” when facing challenges – for example doing whatever is expedient at the expense of that which is honest, honorable, imbibed with integrity. Often those with extroverted personality are given to exaggeration or embellishment in order to represent themselves in the best light possible. There is a tendency to cover ones insecurities and negative self-image with boastful claims, thereby living a life with less honor, less honesty, than one should.
For many years I have sought to practice the honorable lifestyle. As a counselor I am keenly aware of my own faults but also aware of my propensity to be overly hard on myself and therefore compensate. I also am blessed/cursed with a keen sense of introspection and often spend hours every week analyzing how I am doing, how I am coping, whether I am living my life with integrity and honor. When I was young my mantra was, “I am going to change the world.” The older I get the more I realize that changing the world begins with changing myself from the inside out. Being honorable is not about looking good but rather about being good. As I have often said, “It’s one thing to talk the talk, it’s another thing altogether to walk the walk.”
Eleven years ago I believed my life was on track. I was only a few months from testing for my black belt, was doing fine in my career, had an amazing wife and kids. But a series of misadventures occurred that changed my life forever.
Over the next few years the pain of this loss barely receded and I was forced to look inside myself and question my values, my perceived strengths and weaknesses, and my integrity in general. I realized that I had not been as self-aware as I had imagined and began the difficult task of rebuilding my life. Thus began a decade and more of self-examination and introspection with regard to who I am, how I live, and how I relate to others. I have come to realize that I must strive to live honorable every day, every moment, and not just when others are watching. Honorable living is about who I am when no one is looking, when I am alone with my thoughts, in every aspect of my life.
I have not yet become the man I hope to be someday but am attempting to live in such a way that I can be proud of who I am becoming. It is my desire that someday, on my headstone at the graveyard, someone will be able to etch in – “at least he tried”.