I like to write and I like to paint. I like to take photos and critique food. Yet, I’m not a writer or a painter or a photographer or a food critic. I am me. Don’t reduce me to my hobbies. They are only and always will be external to me. That is Middos 101.
This state of mind, that allows people’s self concept to be pinned on their externalities, or worse, their hobbies, is quite frightening. It is a reflection of the societies we live in. Society says “develop your looks, your hobbies, your possessions – then you can be fulfilling who you are”. In actuality all this does is create confusion and a diffusion of our inner-self, our true self. It is taking, not giving.
Our true selves are the things that no one can take away. Even in the deepest darkest depths of the holocaust those that survived mentally were often those that knew who they were and knew that no matter how much can be taken away from them, it is not them that is taken away. When you define yourself by externalities you open yourself up to much pain – for externalities can always be taken away, destroyed, forbidden. Your inner self, your soul, cannot be.
The soul is eternal. Our bodies, our possessions, are a fleeting experience of this world. What you do with your soul is what matters in this world. When you overcome your inner temptations and use your light to ignite the flames of others – to draw the curtain that hides their souls – that is what matters – to create more free willed, free thinking, passionate, respectful, light giving human beings.