3. Self-Expression

By Jim Selman

Self-Expression is the third of five declarations made in the Eldering Ceremony.

Self-expression is the true “work” of every human being. It is the thousand ways we let others know who we are and the countless things we do that leave our mark on the world.

Self-expression is a creative act. It is the power and freedom to be ourselves in each moment. It is living an authentic life of action, rather than coping with and reacting to circumstances.

Being fully self-expressed is one of the most unreasonable goals we can commit to—for our world seems organized to shape and bend us into being reasonable, into conforming to our culture’s expectations and norms. Yet it is the capacity to express ourselves that makes us unique, inspires leadership and art, and makes us who we are. As George Bernard Shaw said:

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

As Elders, a profound relationship exists between our capacity to express ourselves authentically and our commitment to being responsible for our communities and our world. When we respond to life with wisdom and maturity (rather than simply reacting to people and circumstances), we are living life creatively.

Take The Self-Expression Challenge

Your life speaks of the courage of being responsible in moments of hardship and difficulty. You have come through those challenges stronger and more compassionate. You have shown others that being responsible is not about assuming or assigning blame. Nor is it about seeking or giving credit. Responsibility is about having a mature and creative relationship with life.

We challenge you to continue expressing yourself to the fullest degree possible at every moment and in every situation. People want your creativity and your commitment to guide and empower them. They want you to be a model as they encounter an increasingly unpredictable future.

Self-expression is a choice. We challenge you to remember that you are the Chooser when you forget.

We ask that you be a teacher and a mentor to others of all ages in the domain of self-expression.

We ask that you stand for the possibility of self-expression throughout life for those who will follow.

Do you accept these challenges and this responsibility as an Elder in our world?

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