Versão em Português
“Be who you are meant to be and you will set the world on fire.”
If you’ve ever experienced the feeling of being in tune with your deeper life project you will understand how much truth there is in this quote by Catherine of Siena. Some of us don’t ever come to understand what our purpose in life really is, because this kind of realisation requires a great deal of self observation, self honesty and courage to act in accordance to our inner aspirations. Not everyone likes the idea of facing the depths of self; and not everyone fancies the risks of the uncertain paths of creative living. For my part, I believe that a good degree of self awareness and courage to create one’s own destiny by taking risks and making (often difficult) decisions are two of the few things actually needed to be able to lead a good and worthwhile life.
Going back to de Siena’s quote, which is likely to be an adaptation of “If you are what you should be, you will set all of Italy ablaze!” (Letter T368), I’d go further to say that this fire that “ignites the world” stems from the incandenscence of the self-actualised being. In this process, “self” itself is “set alight”. Thinking in terms of energy fields, the sensation can even be physically felt: when you’re doing what you love doing and what you were born to do, your whole being trembles in excitement, as if it were on fire, but in a controlled, constructive and productive way. You feel lucid, tireless, aware and empowered. You feel the positive impact of your righteous actions on others and on your surroundings, and you are given great, unsolicited feedback. It is a most rewarding experience and when it happens, you know you’re on the right track to becoming happier as you move forward.
I am not a Catholic nor a believer in institutional sainthood, but this does not diminish the truthfulness of what de Siena said. It resonates with the psychological concept of self-actualisation and with the spiritual concept of self-realisation. Most importantly, it can be easily verified by lived experience.
It’s important to say that a life project is not necessarily a grandiose, notable enterprise. It can be something completely anonymous and simple, like being a good mother to your child. But in every case, it involves becoming someone better and helping others to do the same, in however small a scale it may be. There can be no genuine fulfilment in selfish or purely materialistic pursuits.
The unmistakable signs that you are accomplishing your mission in life – or living a good, worthwhile life – are peaceful contentment, a growing joy of living, and a need to share the love you feel with fellow living beings. There is a great, perennial source of Life, Wisdom, Love and Joy that surpasses our individual personalities and connects us all. Our mission, whatever shape or size it may have, will always involve clearing our inner channels to allow these divine waters to flow freely through ourselves towards the others.
This is why the most powerful change that one can make is the change in one’s own self. Getting rid of everything that diminishes and divides us – fear, doubt, hatred, intolerance, arrogance – and nurturing our higher selves – our ability to love, to trust, understand and care -, both in ourselves and in others, are the two keys to becoming who you are meant to be. And to set the world – yourself included – on an irresistible and captivating fire.
Image: Eternal Annexation (Rassouli)