how to be someone

I have been reading Ken Robinson's book The Element, inbetween the times when my daughter is reading it. Your "element" is the thing you love best to do, the expression of your true inner spirit. It's an encouraging book, and the part I liked most was towards the end when Ken argued that you don't have to make a big career out of your Element. It doesn't have to be the key to financial success. The most important thing is to find what you love and do it when you want, how you want, so that you'll really enjoy living.

And then I found an interview with musician Sea Oleena in which she talks about how she incorporates what I suppose would be her Element (music) into her life ...

"I don’t think of music as my career. I have a job in a cafe and I live comfortably between that and my musical income right now, but I don’t plan on dedicating my life to being a musician and going on tours and turning myself into something." 

She isn't  something.

She is someone.

And it's the same for every person. Rich or poor, famous or quietly tucked away in a corner of the world, we are all someone. Every single one of us is vitally important, simply due to the fact we are alive.

Unfortunately, modern Western culture teaches us that our value is in what we produce, and especially when that can be calculated in monetary terms. Bill Gates makes newspaper headlines when he gives away some of his fortune. Where are the headlines about mothers sick with flu whose loving devotion sees them singing their children to sleep at night, even though their throats ache? Or the front page articles about fathers whose gentleness guides their children to being kind and decent citizens?

Sea Oleena may be seen as weird by many because she isn't making the best of her talent. She gives it away to people for whatever they can afford to pay. We are encouraged to use ourselves as resources to gain success, whether that be wealth or fame, so it is a little bewildering to come across a woman of great talent who doesn't have that attitude - who offers what she has, who she is, to the world, just because it's who she is and what she has, not because her talent is a tool to open exciting doors and take her places beyond herself.

I also loved how she responded to the question, "What have you been doing in the two years since the release of your last album?" - a question which echoes the belief that our value lies in our production. Sea said ...

"Driving through the deep south of the states, riding my bike, swimming in rivers, learning how to live in a city, walking in the snow, watching movies, watering my plants, becoming a potter, being happy, being sad, being anxious, reading, meeting amazing people, drinking wine, drinking water, drinking tea, being late for work, taking pictures, cooking, baking bread, getting stoned, playing piano, and sometimes playing guitar."

In other words, she has just got about being herself.

I am saddened to think of all the people out there who are busy doing things in the hope that it will make them into someone. My wish for them is that they would see they are already someone. Maybe understanding that would free them up to be what truly fulfills them.

Not because it will bring in an income.

Not because it will offer a valuable product to the world.

Just to be.


  1. I've always enjoyed Ken Robinson's books. I think I have two. I also have enjoyed his talks.

  2. I love this beautiful Sarah. Thank you for this reminder.

  3. her music and attitude is wonderful, thanks for this introduction.

  4. Yes, yes, yes! I love how you made such an important distinction:

    "She isn't something....She is someone."

    I think it might've been Richard Rohr who said we are so wrapped up in productivity that we are turning into human *doings* and forgetting we are human *beings.* The expression: "make something of yourself" is geared toward this mentality. What a shame, since it's a part of nearly everyone's vocabulary when talking to kids about their futures. Sea Oleena's life example gives me hope.

  5. I need this reminder today, actually multiple times each day. Thank you.

  6. This. Goes right straight to my heart. Thank you.