Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Hard to Refine

(This post originally appeared on my Creative Spirit blog in Feb. 2006.)

was reading a post over at The Faithful Alligator earlier today in which the question was posed, "Am I who I am?" She (I'll refer to her at tomzgrrl, as that's the name she uses at her blog) reflects on how she continues to "grow, change and redirect" into the person she is. The point being, I believe, that who we are is always going to be an on-going process. Tomzgrrl uses the word "self-actualized" to describe the product of the process. (I'm not crazy about that word, if only because the Maslowian reference induces unpleasant flashbacks from grad school.)

Still, all this seems to fit right in with my current introspective, taking-account-of-my-life state. In a comment, I replied, "I I'm trying to *refine* my definition of myself as I launch into the next part of my life's journey. I'm trying to take into account who I've been up to now, keep what has been good, get rid of what isn't working and emphasize that which is truly, deep-down important to me -- all while not worrying about what anyone else thinks..."

After I wrote that, I started thinking about what it means to *refine*. Every time I hear that word, the first thought that comes to mind is the refiner's fire, which acts to extract impurities from metals. There are a lot of references of this sort throughout the Bible, comparing God to a refiner's fire, always being our test and purifier. I so love that imagery.

It's not a romantic thing, to be sure...refining takes time and work and patience and the fire has to be very hot to do its job. (Gold, for instance, melts at 1062 degrees C. and must reach 2000 degrees C. to boil.) If all of the impurities are not refined out of the metal, it can compromise it's strength and ability to fulfill its purpose. So much imagery in all of that!

My friend American Heritage defines the verb "refine" in different ways including: to reduce to a pure state; to become free of impurities; to free from coarse, unsuitable or immoral characteristics; to acquire polish or elegance. Wow. So much meaning for such a little word.

After thinking about all of this, I realize that I'm not just seeking to refine my definition of who I am; I am seeking to refine who I am. Not to recreate who I am. I'm not that unhappy with myself to want to be someone else completely. I simply want to be the me I am now, but I want to be her better. (I feel like I should be part of a BASF commercial.)

Lately, I've become aware of so many little ways (and big ways) I could be doing that. It could become overwhelming if I let it. But, like so many things when change is needed, it's probably best to start with one small corner, make a difference there and then move on to the next instead of trying to tackle it all at once. Lather, rinse, repeat. I feel like I've already begun the process. So...what corner of my life to tackle next?