I read the news reports today that J.D. Salinger died.  I read it while I was visiting my 87 year old father for a few days.  Already I was in a state of personal reflection on my youth and the influences that worked to mold me to the person that I am today.   Salinger’s death furthered that train of thought within me.

Although I read a lot, I don’t read a lot of fiction.  Interestingly, I was drawn to re-read “The Catcher in the Rye” a couple of years ago…..I really don’t know why as it was certainly out of the realm of what I generally read, even for fiction…..but I did.  I guess I saw a bit of Holden Caulfield in me….the rebellious youth pushing against the upbringing, the parents, the culture….

I had an interesting mixture of conformity and rebellion in me.  A part of me wanted to be accepted and loved and to fit in.  Another part of me wanted to toss all my past away and distance myself from it as much as humanly possible.  A weird yin-yang balance.

This strange mixture led to me conforming by marrying early, having children, being responsible, keeping a steady job and ensuring the success of my family.  Yet I rebelled by moving across the country from my parents and pursuing spiritual paths and beliefs distant from their worldview.

As I have gotten older and hopefully a bit wiser, I have begun to better understand the beauty in how my youth served me, how this push-pull of forces was exactly what was needed to bring me to the person I am today.  And, I have released the need to “push against” anything.  I have learned that the energy of such rebellion only serves to grow more of that which we rebel against in our lives.  I have come to peace with my upbringing and grown to see the perfection in it.  I have surrendered to life and have learned to move with it….and life has continued to be a real joy.

It’s interesting to read the news about Salinger and how it appears that he continued to push against life as he aged…hard not to draw a parallel between the  iconic  character of rebellion he created in Holden and the growth of Salinger’s warring with life as he fought so hard to maintain his privacy….to be clear, I am not saying that he didn’t deserve his privacy, he certainly did….but the news reports and legal battles that he undertook to keep him out of the public eye only served to move him into it, and in an increasingly unfavorable way….what he battled against, he grew.

So, what is the message for us today?  Come to peace with our past.  Surrender to its gifts.  Stop pushing against what you don’t want and rather turn your focus and energy in the direction of that which you do.  Where is your direction taking you?

Mark Gilbert

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Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!