Skip to content

Self Awareness is Underrated

CJ Chilvers
CJ Chilvers
1 min read

Of all the "Letters of Note" I've read, none of have come closer to my world view of than this one from H.L. Menken in 1931:

"I go on working for the same reason that a hen goes on laying eggs.
The precise form of an individual’s activity is determined, of course, by the equipment with which he came into the world. In other words, it is determined by his heredity. I do not lay eggs, as a hen does, because I was born without any equipment for it. For the same reason I do not get myself elected to Congress, or play the violoncello, or teach metaphysics in a college, or work in a steel mill. What I do is simply what lies easiest to my hand. It happens that I was born with an intense and insatiable interest in ideas, and thus like to play with them. It happens also that I was born with rather more than the average facility for putting them into words. In consequence, I am a writer and editor, which is to say, a dealer in them and concoctor of them. any other realtively poor man, I have longed to make a lot of money by some easy swindle. But I became a writer all the same, and shall remain one until the end of the chapter, just as a cow goes on giving milk all her life, even though what appears to be her self-interest urges her to give gin.
What the meaning of human life may be I don’t know: I incline to suspect that it has none. All I know about it is that, to me at least, it is very amusing while it lasts."

The whole letter is worth a read. Self awareness is an underrated trait. Without having the proper foundation of realizing who you are, making changes in your life is like (paraphrasing David Allen) putting the ladder you're climbing on the wrong wall.