Jim Morrison’s father, the late United States Navy rear-admiral George Stephen Morrison, placed a marker on his son’s grave at the Père Lachaise Cemetery which bears the Greek inscription ΚΑΤΑ ΤΟΝ ΔΑΙΜΟΝΑ ΕΑΥΤΟΥ, translated as “true to his own spirit”.
If you know even the slightest details about the life, music and poetry of the Doors lead singer Jim Morrison you understand and appreciate that he lived his life, though reckless as it might have been, “true to his own spirit”. The image he left us with in 1971 is of a young, beautiful and mysterious genius who physically vanished from this earth at the age of 27 while leaving a timeless legacy of music and words for us to savor 45 years later. If Morrison were alive today he would be 72 years old. Can you imagine this myth, this legend as an old man singing “come on baby light my fire” at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas? Me neither.
Morrison’s path and journey were his own. The times, the environment and experiences were unique to him and him alone. As Neil Young sang in “My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue)” Jim Morrison epitomized the line “It’s better to burn out than it is to rust”. This was his “true to his own spirit” life which some will admire and others will scorn, but who are we to judge.
I work every day to correct my course, my “true to his own spirit” direction. I remind myself that the life I have, the one life I have been offered is right here with moments behind me and moments ahead of me. Being true to my spirit seems pretty dull at times and very dull most of the time. It requires the mundane, emptying the dishwasher, folding clothes and mowing the grass. But it also includes the extraordinary, watching the birth of my children. Seeing them grow from helpless creatures that just seemed to poop, throw-up, eat and repeat to smart, loving and caring adults receiving advanced degrees, working, marrying, and maybe one day having children of their own. If I am true to my own spirit I wipe noses and butts, I read “Goodnight Moon” ten thousand times, I stay up until 2 am waiting to see headlights in the driveway, I write college tuition checks and I walk daughters down the aisle.
Being true to your own spirit may not get you a record deal, or even a vacation home on the lake. Fame and fortune will elude the vast majority of us but I wouldn’t trade my true self for either. The rewards are simple, you get to live your dull boring life on your own terms, terms that include living with people you love and care for because their existence is the reason most of our spirits exist in the first place.
“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.” – Carl Jung