The Highest Version Of Ourself

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The Highest Version Of Ourself (2016) — Dawn always breaks upon what is often the disparaging souls of mankind, and yet, in the stretching out of those early rays of light there cries out a sorrowful call, a longing to the one who dares to be in that moment, the highest version of one’s self.

“Be like me,” the neighbour in the big home driving the Mercedes Benz said as he passed by, “for I am successful and wealthier than you.”

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Smiling reflectively the quickened soul thought to himself, 0thers may… I cannot.

“What about me?” The Salvation Army officer bellowed as he stood on the street corner beside his half-full red kettle diligently shaking his bells. “I am a man of God helping the hungry and bringing righteousness to a dark world.”

Eyes set forward, capturing a horizon out of reach of the officer, the guarded soul whispered quietly, “Sorry friend, others may, I cannot.”

“What about me sugar, I’ll put a spring in your step”, taunted the scantily clad lady at the corner as she leaned far forward revealing what she believed to be her greatest assets.

Recognizing her value as a person, the grateful soul smiled at her and without stopping uttered so respectfully, “Others may, I cannot.”

“Hey, we’ve been pals for years, why not follow my suggestions?” The childhood friend queried.

“What you need is higher education,” the professor who stood half stooped over, heavily laden with years of bantered theories and educational training.

Keenly aware of how lost this professor truly was in other people’s understandings, the empathetic soul pressed forward rehearsing the words, “Others may, I cannot.”

“Hey YOU!  I’m a police officer, and I can do just about anything I want without anyone being able to say anything about it, why not be more like me?”

Saddened by the obscure vision the police officer held for himself, the disheartened soul pressed on respectfully saying, “Others may, I cannot.”

“I’m a former Mayor who has lead a great many people and guided this fair city, why not be more like me?”

Shaking his head, the dispirited soul pressed on casting an eye back to the former Mayor seeing only the once hoped for potential for greatness, spoiled by the cancer of personal compromise.  Silently he thought, “Others may, I cannot.”

“Son,” the words of the pastor reached out, “I have guided the hearts of this community every Sunday for years from this same pulpit, why not lift your sights to be more like me?”

Pressing on, the pilgrim’s soul filled with sorrow, as the sermon hidden deep in the preacher’s words revealed how lost the preacher doubtlessly was to his true calling.  “Others may, I cannot!”

“What about me?”  A woman beckoned.  “I’m a good Christian woman, why not be more like me.”

Shaking his head the quickened soul pressed on.

Pressing on, the quickened soul soon came to a place where city roads gave way to country roads, which in turn gave way to dirt paths.  It was then he noticed he no longer walked alone.

Looking to each side of him, he noticed those who walked the same path as he, but did so in silence – their faces heavy with wrinkles worn deep by the peer pressures of their worlds.

“Won’t any of you ask me to be more like you, or do your bidding?”  The quickened soul kept pressing forward as he queried those around him.  “What about you sir? Or you ma’am?”

A little old lady raised her crippled finger and motioned him to walk on.

As the small group pressed on, the quickened soul couldn’t help but notice the group growing smaller over time.  Finally, as one man stopped, and began to sit down, the quickened soul placed a hand on the old man’s shoulder and said, “Yes this is good spot to rest.  We can wait here a while and when you are ready we can press on together.”

Shaking his head in disagreement, the old man smiled and said, “Your life journey isn’t over son, and while you have come so far, you still do not understand.”

As the old man’s words grew weak, the quickened soul leaned in to hear every word.

“Our journey’s have run side by side for awhile, but each of us in this life is on our own journey.  Each of us has been born to arrive at one destination.  For me this is my destination, and look at the splendour that reaches across my horizon.”  Gently the old man waved his hand across in front of him, his eyes glazed with age and years.

Turning to look on every side, the quickened soul could only see rocky trails, heavy forest, and mud filled fields.

“It’s beautiful isn’t it, and oh so peaceful here.  This is my destination, but it is not yours, for you must press on.”  The old man whispered now in a softening tone.

“Press on to where?” The quickened soul asked.  “I have been walking forward, stumbling, tripping, falling, scraping my knees as I journey, but still I do not know my destination.”

“In life, when you’re through with changing, you’re through.”

The Highest Version Of Ourself – The Journey

Nodding his head appreciatively, the old man motioned the quickened soul close to him.  “In this life son, we all have but one purpose, and when we fail to walk through life fulfilling that purpose we fail not only ourselves but the world around us, for each of us is a small piece of a greater masterpiece.”  The old man paused to take a few deep breaths.  “We have one purpose in this life, and while that purpose has been called many things from our life purpose to higher learning to spiritual enlightenment, or some in the religious community  refer to it as ‘God’s purpose’, these are all one in the same.”

The quickened soul leaned in further realizing he was now hearing words no one else had spoken along his life’s trail.  “There have been many along the way, who have called me to be like them.”

“Ah, yes,” the old man nodded, “I have heard them too.  The successful businessman who failed to realize everything he had was temporary, and history would never remember him for his money or accumulations.  The religious leaders who through their boastful expressions demonstrate a failed understanding of who and how they are to serve.  The prostitute who sells a piece of her soul with every transaction.  The police officer who fails to realize his professional integrity sets society’s bar of understanding as to what justice is. The Christian woman who through her boastful expression exemplifies the worst of her kind.  The well educated professor so laddened down with other people’s theories and principles that he has forgotten how to think for himself.  The former Mayor who never truly grasped a real understanding of personal leadership.”

Tugging now on the sleeve of the quickened soul, the old man went on.  “Their journey is not your own.  They have chosen to stop along the side of their path well before their destination.  Learn from them for they have chosen to accept something far less than the highest version of their own self.  In life, when you’re through with changing, you’re through.”


The Highest Version Of Our Self Calls Us To Change

“Like them,” the old man went on, “You will have the opportunity to stop short, deviate from your path, or pause too long.  Don’t get hung up on the mistakes along the way, allow them to motivate you to move on.  There will be consequences, but look upon those lessons as life’s motivators calling you back on course.  The higher you go son, the longer your journey, and at times you will get tired.  There will be temptations wanting to pull you aside, so the higher you go the greater your commitment must be to the path ahead.  The higher you go, the lonelier it will be, but look back from time to time, for you will discover that even in your loneliness the number of people who follow you will naturally grow.  The higher you go, the greater your personal growth will be – never fear change.  The highest version of ourself can only be attained through a willingness to embrace change.  Never worry about what others might think of you.  How others see you does not define you, the integrity you show in the quiet lonely moments is what defines you. It is your legacy.”

Pushing the quickened soul away, the old man smiled, “Go…grow forward…climb higher.”

Standing straight and looking ahead, there was a pondering wish in the quickened soul to linger longer with this old man, but as he glanced back his heart sank for the old man’s face had now grown expressionless.  The air that once filled the old man’s lungs was now still, and his eyes had fallen shut forever.   In the back of the quickened soul’s mind were the old man’s final words, “Go…grow forward…climb higher.”


The path to the highest version of ourself promises to be lonely, rarely understood by others, but none the less the journey we are meant to take.


“The Highest Version of Ourself” is written by — James C. Tanner

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