Tag Archives: authenticity

The Inner Oracle

Know thyself.

This ancient advice is at the heart of every sacred belief system known to man. Knowing thyself – self-truth. This is the basis, the deep-rooted foundation of living an authentic life.

So, the first agreement must be this: know your own mind. Know your own heart. Know the content of your soul.

It’s a simple and profound truth: accept yourself.

And yet, how many people do you know that lead lives of self-delusion? Or, they’re stuck in jobsmarriagesrelationshipslives they don’t love? Maybe you’re in that space, too? Lord knows I’ve been there. In fact, I think most move in and out of authentic living. We’re constantly searching, seeking, surviving. Maybe we get caught up in other people’s dreams for our lives. Parents, teachers, bosses, spouses, friends, pastors, gurus…a lot of people thin they know what and how our lives should be. I’ve been there, too. We all have.

I can think of two profound times when I said “yes” and “I do” when I should never have uttered those words. In fact, I recall knowing that those decisions were completely wrong for me…and yet I went ahead anyway. In both scenarios I was ripping off others and myself. I was never “all-in”. I did a good job of making the most of both situations, but there was a lack of integrity at the core – and neither lasted. Both were based on “should”.

I should want this job. I should want this relationship…

Second agreement: There are no shoulds in an authentic life.

Survival is fraught with the word should. We do things because we think that’s our only choice. We get stuck in a job we hate because the rent has got to be paid. We stay in bad marriages because we don’t want to be lonely or give up security or we’ll hurt the kids, or whatever the excuse is. Those are big things, but survival is dripping with myriad small situations in which we don’t tell the truth in order to simply get along. The little lies mount and gather a kind of heavy gravity that pulls our souls into the basement. Pretty soon we’re stuck down there with all the ghosts of lives we never led.

It takes courage to say “no” to survival, and “yes” to an authentic life. It takes courage to leave your job to start a business. It takes monumental courage to transform a marriage. It even takes courage to say “no” to hanging out with relatives you don’t really want to be around during the holidays. It takes courage to say “yes” to carving out 20 minutes a day to meditate, write or do something you enjoy – especially when you have a husband/wife/SO/kids clamoring for the undivided attention you normally provide at their demand. It takes courage to upset the apple cart.

Third rule: Authenticity requires saying “no” to survival and “yes” to life.

This is a start. Maybe I’m going down the wrong track here, but it doesn’t feel like it’s wrong. Next post I’ll go deeper into this. I think the surface has only been scratched.

The Insidious Art of Self-Betrayal

When I was in college I had a friend who had a friend (call him Joe) who was going to UCLA. He was pre-Med. His grandfather, father, and older brothers all preceded him – they went to UCLA, graduated from medical school, became doctors. Plus, during their school years none received less than an “A” in any class. With brilliance and perfection, they successfully navigated the life path that was set before them.

Joe was following in those mighty footsteps. That is, until his Senior year when he received a “B” in one of his classes. Distraught and unable to face his father and brothers with the blemish on the family record, Joe bought a gun and put a bullet between his ears.

While this is tragic enough, the story is even sadder – Joe didn’t even want to be a doctor.

A gifted illustrator, Joe wanted to be an artist.

While this is an extreme example, how many of us betray our true path in life? How often do we co-opt a dream to satisfy some external pressure or expectation? How often do we lay down our life for the sake of pleasing someone else?

I’m not talking about the courage of a soldier sacrificing his life so others might live – that’s heroic and different.

There is nothing heroic about forfeiting natural gifts, or the plan associated with those gifts, so that others might be pleased.

Obviously there are practical concerns. We all need to take care of our families, meet obligations, earn a living. That’s good. But, depending on the survey, 50-75% of the workforce either hate their job or are looking for something new.

If we’re working for a paycheck, then we also should be seeking our true calling – especially if we hate the job we’re in! The problem is that we often do not know the true nature of our calling.

In the first section of my book (shameless plug) I have an exercise that’s helpful in seeking out and identifying our calling. It focuses on the stuff we enjoy doing, we’re interested in doing, and that we’d do for free. Quite often you can take on your calling while you still work to pay the mortgage. All you have to do is give yourself permission to move forward.

Moving forward – isn’t that a big part of an authentic life?

I wish my buddy’s friend at UCLA would have given himself permission to not be a doctor, to pursue his art. And, I’ve met so many people who carry something dead inside because they aren’t living their calling. Maybe it’s time to take a deep breath and quit betraying themselves.

 

 

Be Bold

I was blessed at an early age to have received encouragement from some great teachers in and out of school. My English teachers in high school (Jack McNaughton, Mal Mackey, Ron Schmidt, Linda Spinelli) helped me to cultivate imagination and instilled in me a desire to seek freedom through putting words on paper.

Concurrently, a family friend, Richard King, would read my stuff and compare my work to Rod Serling. Richard was a professional songwriter with some serious chops, so I took him seriously – and was thrilled by the comparison.

I wanted to be the next Stephen King.

So I spent the next ten years writing bad horror. Short stories and a couple of novels. I collected rejection slips and shared complaints with writer friends about how editors worldwide needed to visit their local optometrists because they seriously lacked vision.

Then I began a long journey of writing ad copy, marketing communications, magazine articles, newspaper columns – business writing paid the bills. I also dabbled with different styles. During my late 20’s and 30’s I read a lot of Ernest Effing Hemingway, Jack Kerouac and William Gibson. My writing improved, but still wasn’t where I wanted it. Something was missing.

More years passed and, while in the process of learning about ADD, something clicked. I began writing differently. I went deeper into my soul. I actually thought what I was writing – whatever it was – was beginning to read differently.

I’d found my voice.

The first half of my writing life I spent imitating those writers I read and admired. In the tradition of master-apprentice I copied what they did, applied their techniques and styles, and created imitations of their work. When I finally let them go I discovered that hidden beneath their technique was a clear and persistent voice that belonged only to me.

It wasn’t conscious. It simply was.

The more I wrote, the more pronounced it became. Freedom was at-hand.

There is something bold and liberating about sliding into your authenticity as a writer or whatever kind of Creative Type you may be.  Just let it go and the flow will find you.

Let it go and Be Bold. No matter what, your authentic voice is what’s important. Look for it. Care for it. Give it free reign. There is nothing more satisfying.

I owe a great debt of gratitude to my teachers for giving me such freedom at an early age. They helped me to stretch and explore, and then guided me in helping me give my chaos form. That’s the essence of the creative process.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my teachers these past few weeks. Just want to give credit to Jack, Mal, Ron and Linda. They helped me set sail on a lifelong quest to give expression to my soul, and not be fearful of spilling blood on the page.