15 April 2014

Authenticity (and Saying 'Yes')

A friend sent me an essay that I didn't make time to read until this afternoon. But, as always, the things that got in the way leading up to this afternoon ensured I read it at just the 'right' time. I love how that works... serendipitous and perfect in timing and form.

The piece (by Elle Luna) I read today is all about Should vs Must, and what living these two very different paths looks like. The path of Should is living the life that follows the directions provided outside of us -- following our family's expectations, our friend's advice, society's constructs, our job's rules, etc. It is doing what we are "supposed to" do. Following the rules, coloring within the lines, and living a life that looks good from the outside. Too often, we say yes to Should, and we shrink away from Must. What is Must? It's the path that is born from within ourselves. It's the intuition the burns warm in our bellies, the calling that we feel undeniably pulled to pursue. It is listening from within, instead of listen to opinions/shoulds from the outside. 

Yesterday I wrote about authenticity and what it means to draw boundaries, maintain them, and show up authentically as YOU. I talked about saying 'no' to the demands and requests from the outside that don't feel aligned with what you need and want. Today, inspired by the Should vs Must mentality, I'd like to write about saying 'yes' to the demands and requests that inform/call/guide us from within.

This quote from Joseph Campbell always finds it's way back into my readings, and, not surprisingly, it was in the article I read today...

"Follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before." 

Often times, when I imagine my ideal life - the one I know I am called to live, it looks a lot like running away from my current life. It looks like Moonrise Kingdom... wandering off with a suitcase of books, my favorite outfit, and my kitties. It looks like abandoning everything in my life that doesn't fit my purest desires-- to do good, live a clean, green life, to be a passageway for the transformation of others, to love with non-attachment, to be in nature, to BE bliss.

But as I run away with those thoughts and dreams, I am soon jerked awake by my fears and the barriers to get there (mainly born from the Shoulds). On bad days, I might spiral into the "it's impossible" story and vehemently resent all of the parts and people in my life that hold me back from being that unleashed, flower-crown wearing, inspired, inspiring person that I feel I Must be.  

Yet, per Elle's article, there is something so amazing that I have buried deep under the pile of my doubts and fears: the fact that I can actually make small shifts in my CURRENT life to move towards the path of Must. While I'm living a mostly Should life (corporate job, stable salary with benefits, big apartment with lots of stuff, etc.), I can take small steps towards the Must path, right now. I don't have to sell my furniture and by a carrycase for the cats to begin my journey. It doesn't have to look like running away... it can be shifting towards. Elle says, "Integrate, not obliterate...It's about doing one small thing, anything, to honor our personal truth -- today." WOW! Baby steps, not bungee jump. I can do that!

Of course, the left side of the brain chimes in with questions of money and time. And then there is the huge fear of failure. Of NOT landing on my feet. Of being ridiculed and scoffed at by my friends and family members who "told me so." Of having to start over... But, Elle reminds: although nothing in guaranteed for this journey and the ultimate destination, anything is possible.

You hear that? ANYTHING. ANY LITTLE THING. Any BIG thing. ALL of the THINGS that you can dream up, think of, muse about... it's ALL possible, at the very least. But we aren't going to get there if we don't say 'yes' to Must today. And each day after that. In however small or great a way. 

What is your calling? What do you want to create? Is it a new career, new home, a relationship, a healthier lifestyle? Take A step towards it today. Maybe you...
   - research a new company you're interested in
   - send a note to that professor who inspired you
   - join that dating site you've been "so not about"
   - just buy the journal
   - grab a pamphlet for that surfing lesson or yoga class
   - set up an airfare alert for that trip to Hawaii  
   - start that budget spreadsheet

Get clear. Dig deep. Ask yourself where in your life you are living inauthentically -- living the Should instead of the Must. And then say 'yes' to the little things you can do today to veer off the Should path. Often times, that will require you to also say 'no' to the things that are out of line with your callings, commitments, and integrity.

You have to start somewhere, right?

"The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why." - Mark Twain

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