The simplicity of it is what makes it so confusing. Finding your truth means to identify your values and live by them. Finding your truth happens by living life and being present, aware and mindful of every day events. Being self-aware, being an observer of your own actions and reactions, drives the search inward until you hit upon your unwavering truths. They are there. They are what propels you forward on your path even in your unconscious sleepwalking through life. What makes finding ‘it’ and living ‘it’ so difficult?
We grow up with parents and siblings that have their ideas about which values are important. We go to school and we work in organizations that have their ideas about the way life should work. It is easy to take on these values, these truths, societal rules, and role expectations without questioning them. Often we grow up with a sense of uneasiness around people or organizations in authority over us and we aren’t even sure why it’s happening. What would we change or replace if we did identify the source of the negative feelings.
Life is such an interesting word. The definition seems to perfectly fit into the theme of this article.
“Life is the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.”
That phrase describing life as a, “continual change preceding death” is so thought-provoking in the sense that humans resist change, complain about it and get stressed out about it when there is the slightest realization that it is actually happening. Much of our life is consumed by growth and change with little to no awareness about it as a natural life force. It is like it is happening to us instead of with us or by our own volition. We live more like the ‘inorganic matter’ mentioned in the definition than with any sense of awe and adventure for the gift of life that we have been given.
Somewhere in the midst of all this unconscious living, we often experience an event, a moment that awakens us from the automaticity of our lives and shows us that the need to be mindful, present and the author of our growth, action and change. Through yoga, meditation, reading and listening to my heroes in waging this war against unconscious living like Pema Chodron, Richard Rohr, Brene Brown, Eckhart Tolle, Oprah Winfrey and Mother Teresa, I have become more adept at observing myself in these activities over the years. This has increased exponentially after losing my father unexpectedly to a massive heart attack a year ago, after losing my only sibling a year and a half before that.
As humans, we go through an experience or life event, like the loss of a job, death of a loved one or the ending of a relationship. It seemingly turns our lives upside down, most often causing us to change our perspective on things or see things differently than we once did. Suddenly those trendy life quotes worthy of an eye roll that we see on social media, t-shirts, posters and tattoos take on a whole new meaning and fit as a way to describe a thought, feeling or fresh viewpoint.
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass… It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” -Vivian Greene
I have done a lot of soul searching through this journey called life. Most of this soul searching seemed like it was thrust upon me given events that have changed my life when I wasn’t expecting them and certainly not welcoming them. “If it’s not broken, why fix it?” Humans tend to want to pretend that living a life they would describe as ‘decent’ or ‘not terrible’ is better than experiencing the joys and pains that go with becoming self-aware and truthfulness about the state of their lives. Finding your truth and living it with 100% responsibility for it is hard and takes work and most of us would rather avoid it at all costs. As a whole, society has gotten so good at finding ways around pain. Brene Brown said in her recent book Dare To Lead,
“If we take the edge off pain and discomfort, we are, by default, taking the edge off joy, love, belonging, and other emotions that give meaning to our lives.” pg 85
The deaths of two family members that were so instrumental in forming the framework for my attitudes and beliefs early in life have also been the very thing that has been the catalyst for the destruction of that framework. As difficult as it has been, I am grateful that I have been given the opportunity to take inventory of what has been working for me and what has not been working for me. I have examined my strengths and considered my weaknesses. I have made choices in my life that turned out to be not so wise as well as some that have been the greatest impetus for change and transformation. I have discovered that there were many thoughts and feelings that I had held onto since childhood that were no longer serving me. I have uncovered some deeply imbedded patterns, ways of being with myself and others, that have been the cause of much frustration and anger. I can see the need for a fresh vantage point. I have a deep desire to consider things from a new angle. And yet, the patterns are so automatic and ingrained that it seems like it is just the way it should be. It is easier to keep things the same. These patterns are comforting and familiar. And still, it is somehow more painful to stay the same, trying to demand that the same ways of being generate a new or different desired outcome. Death has a way of making the transition happen where it never would have otherwise. To engage in the dance with grief has emboldened me to work on my weaknesses, my fears, the ways of being that are holding me back from truly enjoying my life to the fullest. This seems to be a byproduct of understanding that living with the “I’ll get to that” or “I’ll do that later” isn’t an option in living a life as an opportunity or possibility because ‘someday’ or ‘later’ may never happen.
I have created being curious and trusting my intuition to be more powerful ways of being in the world then letting my fears run me. It is true that sometimes being curious and trusting my intuition have not resulted in a favorable outcome. The lessons I have learned have been far more fruitful than being safe and resistant to change or trying new things. Numbing my pain and discomfort with myself and my circumstances have proven time and again to result in the opposite of how I want my life to feel. I want to feel the joy of dancing in the rain, the freedom to make that first impression unforgettable and to recount the life in my years that I created with pride. My hope for others is that they don’t wait for a tragedy to impose this awakening. But, if it is an event such as death (person, job, relationship) that it can be used in a positive way to find your truth and create the life that is truly worth living every moment.