A couple of years ago I attended a workshop with Mark Nepo in Southern California. (If you don’t know who he is look him up and if you decide to read his writings, hang on to your bootstraps!) At the end of that powerful weekend Mark asked us to say just one word we wanted to carry with us as we walked back into the world. My word was “authentic”.
I would love to tell you that from that day forward I became my authentic self, floating through life unattached to any sort of envy or self-doubt. Such is not the case. But the word “authentic” has become deeply rooted in my mental/emotional/spiritual file cabinet. It is the word I go to when I want to escape a social gathering or am asked to introduce myself at a Meet-Up group. It has become my band-aid when I’ve set out to accomplish something phenomenal that instead ends up quite ordinary. AND…..it’s the word that quite honestly scares the ba-gee-bees out of me!
I have spent a life time being anything but ME. I mean anything but operating from the core of my beautiful unique being….the place where only Love dwells. They say we are most like the image of God up until the age of 3. From that point on we begin to become what we hear and see. All the messages begin to clothe us until that image in the mirror resembles a conglomeration of unknown faces. As we grow further from our core, our True-self, we begin to operate from a place of fear rather than love. Think back to decisions you’ve made based on fear. I married young the first time for fear that I’d never be a bride in a white gown. I married again quickly for fear of being left alone. I enrolled in several different college programs for fear of not being admired. I so badly wanted to be valued that I would go to any length to try to be someone other than me. And here is what happened….
I was so busy trying to be someone else that I could no longer hear that still small voice inside me that said, “You are enough! You are beautiful! There is no one else like you. I made you for a purpose. I have a call on your life.” The very voice that was in me when I was born. The same voice that makes a young child giggle at the silliest things; the child who is curious about everything and has a sense of wonder; the child who is mesmerized by a lady bug on a dandelion or the child who never struggles to find love, but IS love. Perhaps that’s why Jesus said, “…become like little children” or Buddha taught, "have a childlike simplicity.” Could it be that our authentic self without all the layers of “baggage" resembles the purity of a child?
So what am I learning? I’m learning that when I operate from my authentic self, others are drawn to me. When I’m not trying to be perfect, others are comfortable around me. When I can laugh at my mistakes, my weaknesses, and even my accomplishments, my life becomes so much more fulfilling. It is in my authenticity where my narcissism vanishes, and I think more about you than I do about myself. That’s what Love does.
And how do I know when I’m being authentic? I feel totally free and I actually really love who I was created to be. There is a Knowing deep within my being, that place of Love….where all is well. I wish I were “there" at all times, but old habits don’t die easily. I still have times of insecurity, of comparing myself to others, and living out of fear rather than Love. (Just ask Larry.) Yes, growing pains are difficult, but the alternative is to remain in a state of discontent and missing life.
So as I headed for the airport after my weekend workshop with Mark Nepo, I stopped in the little town of San Juan Capistrano to kill some time. I’m not much of a shopper usually, but I decided to set my goal on finding something to take home that would remind me of my weekend of awakening. I’m not sure if I found it, or it found me, but when we met, I knew we belonged together…….a bracelet with a bead that read, "Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing”. May it be so!