Creating the authentic life we want starts from the inside out, but if the life we are portraying to the world does not match who we really are, then our lives are not only far from authentic, but we are not living in our truth either. Let me give you an example.
If you have followed either of my blogs or read any of my books you know that I am all about yoga, exercise, long walks, herbal remedies vs pills, and healthy, plant-based eating. One day over the summer I ran into someone at the store that I had not seen for years. We recognized each other at once and a big smile crossed my friend’s face until her eyes traveled to the cane I was leaning on as I walked over to her. She looked from the cane, to my face, and said, “What happened? I thought you had healed from that fall and were back to doing yoga and stuff?” She said that she had been following my blogs all along and knew that I had fractured my left hip four years ago where three pins are now holding things together, but that because I had already been working on myself for some years prior to the accident, I had healed quickly and was even back to doing some gentile yoga. There was something in her voice that seemed to be asking me a different question than the one she said out loud: “Was what you wrote in your blogs about how healthy you are true, or was it just something to impress people?” After we parted company and went on our separate ways, I started asking myself the same question: “Had I been truthful about how I presented myself to the public, to my readers, or was I hiding behind my social media avatar and some clever words?”
We have become a nation of people who live vicariously through the lives of others. One has only to spend a few minutes on Facebook to see that everyone else is living a glorious, prosperous, and exciting life. Not wanting to be left out, we start posting our own fictional accounts of our lives so as not to be thought of as “poor, pitiful me.” It doesn’t matter how much work we’ve done on ourselves, from inner work to outer work, instead of being proud of our accomplishments, we look to see if we’ve managed to measure up yet to the rest of the world … as presented by others who are doing the same thing. Regardless of how much we put into building the authentic lives we want, if we are not living in integrity from the inside out and vice versa, we might as well be writing fairy tales.
What I told my friend that day was that, yes, I had made great progress since my accident and, yes, I was doing very well for a time. However, I only made the decision to take charge of my health at the age of 52. Prior to that, I had led a very sedentary life, was dangerously overweight, smoked like a chimney, and had the eating habits of an 18-year-old. While I managed to rid myself of all those bad habits and adopted a healthier lifestyle, 52 years of abuse were not going to disappear overnight, nor was the wear and tear already done to my body. My inner health was great: blood pressure, weight, cholesterol, bone density, etc., were more than good, according to my doctor. What wasn’t great were my joints which, between the extra weight I carried for so long and the natural wearing down that comes with age, were starting to give out. I was probably going to be looking at repairs or replacements some time in the future. I told her I thought of my body as a house; the inner workings of the house, like the electrical, plumbing and furnace were all working great, but the foundation was crumbling and needed to be shored up!
We all have moments in our lives when we wish we were someone else, or when we have what we perceive as failures that we prefer not to share with the world for fear of being seen as weak or not good enough. The truth is that when we are living in authenticity and integrity, what you see is what you get. We can love and accept ourselves for who and where we are in life, or we can continue to post fictional selfies of fictional selves. I am still proud of the work that I’ve done even though it took me 52 years to get the message. A few new parts aren’t going to change that.
This week over on the Home Page, our writing assignment is going to challenge you to come clean about how you present yourself to the world. Getting real takes courage, and this is your chance to be bold! As always, have fun with this and remember to just keep writing.
Peace and blessings.