More and more, I approach this message to you with caution. What can I say in these times? What can I offer that will speak those of you who generously give me their time, that most precious of commodities?
More important, what can I say that will speak to YOU, the very one reading these words at this moment, so that we really connect?
Some of you are new here (welcome) while others have been reading as long as I’ve been writing. It doesn’t matter, as this moment is always fresh.
We all show up as someone we have never been before to “these times.”—the likes of which many have never seen in the supposedly ever-prosperous USA.
My first thought, then, is to assure you that I wait for the words to come to me, to tell me they are ready to be written. I don’t allow myself to just “put something out there.” These times demand more than that of me. I demand more than that of myself.
My second thought is to clarify what I mean by “these times.” That will be different for each of you. Perhaps you are nearing the cliff of personal financial disaster. Perhaps you have fallen over.
Perhaps you are old enough, or come from a place far off enough, to have seen times that are far, far worse than this.
Today I speak to those who feel their authentic journey is threatened. If that is not you, surely you know someone for whom this is true. Maybe you can pass the ideas below on to them.
And So, Here We Are
I’ve been thinking a lot about authenticity in these times. How easy it was in the good old days (say, two years ago) to think that “Be Who You Are” was a stand-apart ideal.
We could be rogue travelers making this planet our home, a comfy place to live as we dream without a further thought for other people in other cities, let alone other countries.
We could dress as we wished, drive what we wished, deal only with whom we wished. (Unless, of course, you were someone for whom this “American Dream” didn’t fully kick in before it started to crumble.)
It’s tempting to think the “Be Who You Are” philosophy must die in times like these. That we must set aside our unique talents, our creative visions, our personal style and learn to…ahem….get along with others again.
But this thinking is just another face given to the fear and panic. It is allowing the outside world to dictate who we must be and so give away all our hard won wisdom. That’s not what we took this journey for.
This Moment Is Fresh
Let Me Say That Again
This Moment Is FRESH
Which means that we will bring all we have learned on our “Be Who You Are” journeys to the new communities we will gather about us. We may stand in a soup line—either serving the soup or holding out our bowl—but that will not be what defines us.
It is the WAY we will stand in that line that will make all the difference.
It is the way we will smile and joke, if that is our gift. It is the way we will help another maintain his or her dignity, if that need is what presents itself.
It is the posture of positive greeting and the deep nod of understanding as we listen to the woes of others, even if that is all we have to offer.
It is the thought as we rise in the morning that the sun still shines and is a glory without price, and it is the thought as we fall asleep that we gave something worthy whether anyone witnessed the gesture or not.
(No intensity of “these times” can control your thoughts without our permission.)
Who Knows What This Will Look Like For You?
For me, it is writing no matter how many are reading. Maybe YOU are reading this far down the page and maybe I’m writing in an echoing vacuum. Maybe you have left this page because I have bored you. Or offended you.
Or you just get too much mail in your inbox and this really doesn’t speak to what you needed today (I understand). That doesn’t matter.
I’ll say that again. That doesn’t matter.
What matters is that I write. It matters that I give of myself in the best way I know how, which is through words that are infused with care for a world (yes, a whole world) in difficult times. It matters that the words that I feel need to be written…are in fact written.
And now, on to YOU, if you are still with me. It matters what you say. It matters what you do. And the time to evaluate that by any external means is over. I mean it. It has to be or you will give up. This much I know.
There is an old line from the last episode of MASH that has followed me ever since I heard it in my early twenties. Paraphrased, it goes something like this: “Sometimes you’re going to do good things and no one is going to know. And that has to be enough.”
What This Really Means
Sometimes, in these times, we may find ourselves working or living with people we are not so fond of. We may have thought we were going to leave home, or town, or the country and find we can’t.
We might have family or friends come to us empty handed, needing more than we think we can give and surely more than we wanted to give, and we’ll have to find a way.
And when this happens, we may be tempted to think all our great “Be Who You Are” work must be left behind. But then, we will have to think again.
We will have to find a way to redesign our lives yet another time to INCLUDE being who we are and so (and this is the punch line today) playing our part in remaking the world a better place.
That is what all this inner soul searching was for. Not to become amazing for ourselves alone. But to become amazing for us all. And in case you are wondering, this isn’t where our joy gets lost. It is where it gets found.
It is where life—amazing and ever-changing—takes on a wide lens full of beauty. This is where “as good as it gets” becomes a brilliance so great we cannot contain our joy.
We become the one on either side of the soup line who has so much to give, we inspire anyone within ten feet of us. We all know people like that. Now we must become people like that. And we can, because we know who we are.
Are you with me… anyone… anyone?
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Robin Rice is an author, spiritual mentor and contemporary shaman. She is also founder of the Awesome Women Hub.