"To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting." - e.e. cummings
These words speak to my heart this day, at this time in my life. Thankfully, I have an independent streak and a tendency to speak and act upon what is true for me in the moment. Sometimes though I find myself ‘going with the crowd’ (or thinking that I should), perhaps to get along, to be accepted, to do the ‘right thing’, to be secure, etc. For example, I was about to step over the language of ‘battle’ and ‘fight’ in cumming’s quote. But, since I’ve noticed that I’ll just say that I long for the day where we learn to express deep sentiment without words grounded in fear and fight (and, that’s a post for another day).
What resonates for me is being at a point in life where I feel like I’m swimming upstream in some domains of life. I imagine the salmon being its authentic self and swimming upstream in a flow of water that could carry it effortlessly in the opposite direction. Or this lone tiny sunflower popping through the rocky soil for one last link with the sun before the snow falls.
I’m coming to see some shadow in the well-intended positive thinking and spirituality of today. The world it seems has guided us to simply step into the flow of the external world and let it carry us in whatever direction it does, without running those choices through the filter of our soul. Without question this approach can have value and take us on adventures we’ve not even dreamed.
But it seems that the world (parents, schools, career counselors, friends, partners, bosses, financial advisors and other well intentioned influences in our lives) teaches us to choose what’s best on the mundane level. All too often the yearning of the soul to expand knowledge into wisdom is left behind. I hear it in the voices of clients who feel they have no choice but to be there for the ‘security’ of a paycheck. It lurks in lifestyle choices that have us swimming in more stuff than we need, yet wanting more (and not feeling any better when we get that next thing). I personally experience it in the tension between the system’s definition of what I need to have in a portfolio in order to ‘be secure in my later years’, the lifestyle I choose today, and what I believe about my capacity to contribute and be financially rewarded well into the future (not to mention my dream that we will create new economic systems which are fairer, more just, and honor all contributions to the whole in ways that sustain us all).
That said, I’m grateful for the tension, the seeming disconnect and discomfort that sometimes creeps in. It reminds me that I am awake, awakening, and that the opportunity to create something new from ‘being nobody but me’ is ever present. Is it any wonder that I live on a road called Cordial Way near its intersection with Rarity Way?
Experiment for the Week: Notice where you experience tension between the logic of the world’s messages and your heart. If your heart were in charge, what might you choose differently?