Monday, November 24, 2008

Which Part of Me is Showing Up?

I went on a hike this weekend to the top of a small mountain near my home. It was a beautiful, crisp morning. We don’t see too many of those at this time of year around Seattle! I woke up and knew that I needed to take advantage of the gift of a glorious sunny day. I headed out on my hike. What a treat!

As I made my way up the trail, enjoying the snow tinged mountains, emerald green trees, bright sunshine and fragrant smells of the woods, I marveled at the fact that in a few days time I’ll be enjoying the sights and buzz of New York City, and a day after that I’ll be embraced by the ancient and compelling energy of Jerusalem and the desert hills that surround it.

I consider myself to be a creature of habit. I am comforted by routine and predictability. My love of travel, and the thrill I get in moving rapidly from one world to the next seems a bit at odds with my ‘usual’ personality. I’m not quite sure how all this got packaged together in one person!

I do know, however, that there is great value in being able to be ‘fully present’ to whatever circumstance in which we find ourselves. To be able to move from situation to situation, location to location or even from emotion to emotion is one of the key skills to living one’s life well.

Using my example of the three diverse experiences of hiking up a mountain, hanging out in New York City and visiting friends in Israel, it is clear that each situation requires different things from me. The clothing I need for each of these locations is different. The people I encounter in each place will be different and will require a different set of social skills in order to interact with them. My goals in each place will be different. My challenges… and joys will be varied. Yet, through each one of these three distinct experiences, I will be the common denominator. The essential ‘me’ will be present in, and hopefully to, each scenario completely.

All of us can benefit from thinking a bit about how we move through our lives. What part of us is always there? What part of us do we move from no matter where we are or who we are with? What pieces of us express in different situations? Are those parts that only emerge sometimes consistent with the ‘essential core’ of who we are? Are we one way with one group of people and another way with a different group? That can be perfectly fine, for example the way I speak to native English speakers is different from how I speak to native Hebrew or Arabic speakers. I change my way of communicating to be most effective… but the inner essence remains the guide through all those experiences.

We can sometimes check our ‘true self’ at the door in certain relationships or life circumstances… to fit in better… to keep the peace… to make things easier. I have a goal in my life to try to be the ‘authentic me’ as much as I can in ALL of my life circumstances. The difference is between being someone we’re not (which is soul killing) and always coming from our ‘essential self’ and making minor adjustments as necessary to be fully present to each and every unique experience.

Knowing what pieces of ourselves to shift… and which part needs to remain permanently in place is part of the lesson that we all have the opportunity to learn in this life.

I actually have a goal on my goal list every year… to have the ‘me’ that shows up be more and more consistent throughout all my experiences. I spent a lot of my younger life trying to be what everyone else wanted me to be. That can be exhausting! I still have to work at it, but it does get easier as time goes by.

Granted, with my extremely diverse life, I get a lot of practice with this. I don’t really have a choice about it. No matter what your life looks like, however, you can still work on this practice. Cultivate and nurture the ‘essential core’ of who you are… and make the little adjustments needed along the way to fully participate in each and every life experience!

No comments: