Writer’s Island prompts #12 and #13 “Change For the Better”
Was a bit disappointed when I went to see what the prompt might be for today. My last blog was about all the changes I have had to deal with, and have made, over the past year. I could have used it, but I really wanted a fresh challenge. As I was about to leave the site however, I noticed this quote:
be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing it’s best, to make you everbody else… __ee cummings
Now that I can dig my teeth into, it is the story of my life. “If you’d just change this or that, you’d be more… lovable, likable, attractive, friendly, popular, pleasant, companionable, easy to get along with, acceptable, easy to work with, spiritual, skilled, graceful, content, enjoyable, light-hearted, approachable, genuine, authentic, organized, committed, rounded, satisfied, as well as satisfying,” and on and on ad finitum. What is really being said here, is never really spoken aloud. What is actually meant is that “if you would change this or that, you would be far more like me and then I could be a lot more comfortable than I am.”
In keeping with the prompt, I think the best thing I could do in order to make me a better person is to stop listening to all those things other people would prefer me to be, and just get on with being me, whoever that might be at any given moment. That is the easiest solution, but also the most difficult one to maintain.
I have written here, about how and why I have felt that I didn’t ever quite fit in for the majority of my life. The circumstances that created that reality were completely out of my control, and yet the result has kept me doing a balancing act that includes tap dancing on a high wire. Try it, it ain’t easy, or even doable in most moments. Yet, I have tried to dance the undoable far more than anything else in my life. Why?
Because I have also longed to feel at ease within my own skin. To be relaxed and comfortable in any given moment. To belong. A few years back, I began to hear a phrase that, at first, seemed to make a great deal of sense, but then began to niggle in that deep dark reservoir at the back of my mind and wouldn’t be quieted or stilled. The phrase went something like this, “Learn how to be your authentic self.”
The phrase was often followed by a pitch, of one sort or another, that meant one could pay a certain amount of money and learn “authenticity” of being. In other words, one could pay someone else to teach one how to tap dance on a high wire they had created for just such a purpose. Been there, been doing that for years. How could anyone possibly teach me how to be authentically who I am? How the hell would they know such a thing unless they also were extremely familiar with and ready to tell me, “If you would just change this or that, you would be so much more…” (read second paragraph). One could be paying for the rest of ones life and still never find whatever authenticity is to be found.
And now, of course, she pulls out the Dictionary. According to that said reference, authentic means original, the genuine article, verifiable as such, meaning origin is provable. So, a birth certificate would suffice, right? Well, yes, if all I wanted to do was prove that at some moment in the past, I came into being as a living, breathing human being. It doesn’t tell me who I am now, in this present moment, in the only place that genuinely matters, inside me and my skin. Besides, I already know that because I am here, typing these words, breathing and living through this moment in time.
Long story, made much shorter. All that disquiet and lack of stillness brought me right back to one thing. I still wanted to belong, to fit in, and only I could know that at any given moment. I would feel it, right here inside my own skin. Funny thing is though, the more I felt it, that relaxed comfortable ease, the more people around me seemed to need to tell me how to be better at what I was already doing.
In that very convoluted manner, I came to know what was really being said when I would hear that old familiar refrain, “If you would just change…” Amazingly enough, that really helped that ease for which I had been seeking all of those years. It put the choices right back where they belonged all along, in my hands. I will listen to most suggestions, weigh them seriously if I feel they have some validity, but then I will choose to change in whatever fashion I think and perceive is best for me and the person I am still becoming. The one that I know and feel is me.
So, how do I justify doing what I am doing on this blog? Asking you to change, to find your authentic self by keeping a journal, and writing in it every day. I don’t. There is nothing to justify. What I write about is always whatever I choose. You have the same choice. You don’t have to read it and no one is paying me to do it. That’s one of the basic reasons I do it at all. Because it allows each of us the freedom to choose. I will continue to be who I am, doing what I love to do, and by doing that, being exactly who and what I am. And leave you to make your own choices. Leaving you to be exactly who you are, and being your authentic self in the bargain.
And by the way, I love ee cummings, he is always authentic, and well worth the read.