You have times you have to wake up. Times you leave for work. There are the rules of the road, and there is politeness when you reach the front door at work. There are niceties in the elevator and then your duties at work and following that your responsibilities to your children and finally it’s bedtime—a time decided by the fact that allows you to repeat that pattern every day.
That’s a lot of being someone for other people. Your parents, your spouse, your children, your boss, your friends, organizations you belong to, or even society itself. But what are the times you treasure in your life? You know what I’m talking about. When you’re doing what you want to do you’re either having fun or your doing something rewarding. So the question is, why do we spend so much time in slavish servitude to others when our joy, inspiration and energy seem to come from fulfilling our own impulses?
I’m not suggesting you become some self-entitled jerk who disrespects others. I’m saying there’s a way to pursue what you love while supporting someone else in what they love. Will these things sometimes come into conflict? Of course. There will be nights that your dance recital will be on the same night as his golf final at the club. But I’m not talking moment by moment—overall if you’re supportive of an activity that brings value to your partner’s life then you are by extension bringing more value to your own. And this is very simply because each person is functioning in a context that freely allows their own true sense of Being. When we’re not held back—when we’re supported rather than undermined—we always find the best within ourselves.
The hardest part about being yourself is that yourself can only be you firmly. You can’t be wishy-washy about your youness. This means you will come into conflict at times, with both new acquaintances and old friends alike. And if you’re clear-headed you won’t need to back down, because you know that their opinion and yours can easily co-exist. No one needs to surrender their being for another to be. But many people don’t carry that enlightened view so you will get people who will be upset or angry about your authenticity. Angry at the fact that you’re both willing to say and hear difficult things. You respect people’s right to be who they are even if that conflicts with you. It’s easy once you do it, and it creates a beautifully peaceful place inside of you, but it is a weird transom to cross. You have to be willing to have people you love be angry or disappointed in you. Because they’re not really upset with you. They’re upset that you’re not following the rules.
Being free means that if you feel a buddy’s drinking too much, you say something because you love him—because that’s why you have the impulse to say it. He may not ever speak to you again for saying it even though it may be true that he’s on a path to ruin his life with alcohol. Do you see that you’re still doing the right thing by doing what you did? Because his reaction does not change the fact that your impetus was love. You spoke out of care, concern, compassion and love. That’s why an enlightened life is so simple. You just keep doing that and don’t concern yourself with the outcomes. Don’t get attached to people, places or things. Allow them to flow in and out of your life just as you would like to flow freely too. This is the strange paradox of true freedom.
Friends are wonderful things. So are places you live and jobs and co-workers you have—but none of these things should prevent us from being authentic. Because the stresses we feel in life don’t come from our conflicts with others, they come from our conflicts with ourselves.
Be free. Think for yourself. Be aware. Notice the world around you and respond to it as your authentic self. That will lead you to the most holy, enlightened and rewarding life there is. peace. s
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.