Authenticity; “The Journey”

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I was reading the poem  "The Journey" by Mary Oliver last night

        The Journey

        "One day you finally knew what you had to do and began

          though the voices around you kept shouting

          their bad advice-

          though the whole house

          began to tremble

          and you felt the old tug

          at your ankles.

          "Mend my life."

        each voice cried.

        But you didn't stop.

        You knew what yo had to do,

         though the wind pried

        with it's stiff fingers

        at the very foundations,

        though their melancholy

        was terrible.

        It was already late

        enough, and a wild night,

        and the road full of fallen

        branches and stones.

        But little by little,

         as you left their voices behind,

        the stars began to burn

        through the sheets of clouds,

        and there was a new voice

        which you slowly

        recognized as your own,

        that kept you company

        as you strode deeper and deeper

        into the world   

        determined to do

        the only thing you could do-

        determined to save

        the only life that you could save."

  The authentic journey begins as Oliver so beautifully describes the,

"one day you finally knew what to do and began…"

Perhaps I missed it, but most of my life the prevailing message seems to have been;

fall in step, do what's expected, don't make waves, fit in, conform, socialize.

Today, 47 years, to the day after my birth  I've come to a much different understanding,  a different motto, belief, philosophy. Now I tell my clients, my friends, myself, kids, anyone who will listen and even people that don't;

Don't get a job…do the expected, get a partner or a new house….NO

 Get a life; Create a Life. Create a journey that is wildly, uniquely, authentically you.

As you 'save the only life you can', yours, as you fall headlong into living with passion and courage, as you listen to your own truth, as you align with your heart, soul and the small voice within,  you become. You engage in the most authentic journey possible, the journey of becoming you. And when you have the courage to be you, you inspire me to be ME.

I can't quite tell you when, but I can still remember where I was when I suddenly knew. I  was driving down the freeway, with tears flowing so fast I thought I might wreck. Something had to change. Suddenly my truth was so clear. My beliefs obvious.  I knew something I hadn't before. And this as Robert Frost reminds, 'has made all the difference" in my life.

In a twinkling I saw the  60-80 hour, traveling, workaholic  schedule controlled by  business, the goals, and the tasks as an outworn way of being, as something that was inauthentic, not me, not my truth.  It was time for me to shed this outworn self, to get off this path that no longer represented me, what I knew, believed or desired. Driving down that road that day in my suit and heels I listened to my heart and soul, it was calling me to my truth. It was a call to be me.

It wasn't enough for me to know. I had to begin, step out, believe.

The authentic journey, is one in which we come to  understand that there are 'rules'  that don't work for us, ways of being that aren't true for us, that prepackaged lives, jobs and security are nothing more than plastic wrap and fantasy.   Roger Housden explains,  "a new life requires a death of some sort…what we die to is our worn out way of being…"

Authenticity takes courage and faith.

Faith is that knowing, not of the specifics, mind you, but rather the knowing that what you now know, you know you must do; to be you.

Living our uniqueness doesn't diminish community, it enriches it. As you 'little by little' listen to the new voice' which you slowly recognize as you, you inspire others to pursue their own authentic journey. The most powerful communities are those alive with authentic individuals engaging in interdependency.

As I turn another year older, my birthday wish for you and I is that we might know "it is already late enough, and it's been a wild night, and the road is full of fallen branches and stones. But little by little as we leave the other voices behind the stars will begin to burn through the sheets of clouds and there will be a new voice…a new voice we recognize as our own."  (adapted):)

Here's to letting your own light shine, to liberating yourself and others to live wildly, authentic lives.

Pam Hoelzle

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