Lately, I've had lots of real, thorny, challenging, enlightening conversations about prickly truths that make people squirm. It's funny, and sad, and weird how as we become adults and are harnessed with more responsibility that we lose our ability to tell it like it is. We feel shame in saying "This sucks" when we're supposed to be happy, and even more shame in saying, "yeah, this is amazing..." when it's supposed to suck. One of my favorite quotes is from (an incredibly depressing) movie, "Revolutionary Road":
"No one forgets the truth. They just get better at lying."
In having these to-the-point, cards-on-the-table conversations, I've been kind of stunned... Stunned by the bravery of other truth-tellers...by the martyrdom of lie-livers...by the judgment of gloss-overers...by the peace of same-boaters.
I understand not everyone wants or needs to tell the truth, and that sometimes, it's easier and cleaner to live in the reality of a circumstance, rather than the weight of an itchy feeling, an inkling, or a gut instinct that may or may not have any solidity to it. Think about it: The second we peek behind a door we've dead bolted shut, it opens the option to do that in every aspect of our lives. Suddenly, what started out as an attempt to (hypothetically) change a career turns into an examination of where we live, who we live with, who we surround ourselves with, etc. It's Pandora's Box, and opening it almost guarantees a frenzy of emotions, choices, conversations, soul-searching and yes, ugly, uninformed opinions. *Sigh*... Why bother?
I feel like that sometimes. The "why bother" overruns me and the white-hot, sometimes searing truth of what could be is displaced by the mellow, lukewarm comfort of what is. It's yummy to sink into for a bit- like comfort food- embraced by an abyss of the familiar softness of a road often traveled. For me, it hits me at night, when I've been shamed into feeling guilt-ridden about wanting or needing more than ordinary, and I've had internal and external dialogue ripping through me like, "Count your blessings", and "It's supposed to suck sometimes" and "Do you know how many people would kill to have this, or this, or this"? I silently talk myself into agreeing to keep the artificial peace....
But then it happens: I wake up the next day. And I'm still in an abyss of nothingness, that should feel like everythingness. And I can't forget that the ability to feel satiated, and challenged, and inspired exists somewhere...just not where I wish it would. Just not where I am.
Don't misunderstand me: There are those that are blessed with the ability to be still in their thoughts, actions and emotions. There are those that thrive in consistency and want nothing more than predictability. This is their blessing. It is my blessing to imagine that there are worlds beyond charted territory, that inspiration isn't meant to dull over time, and that life is supposed to feel extraordinary. The irony of my blessing, and theirs, is that they are also our curse.
People call you lots of things (to your face and behind your back) when you start rocking the boat. Reckless, crazy, ungrateful...and there's truth in all of that, of course. But where would the world be if there weren't people like that? What if all of us were the "content", don't-rock-the-boat group? Columbus probably would have lived a happy (safer) life if he believed the folks that said no new world existed beyond the sea. He probably would have done just fine doing something else, and he'd die happy and peaceful...but I wonder if he still might have wondered? I won't go into a dozen "what-ifs" of famous (and not-so-famous) figures that had to be a little "reckless, crazy and ungrateful" to get to the other side of awesomeness, and how many explorers there are and were that will never discover any great secrets, inventions or lands through their sacrifices. All of us "what-if"ers know that there's a balance in living half in and half out of the what ares and what-could-bes, and we all know that making big jumps, decisions or sacrifices are complete and utter gambles that may never pay off at all.
My point, I guess, is this: Nobody knows what the best "path" is...but I have to believe that we know our very own, very individual truth. We know what wakes us up inside, makes us the best version of ourselves, makes us braver than we knew we could be, and propels us forward. But ultimately, it's not knowing the truth that changes things...It's sinking into it. It's talking about it. It's sharing it. It's hearing it- without judgment.
Yes, the truth is prickly. But it shouldn't be. Living alone with a lie is prickly. "Getting through it" is prickly... The beauty of truth is similar to the beauty of fear: Once it's faced head-on and torn apart, it's released...it's powerless. I 100% can vouch for the fact that truth gets messier before it makes any kind of sense at all...but there's a beauty in that mess, a freedom in choosing to not be anchored by a paper dragon, and a kindness in being able to say to yourself and others "This is my heart, my blessing, my curse, and my choice....and those are things I cannot and will not ignore".