This second line of Emerson's quote is not for the faint of heart... this is a life’s journey. The Hero’s Journey.
In order for us to summon the courage to be “who we are”. we have to first answer the question: Who Am I? Not easy stuff! In the world of creatures, we’ve been categorized as Human Beings. So lets break that down, shall we?
HUMAN– In this category I would place most of life experiences of “I am…”. I am...5’4’, with brown hair, brown eyes. My ancestry. Where I went to school, how many siblings I have. Whether my parents were “good” or “bad” parents. The first boyfriend, first breakup, and the last. The physical challenges and illnesses. The marriage, the children, the divorce. The years I defined myself as “being” a television producer, the change of careers… becoming “a therapist”. Basically, the story of my human existence.
BEING– Now here is where its gets a little more elusive. Who am I as a Being? According to the great spiritual teachers, who we are, is none less than The One. The Oneness, God, Creation, Universal Energy…the most accessible words for me…Consciousness itself. Conscious Awareness.
Got it? (kidding)
Being, leads us to the word...Is. As in, Being Is. And the sentence could really stop there.
But as we are mortal, with these minds that need to know, I will attempt to elucidate, from my humble place as a student/teacher. I have been studying spiritual teachings for the past two decades, wrote existential poetry as a child, and the one thing I have read, learned, and know…is that I know nothing when it comes to what “Being” is.
And yet, we have to start somewhere. As the purpose of this post is to explore these ideas along with you, dear reader, I humbly share my observations and realizations along the way, in pursuit of the answer to this question.
Where was I? Ah yes, Being Is. Which leads to another omnipotent one syllable word…Now.
Being Is Now. Being is what animates us, in this moment and all of the moments we ever have and ever will experience. Being is consciousness and consciousness can only be Now. There is nothing else beyond the awareness that is the present. Could it be any accident that when you ask if someone is “present” it means “here now”?
You still with me?
Being is the very fabric of all we know ourselves to be. To Be is the awareness, that I Am. It’s that. Both what we are and what we are part of. But even those words don’t define Being, because to be a part of something means to be separate, and we are not separate but simply aspects of the One. Better to gaze at the sunset, or a beautiful flower. The powerful presence of a tree…there we experience the Oneness Being Now. The great spiritual teachers tell us, we are all that, we are all The One. Like rays of the sun, we are in our essence the energy itself. Like what appears to be waves upon the ocean, in our essence, we are the sea.
Being is in and of everything. Nothing exists without being, or consciousness...Awareness is what we are.
O.K,, back to the Emerson's directive: The Courage to Be Who We Are.
If we want to speak and think more simply, (yes, more simply!!) we can see the question as a matter of Truth. “The courage to be who we truly are”. This understanding can be more easily grappled with. What are our innermost yearnings? Are we pretending to BE something in our day-to-day lives other than who we really are? This question is a natural extension of the previous call of freedom - “The escape from all false ties...”.
From this perspective, the courage to be who we are means letting go of pretenses and living from our truest selves. It means not “trying to be” anything, but just being. It’s those walls and boundaries that we keep up between each other. To impress, to protect ourselves, to hide because we fear rejection. To be who we truly are is to be quite end hear our deepest truth about our highest possibilities, our yearnings to be…to reach our full potential, even if we don’t quite yet know what that looks like. Its to follow that still small voice, and faithfully follow where it leads us.
How does this look practically? I thought you might ask that. If we had the courage to be who we are, it might mean:
· Leaving that job that suffocates the joy and love out of us and finding something where we can thrive both inside and out.
· Becoming vocal and asking for what we want and taking action on our behalf.
· Speaking our truth when we do not share the same opinions as others.
· Speaking up when someone makes a racist, sexist or derogatory remark, instead of letting our silence communicate our agreement.
· Admitting to ourselves that we don’t know it all, and that its ok
The Courage to Be Who We Are is accepting ourselves with our strengths and flaws. Its not hiding or playing small, because we fear our brilliance. Its working on ourselves with loving acceptance that we are a work in progress, and have nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to hide. It’s knowing that ultimately, if we are not accepted and loved for who we are, than the love is not really love, just comfort, which comes at much greater cost than being alone. Its knowing that our Creator, The One Being, accepts us As We Are.
Next up…."Love of what is simple and beautiful." Hopefully it will be simpler than this post! LOL
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.