Fess up

truthrare

Why do we lie? Why is the truth so difficult?

Maybe we are worried we are not enough. We arm ourselves with masks and layers to project a more successful, more perfect self. Meanwhile, the real self inside feels chagrinned. “Why is it necessary to puff. Am I not enough?” it whispers.

Maybe we are afraid. We don’t know so much–the future, the complexities of life, the secrets of our fellow journeyers. So maybe it makes us feel safer to pretend we know all the answers.

Maybe we don’t really want to tackle the problem at hand. We ignore it; we pretend it isn’t there; we sugarcoat it. If we don’t acknowledge it, maybe it doesn’t exist.  (But we keep stumbling against it, don’t we?)

Think what power there is in the truth. It provides a foundation that is stable enough to approach any problem head-on.  It testifies that each of us is enough, and, not only enough, but that the very weakness we are trying to hide is the vulnerability that gives our voices authenticity and value, that draws others to us as a source of comfort and strength.

No one really expects perfection from you. If they say they do, it’s because they are not fully grounded in the truth themselves. There isn’t perfection. It doesn’t exist. There is just all different versions and varieties of real.  That is your truth. Your real. Own it.

Hope.

hope

We begin the year with hope. Hope for peace; hope for good health; hope for reconciliation and redemption; hope for progress on our journeys and throughout the world. Emily Dickinson’s poem is a lovely metaphor to return to when drawing on this hope to get us through rough days:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.
Hope is active, isn’t it? Sometimes singing, sometimes soaring, sometimes hanging on by its toenails. Faith is different. Mary Oliver describes this difference beautifully in her new book, Upstream:
In the winter I am writing about, there was much darkness. Darkness of nature, darkness of event, darkness of the spirit. The sprawling darkness of not knowing. We speak of the light of reason. I would speak here of the darkness of the world, and the light of _______. But I don’t know what to call it. Maybe hope. Maybe faith, but not a shaped faith–only, say a gesture, or a continuum of gestures. But probably it is closer to hope, that is more active, and far messier than faith must be. Faith, as I imagine it, is tensile, and cool, and has no need of words. Hope, I know is a fighter and a screamer.
As we go forward, let us hope for a better world for every one, but let it be an active hope–a fighting, kicking and screaming hope– a hope that urges us into that battle of making the world the better place.

Come home.

wherethouart

Something there is in each of us that yearns for home.  Sometimes we confuse that yearning with a physical place. We travel back to that place and wonder why it feels different. What has changed? Why doesn’t it still feel like home? Sometimes we confuse that yearning with a particular time, a past perhaps that wasn’t complicated with today’s troubles, and lose ourselves in nostalgia. Sometimes we confuse that yearning with a particular person and, if we lose that person, wonder if we will ever feel at home again.

But what if home is not a particular place in time but a feeling we can take steps to cultivate? Here are some suggestions that might bring that feeling of home into your life:

Embrace the Now

Think about those times when you felt a deep sense of belonging and contentedness. Chances are, it was when you were lost in some sort of activity, maybe with people you love, and you lost all sense of time. No checklists, no to-dos, no schedule. Just falling into the moment and letting it lift you out of the day into something bigger.

Welcome Others

Remember that old TV show, Cheers, when everyone shouted “Norm” when he came in? A place where “everyone knows your name?” That sense of welcome is something we can offer others. Greeting them, smiling, welcoming them into the conversation or community. That is a profound thing we can do, and that sense of home that we give to them will undoubtedly rebound to us and make that place in time feel more homey for everybody.

Lay Down Your Weapons

It is hard to enjoy someone else’s company when you’re disagreeing with them. Sure, some conflict is necessary and even healthy to life together, but set aside time to come together in harmony with people. Search for the common elements you agree on. Abandon the judgment and criticism. Enjoy a game or activity that deemphasizes competition. Savor the time together.

Use Your Own Definitions

It’s easy in a social media culture to look at other people’s homey pictures and events and think you need to duplicate those exact things if you want to feel the sense of home they’re experiencing. In fact, that’s one of the strategies behind advertising: “Look at these happy people. Don’t you want to be just like them? If you buy our product, you will be!’ But that comparative decision-making is a set up for disappointment. Instead, look at your people and experiences and find ways to enjoy them that are uniquely your own. And then maybe consider holding those moments a bit sacred, away from the instinct to share. Savoring your home life beats bragging about it every day.

Realize Life is Difficult

For many people, that feeling of home doesn’t include suffering or loss or heartbreak, but is this the way it should be? Isn’t that comforting of each other through the ups and downs of life exactly what home should feel like? We don’t need to run from the hardships in life, we just need to be there with each other through them. Everyone’s life has bumps and bruises. We are all vulnerable.  Pretending we aren’t and that we have the perfect home life is just a set-up for disappointment. For those of us who have weathered storms, having a friend or family member down in the trenches with us has made all the difference and made even the horrible experience feel like home.

Make Time for Your People

Who are the people you love and make you feel at home? Are you finding time to spend with them? Sometimes, even when we love people and hold them close to our hearts, we need to schedule time to spend together. It’s a fast-paced world, finding an opportunity to slow it down to spend time with your loved ones is important, even if you have to pencil it in on your schedule.

Your Roots are Global

The connections between you and anyone else in this world exist, no matter how far removed. For an eye-opening experiment into just this theory exactly, take a look at this DNA experiment.  That knowledge of connection to others, even those seemingly nothing like you or even those you hate, can ground you to see others as yourself, to greet others, to befriend others, to join into a global community where you can feel at home wherever you go.

Today, come home.