Posts Tagged ‘reality’

LEGACY 6: AUTHENTICITY

May 14, 2018

(Originally written 9/20/14)

Authenticity is, at best, being who you are and were meant to be.

It’s ironic that so-called “reality” shows are really more Truman-esque than real. Because the participants are on-stage, there is an acting-ness, a phoniness.

“All of life is a test.” (from the movie The Recruit) Problem is, with tests, we don’t get to grade ourselves. Someone—or someones—outside ourselves do that. There is some standard we’re being measured against. Are we trying to measure ourselves against that yardstick rather than something intrinsic?

“To thine own self be true,” said Shakespeare’s Polonius. Ironically, he was not. Nonetheless, the truth of that statement captures our fascination. We treasure authenticity. We resonate with people who are real. We are awed by people who are able to operate gloriously in their unique gifting or calling.

Sometimes we envy them, which is a tragic waste of our own undiscovered uniqueness. Trying to copy someone else is like buying a ticket to Cancun but waiting for the plane to Cabo: It doesn’t get you where you really want to go. Both places are great destinations, but only one is right for you, and waiting in the wrong terminal IS terminal. Life is too short for envy.

How do we find our own true self?

  • We have lost the art of listening—to others, to our hearts, to silence. What resonates in your life? Everyone has SOMETHING to offer. The current hit book/movie Divergent plays on this truth, this intense desire we have to find our true calling, to be authentic. Many of our classics relate to the same truth—Tom Sawyer, Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, Matrix—the list goes on. We can listen to the stories in what we read or watch—what characters fascinate us? What heroes would we most like to be like? There is a message in our hearts that is only heard by listening to what we are drawn to most.
  • Accept limitations. Be who you are capable of being without putting yourself down for not being more. Accept the linearity of life—we only get one, at least only one at a time. Start where you are. Steady wins the race. Plod if you must, but move toward the real you somehow. Accept the mistakes of the past—they are part of who you are. Make them count. Include them.
  • Smile. Learn to enjoy the moment. Be alive whenever you can, and focus on making it more of the time. Don’t be afraid of rejection—the world is longing for people who know who they are and aren’t afraid to show it.

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. –Howard Thurman.

The glory of God is man fully alive. –St. Irenaeus

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Reality Is and I Am

January 11, 2013

Descartes’ famous line, “I think; therefore I am,” can be interpreted at least two ways. Most probably Descartes meant, “Because I know I am able to think, this means I exist, since ‘obviously’ I had to exist before I could have the capacity to think.”

However, I think (here meaning that I am simply observing something about this statement <g>) in our times, we tend to interpret it an opposite way, something akin to “I think myself into existence,” or, closer to what is often said, “My thinking is what creates my reality.”

And it may be that we have a reality that we create by our thinking. But, again, “obviously,” there must be a Reality (I’m capitalizing it to distinguish it from the “reality” I can—if I can—create through my thinking it into existence) that has an existence outside me. Some simple examples might be the existence of Japan as a country or gravity as a principle of physics. I can deny either, but that does not deny the Reality—however, it WILL affect my interaction with that Reality. If I choose to disbelieve the Reality of Japan, I may not believe it possible to literally travel there; I may carry it further and refuse to recognize the existence of people I meet who claim to be from Japan, and cut off communication with them when they try to convince me. And I could even carry it further into absurdity in ways that might force others to have to act—if, say, I try to eliminate anyone who claims to be Japanese. Similarly, if I simply believe gravity doesn’t exist, it may not matter, but if I believe enough to act, I may fall off high places, resulting in injury or death.

You can see the point here, and apply it in countless ways. Belief determines action. What I believe does not determine Reality, but it does determine reality, how my “reality” interacts with other Realities. And to be honest, we cannot act without believing something—we believe that a light switch or car ignition will “work,” that a chair or a set of stairs will support my weight, etc. I’m not a philosopher, so I’m keeping this on a simply basis here.

Now, without going deeply into philosophical or theological issues, I want to apply this principle briefly to the concept of evolution and Christianity’s historical opposition to it on root-level concepts, in a simplistic way. At the root, the idea that evolution is espousing is that “things” ultimately get better. Christianity comes closer to what is called scientifically the Second Law of Thermodynamics, or in “Bubba-speak,” Murphy’s Law: Ultimately, things fall apart, break, break down, fail. [In a larger context, however, Christianity comes closer to evolution’s thinking, in asserting that ultimately God WILL redeem everything and make it better than it ever was. This is reflected in Romans 8:28, “ALL things work together for good,” and other places in the Bible.]

My point in all this is not to “diss” evolution, but rather to say, again, belief determines action. If we believe evolutionarily (if that is a word), we may miss important factors that can cause us to crash and burn. If we go too far on the negative end (“all is vanity”), we may become fatalistic and refuse to act (which is itself a form of action, but a downhill one).

I choose to believe that I have the God-given capacity to choose, and therein lies my responsibility. What do I do with the talent(s) I am given? That is what I will ultimately be judged on, by others, by God (the Ultimate Reality), and even by myself (I can, e.g., cause damage to my body by how I act on what I believe, and my psychological well-being will definitely prosper or suffer based on how I act on what I believe).

Christianity has a long-standing image, a word-picture, that captures this basic idea of Reality: a rock. In one place in Scripture, Jesus pictured Himself as “The Rock,” and Peter as “a rock.” In another, He said, “Whoever throws himself on this Rock will be broken, but whomever It falls on will be crushed.” We get the choice: Do we allow ourselves to be broken in small ways by the Reality we face? Or are we choosing to head toward being crushed by it? We choose, in the here-and-now, by multitudes of small choices we make.