I have a confession to make: I want to dazzle you. In my first blog post, I wrote that one of my intentions for this blog was to counter a lifelong habit I've had of hiding. While this is still very true, it is also true that I want to use this blog to dazzle you into liking me. I want you to be impressed by me. I want your attention. I want you to think I'm amazing. I want you to be captivated by my luminosity and blinded by my beauty.
Phew. That is embarrassing to admit, but I'm admitting it because the commitment I made to myself when I decided to start a blog was that I would write naked. No, I don't mean that I'm sitting here without clothes on—I live in the Bay Area for God’s sake, where it is perpetually chilly, so get your mind out of the gutter—but that I would write what is real.
What is real for me right now is that after launching this blog, I became depressed because I realized that my life is controlled by two seemingly opposing forces. Either I want to hide from you, or I want to overly embellish myself in an attempt to snowball you into liking me. If I wasn't doing either of those two things, I would have no idea what to actually do with my life.
I began to wonder: Who am I when I'm not wrapped up in what someone else thinks about me? How would I show up in the world if I didn't feel the need to either hide from or impress others? What would I say? What would I do? What would I write about? What would I wear? How would I act? What would I blog about?
The truth is, I don't know. I've been run by this conditioning for so long, I don't know who the authentic me is anymore.
So, I got depressed because I had no idea what to do about this, and I decided if I couldn't show up on this blog authentically, then I wasn't going to post.
But, yesterday, I remembered something.
A few months ago, while in the middle of a meditation, I was overcome with the feeling of being a complete fake. I felt fake down to my bones. I felt so fake I couldn't speak because anything I would have said would have been fake. It felt terrible, and I had no idea what to do. I had no idea how not to be fake, because I had spent my whole life as a fake.
Then, this thought came to me: I don't have to know what to do, because there is a greater intelligence working inside me that always knows; I only need to give myself over to that greater intelligence.
In that moment, an image of an artificial Christmas tree popped into mind, and I knew that I had been living my life as that tree—ornamented and embellished but devoid of any real life—plastic. The fake feeling was overwhelming, and I thought it would never end. Then, suddenly, the tree burst into flames and turned into a pile of dust. Out of the dust emerged a real, beautiful, lush, and colorful tree. I didn't feel artificial anymore. I could feel myself as that tree, with roots sucking in the deep, healing nourishment of the earth. I felt solid, grounded, alive, juicy, and—for the first time in a long time—real.
I could never have created that experience for myself, but the greater intelligence inside me could; and yesterday I remembered to give myself over to it again. I remembered that even under all my conditioning to hide or embellish, the greater intelligence is at work; and I could relieve myself of trying to figure out what to do. The greater intelligence working inside me knows exactly how to show up in the world. It knows when to push out of hiding, and it knows what to do or say without anything extra.
This doesn't mean I won't hide or embellish again, I just don't feel pressured to get it right anymore, which is a huge relief.
And, in my relief, I realized that both the hiding and the embellishing are ways I attempt to escape feeling my own vulnerability. If I hide, I don't have to feel vulnerable—and if I embellish, I don't have to feel vulnerable. Right under all of my impulsive conditioning to hide or embellish exists a greater impulse—an impulse based on desire and not fear—the impulse to live vulnerably. Life wins again.