GENUINENESS: THE WARRIOR’S SAFETY PRECAUTION
Everything reverts back to being genuine. Whenever there’s a gap, the only way to be a warrior is to refer back to the genuineness, which is somewhat raw and so tender and painful. That is the saving grace or the safety precaution, so that the warrior never goes astray and never grows a thick skin.
For me, courage isn’t about putting aside fear, or pain, or vulnerability. Courage is about facing and feeling those things. I do not want to be invulnerable, ever. I don’t want to swaddle myself or my life in muffling cotton so I never get hurt. I want a big life–passion, risk, and choice, as well as peace, reflection, and generosity. But when I feel hurt, my instinct is to figure out ways to avoid or minimize the pain, to scheme so that I don’t have to feel it again. That instinct to be safe, to take care of myself, makes sense. I know I am the only one who can truly take care of myself.
But I’m also the only one who can know and understand my own contradictions. Whitman gives us all permission to contradict ourselves (“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself; I am large–I contain multitudes.”), and I am so grateful for that permission. Navigating my contradictions makes the “right” and “wrong” thing to do for myself difficult, however.
I like this quote because I don’t equate being my “genuine” self with being my perfect or ideal self. I equate it with being my imperfect, messy, contradictory self. I want both safety and freedom, to be held and to be thrown into the sky to fly on my own. I will not shut off one part of my genuine self so as to do or say the right thing for the other part. I will say them both. I will want them both. Living this way is not easy or simple. We are, each one of us, paradoxes.
Be your own paradox. Don’t crumble under the pressure to simplify yourself. Have courage–to be vulnerable, to be genuine, to throw your tender heart out into the world again and again. I’ll try to do it with you.