September 18, 2013

Is it Worth it? A Reflection on Authenticity. ~ BethAnne Kapansky

There is a question I ask myself on days when I am tired and worn down.

When the demands of life seem many and my supplies inadequate. When I am sitting in a restaurant having dinner by myself because I am too tired to cook and no longer have a built in dining companion.

Is it worth it?

By “it” I mean my life of authenticity. Taking the road less traveled. Being true to myself. Following my heart. Seizing the day. Any other pretty carpe diem cliche that sums up the appearance of my life, yet doesn’t do any justice to the reality of what the road less traveled looks like.

The truth is that cliches in my life came at a high cost, which makes them not-so cliche at all.

Choosing a path of authenticity and being in a space where I can be my whole self, required stepping out of one life in order to create the necessary space. It meant inadvertently hurting somebody I dearly loved to rescue myself. It meant leaving a well built, well practiced life of security for dinner, alone.

If you have ever had to break your own heart in order to save your heart, then you too know a great deal about love, cost, and courage. You also know much about grief, and you understand what I mean when I say sometimes the ache is still palpable.

At the time people thought I was crazy. I just know I felt I was dying inside. Taking slow gasps of air which increasingly ceased to oxygenate a part of myself who had never had the opportunity to emerge.

I found this part in the freedom of running through the mountains, which contained something untamed and expansive I couldn’t yet integrate within myself.

I found this part in the abandon of the dance floor as fluid movement provided a key to freeing something locked.

I found this part in every infinitesimal moment that chronicled an awakening of self. Savoring the perfect plate of tangy spaghetti. Feeling winter’s cold, still air on my face. Laughing so hard I hurt. Noticing how peace felt. Noticing how Alive felt. Noticing how often I lacked those qualities.

I found my unmet part in the words that tumbled onto paper the first time I sat down to write. She had never had a voice in my life. I gave her one. She roared. Everything changed.

Long gone are the days of my unawakened self. My authentic self has been driving the ship for the last few years and is steadily following her True North. Drawing closer and closer to something measured by the compass of my heart. Perhaps I will spend my entire lifetime discovering what that is.

I call it my path of love, though I have to confess most days I feel like a carpetbagger. I never seem to stay in one place for too long before the winds of change blow, and I know it is time to leave. I have learned a great deal though, on this road to authenticity and love.

I’ve learned to think of my heart as home, so I will always find home no matter where I go.

I’ve learned I may look a little lost to others, certainly a touch eccentric, but I have never been more found.

I’ve learned what it means to love. In a deep, radical, abiding way. It all starts within.

I’ve learned that grief is really love turned inside out, and those with the greatest capacity to love will also meet the greatest depths of despair. They are simply different sides to the same coin.

I’ve learned the path of authenticity is beautiful and sometimes lonely.

Being true to myself requires the shedding of that which isn’t true. I have left people, places, and spaces behind. I think grief shall commingle with love for a very long time in my life, and I am learning to become intimately familiar with the solid feel of that coin in my hand.

Which leads me to my current state sitting alone in a restaurant after a depleting day of work, wondering if anything I’m doing is making a difference and idly reflecting on easier days gone by when I wasn’t doing life all by myself.

These are the moments I feel weak, exposed, and vulnerable. These are the moments I ask the question.

Is it worth it?

Somewhere inside of me, under the layers of exhaustion and doubt, a deep seated part rooted in self knowledge starts to thrum in rightness. Even on the worst of days the answer is always the same. Yes.

Ten times yes. One hundred times yes. One thousand times yes. It is worth it.

It is worth it because who we are is the greatest gift we will ever receive and who else is going to unwrap, savor, and cherish this gift if not ourselves? Finding the courage to be one self is an incredible act of love.

It is worth it because there are thousands of people walking around in this world with heads down, eyes shut, hearts wounded, and the only way to change anything is to start within.

It is worth it, because every time we claim a piece of our real selves, we become more fully human.

It is worth it, because even when life is shaded by alone, I now go to sleep every night with the whole of me.

It is worth it, because I know I am not the only person who thinks about this question and who wonders if they are on the right path.

Though we have a responsibility to be for ourselves, we are also connected to one another. I firmly believe we heal when we share our stories. We mend wounds caused by silence. We give one another permission to continue speaking, to continue on our journeys. An act of courage from one, strengthens all.

So yes, even if it means there are times of empty spaces that echo with the refrain of loneliness- because I refuse to fill those spaces with false clutter having nothing to do with my True North — the answer to my original question is affirmative.

This path of authenticity, it is worth it. 

Ten times yes. One hundred times yes. One thousand times yes. It is worth it.

For all of us.

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Assist. Ed: Jade Belzberg/Ed: Sara Crolick

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