It’s hard to know when to express ourselves and when not to.
There are moments when it is beneficial and even entirely necessary to speak our truth, to wear our heart on our sleeve, and to show those around us the vibrancy of our spirit. Though, in my experience, there are many moments where it is best to simply observe what’s happening—to watch quietly from the sidelines, not to be the star of the show. Even the most prolific superstars, if they’re smart, know that there is a time to hold back and not show their cards—so that the unveiling of their true potential is all the more radiant.
It is the balance between self-expression and reservation that I’d like to speak about.
There is a time and a place to be quiet. If it wasn’t for the quietude, the beautiful silence of nature, there would be no sound—the exhilarating music of life would not exist. Alan Watts once described how without the micro-spaces of silence within a symphony, there would be no rhythm, and it would sound all jumbled up. We need spaces of silence and calm to compliment the moments of rapturous sound and orchestral vibration.
Life is balance. There must be nothing, for there to be something.
So, I’ve been thinking about all of this in the context of human expression—specifically in the realm of speech and artistic creation. It is important to find the harmony between action and inaction, if we are truly going to meet our deepest potential.
The first thing to keep in mind is that nothing can be done out of fear that results in a fulfilled life. It’s just that simple. Whether we are expressing ourselves pathologically for attention out of the fear that we won’t be seen, or whether we are holding ourselves back pathologically out of the fear that we will be seen—we will be left feeling empty and hurt. It’s just the way the universe works, I think. Something like karma or a natural law. We can’t keep up our pathological tendencies for too long without losing touch with ourselves or falling down the slippery slope of despair.
A friend of mine used to say, “It’s a slippery, slippery slope.” Boy, did he hit the nail on the head.
To overcome fear, we must be completely vigilante of it within ourselves—as though we are a spy and it’s our job to trace the movements of our fear. When we are faced with a situation, and we get that weird feeling in our stomach of hesitation and resistance, we must dig deeply into the root of that feeling. Don’t even deny it for a second. That’s the ugly head of fear—rearing itself at your own goddamn soul. Fear is like a troll; we must call its name in order for it to come out.
Fear is the greatest obstacle in finding this life balance and being our best selves.
We must find our moments in life—or rather, allow our moments to reveal themselves to us, and then take action. If it feels unnatural, it’s not our moment. Be calm. Be stoic. If we miss one, don’t worry, the experience of being human is full of opportunities to find our rhythm. Don’t think in terms of scarcity, think in terms of abundance. The world is abundant and will provide moment after moment for us to find the mark.
What I do in my life to put myself in the best position to find my moments of self-expression and creative play is to engage in daily activities that portray this balance that I’ve been talking about. Writing is my creative outlet, as well as making YouTube videos, and I balance my creative excursions with extensive meditation.
I sit quietly, for an hour or so, and simply relax and breathe into my body. Just sitting like this—with a focus on calming the mind and the body down—is intrinsically healing and expansive because it counters the neurotic and compulsive tendencies of modern culture. I swear, finding this balance has been completely life-changing for me.
I used to believe that if I spent time in my day meditating, it would take away from my creative pursuits. The result has turned out to be exactly the opposite. Most of my best ideas have arisen in meditation. It’s where all of my good ideas come from. The introspective quality that comes through my practice is the foundation of my life now—it’s how I organize and orient myself in this world. Meditation has given me an identity again, after having it lost through six years of a severe chronic illness. I’m finding my way. When I live by this feeling, I am unbeatable. The trials of life don’t seem to slow me down.
I think the reason for this is that meditation is one of the best ways to reach the present moment. Self-expression is another way, but it must be preceded by this meditative quality—otherwise, it can’t maintain itself. Again, everything is balance. When we are aligned with the present moment, we are connected with the energy of life. That’s what it is.
So, we find our shining moments by living a balanced life.
If we have a foundation of awareness beneath everything we do, we will be prepared to manifest our truth when the proper moment presents itself. Everything feels smooth, almost like we’re not even the ones doing it. Because we’re not the one doing it—the ego is not doing f*ck all. We are merely allowing ourselves to act as vehicles for the greater consciousness of the universe. Maybe that’s true, or maybe it’s not—but goddamn, it feels that way.
Author: Samuel Kronen
Image: Instagram @elephantjournal
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy Editor: Sara Kärpänen