January 17 – The Friction of Being Visible – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening
“It is only by risking ourselves from one hour to another, that we live at all.” William James
Living through enough, we all come to this understanding, though it is difficult to accept. No matter what we path we choose to honour, there will always be conflict to negotiate. If we choose to avoid all conflict with others, we will eventually breed a poisonous conflict within ourselves. Likewise, if we manage to attend our inner lives, who we are will – sooner or later – create some discord with those who would rather have us be something else.
In effect, the cost of being who you are is that you can’t possibly meet everyone’s expectations, and so, there will, inevitably, be external conflict to deal with – the friction of being visible. Still, the cost of not being who you are is that while you are busy pleasing everyone around you, a precious part of you is dying inside; in this case, there will be internal conflict to deal with, the friction of being invisible.
As for me, it’s taken me thirty of my forty-nine years to realize that not being who I am is more deadly, and it has taken the last nineteen years to try to make a practice of this. What this means, in a daily way, is that I have to be conscientious about being truthful and resist the urge to accommodate my truth away. It means that being who I really am is not forbidden or muted just because others are uncomfortable or don’t want to hear it.
The great examples are legendary: Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Sir Thomas Moore, Rosa Parks… But we don’t have to be great to begin. We simply have to start by saying what we really want for dinner or which movie we really want to see.