“As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know, this is ‘AUTHENTICITY’.” ― Charlie Chaplin
I’ve been sitting on this post for weeks. After my 5th attempt to write about authenticity I was tempted to just send out Charlie Chaplin’s poem instead. I kept trying to live up to some unattainable and unnecessary ideal: self-assured blogger, wisdom merchant, philosophy professor. Obviously I neither am nor want to be those things.
Finally, thankfully, the beauty of intention kicked in. This is Showing My Working, itself a promise to be personal, messy and authentic. I’d already created a vision and guidelines for myself in previous posts. The gravity of self-imposed expectations is difficult to escape, constantly pulling me in. With increasing frequency, though, I’m managing to build up the escape velocity to wriggle free ;)
Authenticity, self-actualisation, consciousness, deliberate living, fulfillment.
Such attractive but unattainable words. For years I’d come across them and feel disdain and exasperation at their peddlers. What the hell did they mean? Why did I get pissed off when I heard them? What was I avoiding?
They meant living one's truth, some hippy shit. I was angry because I was wounded and hurt, I just needed to survive, why were they bothering me when I was in pain. I couldn't face the reality of greater truths and striving for fulfillment because I was limping along and needed healing first.
Right now I'm on a train to a meditation centre to be in silence for 10 days. Last night I was listening to an early episode of The Blindboy Podcast where he mentions how mindfulness and meditation can be harmful in some cases of traumatised individuals, it's not an aspirin for every ill. It made me think of how for years I'd been attracted by the idea of noble silence but been hesitant. I now think this was my wounded animal recognising that it wasn't the right time for me.
I've been doing a lot of healing recently and I want to write about those. The numbness, the anger, the implosions and explosions, that accompanied the healing.
But at this moment, I feel on the cusp of a new chapter, much closer to authenticity than I've ever been. So I want to share my current answer to the question "what is my authenticity?". This is in the form of a personal manifesto, the product of much pain, anguish, observation and healing. Calling it a personal manifesto means it's a promise to myself, a tool for self-accountability but also self-compassion. As with any manifesto, it's an ideal, except it's mine, and therefore I can and will change it. Like other manifestos, it means I'm falling short of it most of the time, but it centres me when I read it every morning, and I get a little closer every day. And each time I'm closer, I feel more at peace.
Amir's Personal Manifesto
I’m a writer and story-teller, a master of words.
The ability to learn and adapt without ego is my greatest strength.
I’m a seeker of wisdom and growth, I ask good questions.
I approach others with curiosity rather than judgement.
My purpose is to help others find and be who they need to be, to find their own answers.
I practice gratitude daily and approach life with a sense of abundance.
Mindfulness makes me resilient.
Authentic conversation energises me, and vulnerability makes for authenticity.
I pursue my desires full-heartedly and ethically.
My body is glorious and I enjoy being in it.
I believe in being the change you want to see in the world. Lead by example.
Playfulness, usefulness and restfulness are the only three states of mind I want to inhabit.
I aim for quality over quantity, but believe that quantity can lead to quality.
Honesty and kindness go together.
I live my life for the present; there is no such thing as retirement.
My best investments are those in my self. By helping myself, I help my loved ones.
I grow from every seeming failure.
I learn, examine and protect my boundaries, and allow others to do the same.
I trust that my loved ones and I will support each other in times of hardship.
I make value judgements only when there is a goal in mind. Otherwise, everything is as it should be.
Everyone deserves the opportunity to express their creativity, and I work towards spreading that opportunity to everyone.
I keep my word and follow through.
I never regret spending money and time on books and food that I enjoy.
I'm curious. What do you think? How does reading the above make you feel? Do you relate? Are you baffled? If you know me, can you recall times when you saw me live up to my manifesto items, or the opposite? Write me and let me know, I'll reply in 10 or more days 😉
Before I got on my train to my Vipassana retreat, I went to get a coffee. I reached into my bag to grab my beloved KeepCup. It has my initials on it and makes me feel good and smug. I felt something sharp. It had broken into many pieces. I couldn't help but chuckle.