Monday, December 15, 2008

The Real Deal

It’s rare that I ascribe much thought to the ideology of universal signs or omens. It isn’t that I don’t believe that Nature could be used as a pathway for communication between us and the Greater Powers that be, its just I suppose I’m more of a concrete-earthbound kinda girl. Oh, I had my hippy phase- it just didn’t stick. I was down with all the sandal action, I just couldn’t seem to get on board with the patchouli.....but, I digress.....

Lately, it seems the Universe is intent on blowing one reoccurring theme in my direction.....AUTHENTICTY. What it is and what it isn’t and how to judge the difference. And in particular, the areas in my own life where im guilty of the "isnt".

I certainly get that its simply human nature to want to portray the most positive YOU possible. Most of us just put the highlight reel on endless loop and let it roll. For example, I’m a halfway decent singer.....I don’t claim to be Broadway bound or anything but I can carry a tune in a bucket, a teacup, AND a champagne flute. You visit my mama's house more than once and she is at some point going to brag on this.....odds are she may even force, I mean invite, you to watch a video of any number of my recorded performances. (God help you, if you’ve been subjected to this already or ever are in the future. I offer my sincerest apologies.) But, another personal fact about yours truly, is im a mouth breather.....which pleasantly means that at night in my sleep, I tend to drool like a toddler cutting 2 eye teeth and a molar. It aint pretty, people. But, I highly doubt you will ever be subjected to endless photos of THAT...... and god knows, im certainly not going to ever bring it up intentionally in conversation. Promote the Affirmative/Camouflage the Adverse. Case in Point: these social networking sites that myself and so much of the planet are addicted to. We fling up photo albums full of happy family moments, good hair days and finish line crossings like its going out of style. To read most of these bios you'd think Coke-a-Cola really did teach the world to sing. I mean, seriously. It’s as though we are all only one step away from our own personal shang-gri-la and world peace. I was looking at some adorable Thanksgiving photos on a friend of mine's blog the other day. Said friend has two adorable little demons that smile like cherubim but would likely feel downright at home working at the right hand of Satan. I know these guys.....I was present at their births, yet even IM not entirely convinced they are human. These little monsters don’t sit still even in their sleep, yet there they were side-by-side, arms slung over each other's shoulders in matching britches, hats and scarves like something straight out of a Gap ad. It made me laugh out loud. I personally once posted a picture of myself crossing the finish line at my first charity 5k.....im all dewy and radiant with charisma.....hands thrust in the air in triumph......what you don’t see, is the time it took me to run those wretched 3.2 miles or the ambulance parked nearby that I nearly needed.

But this sort of "advertise the positive" line of thinking isn’t all evil.....it’s understandable to want others to view you in a pleasant light. I’m a natural born people-pleaser myself and would just about rather be hog tied and drug behind a moving vehicle down a gravel road than be a boat-rocker or a facer of confrontation. Like most everyone else, I feed the strong inner desire to be liked and loved and accepted. Personally, im not sure how well it would go over if we all posted photos of every aspect of our real selves. I have no desire to see you sitting on the couch in the middle of a three day Twinkie binge or fighting on camera with that husband of yours you love so much. Ok, ok....I might get sucked in to that out of mere curiosity for like 3 or 4 days but sooner or later it would just get depressing. So keep on posting those fabulous pageant shots and award winning moments of joy.
But, while I was enjoying a kicky little cinematic ditty the other evening, I heard someone on screen say "Love never means having to say your sorry".....I nearly choked on my overpriced refreshments. If you subscribe to that line of thinking I’d wager my next two paychecks on the fact that you are SINGLE. Love, and relationships in general, actually mean having to say you are sorry A GREAT DEAL. But, what im starting to believe is that while real love may not mean "never having to say you’re sorry".....it SHOULD mean, never having to say you’re sorry FOR WHO YOU ARE. And that means ALL of who you are. But how can you expect someone to appreciate and accept authentic you, if you aren’t brave enough to show the world who that really is?
I’m certainly not throwing stones here, people, I am gloriously guilty of this myself. The vocation on my resume may read: "Healthcare Professional" but I bet I exert nearly as much if not more energy in the form of "Personal Publicist". Say my life were a novel..... I might pen the inside book jacket to read: "Im the girl that will send you cards in the mail for absolutely no reason. I will drive 20 minutes out of my way to feed your dog when you are away on vacation. I will call you back at 2 am to field your random medical questions and do whatever is within my power to ease your suffering when possible. I will lend you pretty much anything I own regardless of value from clothes to camping equipment to my car. I'll hold your hand and pour the wine while you pour your heart out about love gone wrong. I will drop everything at the last minute to baby-sit your children when emergencies arise. I'll remember your birthday, dance at your wedding and attend funerals when you lose someone you love"......on and on ad nauseum.....
And while all of that IS TRUE.....somewhere in there, right next to all that inner goodness is a small closet in my heart where I hide all my secrets. I tend to pick and choose whom I grant access.....like an air traffic controller, waving in only those that meet my strict security clearance, and the list of those who qualify seems to be ever-shrinking. It’s my own personal version of "emotional transit management". On some days you’re more likely to break the ranks of the CIA then to crack my internal code. This is a rather stark contrast to my general overall demeanor. I typically come off as rather warm and unassuming and for the most part rather confident. I tend to gush over babies and cry at the weddings of total strangers. But on certain levels I have become fairly adept at keeping folks at bay emotionally when I want to. The strange fact, is that on the rare occasion when I have been courageous enough to allow someone I have grown to trust to see every aspect of myself, even the parts I find the most deplorable, I have been met with a surprising amount of understanding and acceptance. You would think that positive experiences such as these would encourage me to relax some of the strict borders and emotional boundaries I have placed upon myself. But strangely I find that as the years roll by I tend to only add more emotional camouflage.

The more relationships I develop in this life, the more I realize this behavior is actually rather common. But the question is WHY? At what point did we come to define being loveable as meaning we must be a person that never behaves in such a way that would mean we would need make an apology? Where did we get the concept that we are only worthy of love when we behave as though we aren’t flawed?

The fabric of human nature is by definition riddle with imperfection. We are all aware that perfect people don’t exist so why do we waste our time trying to pretend we are one? It’s the intellectual equivalent of pretending the world is flat. You'd have a better chance of convincing the population that you are a unicorn or a descendent of Big Foot. Why waste so much energy marketing that which people aren’t buying in the first place? Its just simple economics, folks.
Some people claim love is a choice.....while others would tell you it’s a sacrifice or the ultimate act of service. And while at times it may be all of those things, it is first and foremost a GIFT......if it is performance driven or something you must work tirelessly to retain, people, that isn’t love.....that's called a JOB.

Love of the most profound kind is forged and fixed by the flaws. Certain bonds can only be formed by experiencing the less than ideal. It isn’t the blemishes themselves that do the binding, but rather the process of refining them that does. It’s like forging steel. It must be subjected to the intensity of heat in order to rid itself of the imperfections and become the most effective and malleable version of itself. If one chose to ignore the impurities within and casually construct something without purifying it first the product would simply be inferior. While it might have the desired appearance it likely wouldn’t have the strength to stand the test of time.
When we choose to keep parts of ourselves hidden from those we care about and who care about us, it’s really ourselves to whom we do the greatest damage. We obstruct from our lives one of the greatest of all human experiences......and in my humble opinion the kind of intimacy that makes being alive worthwhile....and that is being loved for no other reason than because you are YOU.....not in spite of yourself, but rather BECAUSE of it......mouth breather tendencies and all.

The beauty of the fallibility of human nature is the fact that it gives birth to uniqueness. If we were all cut from the same cloth of perfection, there would be no individualism. The truth is, it’s often that which we find the most odd or unlovable about ourselves that can with the right person be the very things that endear us to them the most.....and love like that is authentic as it gets.