Self truth…the journey

We live in a world where advice is like air; it’s everywhere, you can’t avoid it. Careers and fortunes have been made based off advice-givers telling others how to live, yet rarely does anyone ever really talk about the very real costs of creating change and getting the life that you want. Instead, like the average New Year’s resolution, we start off with high hopes and a few weeks or months in when we hit the wall of reality and discomfort starts to rise, we slowly slide back into the pit of just existing. The truth is that when we start to get real about our own self-care (another pithy little saying that is often devoid of the concrete) it leads us down the road to self-truth, and that’s when shit gets real. This is often the point that what we see in the mirror amazes us but it scares us. It scares us so bad that we flee the room, shut the door and run back to that which is familiar. Sometimes our joy can be found in the comfortable and if we can make peace with it, then it’s not a problem.

But sometimes, we can’t make peace with the comfortable or familiar. Sometimes the comfortable is not enough. Sometimes we bear the curse of the restless spirit that can’t stop seeking. And sometimes that seeking into our own truth will exact a toll higher than anything we could ever imagine.

My own journey to self-care and later self-truth started a number of years ago and was precipitated by mother’s untimely and premature death over a decade ago. Losing both my mother and grandmother in a short period of time required that I learn to not only mother myself but to nurture myself as well. In many ways, I have felt like Odysseus in search of Ithaca. The thing about a journey is that you think you know your destination but often you will veer off course and sometimes you don’t ever get back on track.

Self-care is a deceptive concept. We often think that it means taking a few hours for ourselves, a glass of wine, or making time to sleep in but sometimes those aren’t the answers. Sometimes to truly take care of ourselves is to sit in the mirror of life and figure out who we are at this moment, and contemplate the possibility of who we may become. What we see when we look straight into the mirror of our soul and don’t turn away or get scared is something with the potential to quell our restless spirit. But it can also destroy that which we hold dear. In that moment we face our inner Rhett Butler, do we give a damn or not?

In this moment, I ponder my own journey and leave you with a poem by C.P. Cavafy and your own journey.

As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.
Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbors you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn’t have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

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