“There’s never been more pressure to kind of parcel yourself… It’s never been more asked of us to show up as only slices of ourselves in different places. Even just to feel like you’re showing up as your whole self in different settings is a pretty rebellious act.”
Courtney Martin – Do It Anyway
I’m on the road again. This time beautiful Wellington. Last night I lay in my hotel bed, far from home, listening to the sound of rain falling against a tin roof, drumming me to sleep.
I’ve spent much of my life, like most of us who live in the industrialised world, struggling with how to work well, live well and love well. I’ve never felt comfortable with the idea that I need to find a balance, to measure each section of my life up and weigh them out with fairness. Giving each equal attention as if they were small children pulling against me for more. Is it too simplistic to expect that our whole round lives can be so easily sliced up and kept in balance? I think so. I find it exhausting to try and hold everything in balance. I find it invites me to resentment and disappointment and has me wanting to give up on one to focus on the other.
I really warm to David Whyte’s sense of Work, Self and Others as being a marriage and a conversation. Each one informing the other and at times stretching and pushing the other to go further and be more.
These past few years I have given so much of myself to my work, at times feeling that my whole self was being consumed by my efforts to create some improvement in healthcare. But when I look more closely I had really given my whole self to life. I had opened my arms wide as I inched out onto this tightrope and let myself be ready for whatever happened next. I discovered that I belong to myself.
“Work is a constant invisible question, sometimes nagging, sometimes cajoling, sometimes emboldening me; at its best beckoning me to follow a particular star to which I belong.”
The more I understood that I belong to myself and that my whole life and my whole self could not be separated, the more I started to show up in tact. Fully showing up is a radical act that brings about such a fundamental shift in our connection with others. Fully showing up at work and at home and with ourselves in one of the most powerful ways we can enact change. It doesn’t mean showing up as a super-hero – it means showing up in all your vulnerability and following your purpose.
Our work as radicals and social activists is not about producing things, it is about discovering what the world wants from us and what we in turn want from the world.