Putting our best foot forward has it’s place, but not in our personal relationships with friends and family. We’re not doing ourselves any favors by masking or ignoring the whirlwind of longings and feeling we have underneath the surface. Tragedy comes out of nowhere and can strip away everything we love in a second, and that’s when we demonstrate who we really are. That’s when the whirlwind unveils.
My main argument here: Tragedy reveals knowledge of the true self, and it surprises us because we thought we already knew… but we were wrong.
We are not who others think we are
Many people fear being exposed as a fraud. That’s not just paranoia. No human being can possibly know us, not even our spouse or best friend. Every person on earth is pumping a steady stream of unbelievably complex interactions with reality, making millions of choices stacked on one another, reasoning based on millions of unique experiences no one else experienced. Even you can’t remember all the data behind you. So don’t worry-the stuff people see is always just the tip of the iceberg, and you’re not a fraud unless you’re living like there’s nothing under the surface.
But at least we know who we are right?
We are not who we think we are
In short, we are a mystery. We are neither a result of our choices and experiences, nor a product of our circumstances. When tragedy strikes we see a glimpse of this because grief and pain and the shock of loss feel unnatural and sickening. It’s deeper than our tears. It’s the soul in pain.
In those moments we have a unique glimpse into ourselves. It is not always pretty. That’s because underneath we are all messed up people who cling desperately to a life that is guaranteed to end.
The real reason for faith
This is the real reason so many people believe in the soul. Trying to find some comfort for the afterlife is an action, not a reason. The reason is we long for love and joy and peace and satisfaction and we do not find it in this world. Thus, we accept that there must be something else out there, and some of us find it.
Who are we then??
Who would you be with less sleep? Who would you be if you lost your job? If your loved ones died? If your health failed? If you were forced into prostitution? If you were bankrupted? You would be you, of course.
A soul is what you are at your worst. But that’s fine because a boxer who has never been pulverized by the world champion will never become the world champion. Here’s the secret to being your best.
Your are your best at your worse
Make choices that reflect a healthy attitude of humility. Everything you have could be gone tomorrow, even your life. But “you” will still be you. Sweeping things under the surface causes a massive pressure build up that explodes during tragedy, so be your best by venting that pressure with your friends and family. Be authentic. Be “You.”
In the future, I’ll tackle some actions we can take to let your soul breathe.