The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Monday, February 27, 2006

The Authentic Journey

The Authentic Journey

There are two worlds: that of our internal experience, and that of our external, sensory experience.  And in many ways, all communication, political activism, creative work, sales and commerce is an attempt to reconcile the two.

What is sales, but a communication of enthusiasm between one person and another?  What is writing or acting but the attempt to create an emotional change in the viewer or reader, by channeling our own experience and imagination?  What is any relationship other than a daily attempt to communicate our needs, and to fulfill the needs  of others?  What, in fact, is any religion other than an attempt to grow in the image of the divine?

This very human struggle, which manifests in so many different fashions, both mundane and sacred, can be impossibly complex—or devastatingly simple.
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If we are to be successful salesmen, artists, leaders, teachers, or simply human beings, we must have a   world view. But we must also understand the way we gather information, and our method to determine if our ideas are accurate.   How can we address our customers’ needs if we don’t really understand human strength and frailty? How can a novelist create realistic characters if he indulges in massive self-deception? How can a parent or teacher   raise a child to maturity without actually maturing herself?

How, in other words, can we be certain that we actually know what we think we know?

Consider the possibility that we can increase the accuracy of our perceptions by examining our interactions with the three major aspects of our own lives: our physical vitality,  our career/contribution,  and our relationships—whether to a single individual or a vibrant Tribe.


1)
Body. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, we lose the spark of physical joy.  We lose the simple pleasure of play, and settle for “fitness” at best, and the negative spiral of obesity, fatigue, and disease at worst.  To reclaim our aliveness we must remember   what we have forgotten, and begin the process of re-awakening.  We must learn once again to stretch fully, to sweat joyously, to learn new dance steps, to challenge our limits, to find delicious the body we see in the mirror.  To begin this process is to open our eyes to the possibility we felt as children.  A good goal?  Doubling your physical energy.

2)
Career.   Our money flow is based upon many things, including the degree of service we provide for our communities, the self-respect that motivates us to demand what we are worth, and the intelligence and discipline with which we manage our finances. Creativity, empathy, determination, energy, honesty, risk-taking…all of these things factor in. One can either make more money, or develop the ability to find greater satisfaction within the current financial level. But without the ability to find peace and satisfaction here, much of the joy of life will elude you.  A good goal?  Sufficient resources and financial discipline to support yourself and two others.


3)Relationships. Some  crave monogamous love, others wish the comfort of a community of like-minded individuals.  Still others wish simply to be at peace with their inner world, to find the sense of wholeness available only to those who walk a sacred path.  Whatever  your bliss, it must begin with the connection between your deepest self, and the way you live your life.  However you conceptualize your “male” and “female” aspects, they must be balanced.  However you conceptualize your “child,” “adult,” and “elder” aspects, they must be in balance as well. The interplay between these five aspects determines a gigantic amount of  our emotional health.  A good goal?  The ability to face yourself in the mirror and say “I love you” with all your heart—and mean it.

There is an entire creative writing theory (“Dramatica”) that states that stories are merely conversations between the different aspects of a single personality.  There is a healing hypnotic modality (the “Parts Party”) that asks us to divide our psyche into different distinct personalities, and then have them talk to each other.  The possibility of effective advertising or sales only exists when we can actually understand the drives and needs of people other than  our gender, cultural or age group.  And relationships, of whatever intimacy level, are only possible if we can see through the masks of gender or individuality to see the universal truths of human beauty, spirit, and need.


Chose your goals in balance (one in each of the three arenas: physical vitality, career/contribution, and relationship/Tribe)  and as you progress toward them, you’ll learn things about yourself, and your life, that cannot be put into words.   And to get this effect they MUST be in balance:   your demons will hide in the corner illuminated least frequently. 

At the center of this triangle is the invisible factor: your actual being. Failure upon initial effort is an absolutely unavoidable part of the process of growth.  Note how you deal with failure, and listen to the internal demons as they whisper defeat.   It is in watching this “being” interact with these different aspects: failure and success, depression and exaltation,  that you begin to understand who you really are.  This is the beginning of mastery--the acceptance of life as it is, and the seeking of appropriately excellent performance at every moment of your life. When driving, drive. When reading, read. When exercising, exercise. When fighting, fight. When selling, sell.  When loving, love. When sleeping, sleep. Children know this. Adults forget it. It is the heart of   every evolved discipline in   history.

There are no easy answers. But there is greater and lesser clarity, greater and lesser balance. There is joy, and surrender to the process of work. There is chopping wood, and carrying water, knowing that a hot bath awaits at the end of the day.