Your Work Is to Discover Your Work and Then With All Your Heart to Give Yourself to It. • Buddha

May 5, 2010

All the wonders you seek are within yourself.
• Sir Thomas Browne

Authenticity obsesses me. I suspect that it obsesses many people, this desire to feel at home in our skin, finding our place in the larger world while also finding who we were born to become. The becoming of authenticity seems to me to be an ongoing—and sometimes frustrating—process. Be•coming. It is here, yet not here, always tantalizingly ahead. I know who I am, but I also know that there is much more that I could be.

Like Dorothy and the Tin Man and the Scarecrow and the Lion searching for what they need, I see my authentic self shimmering in the distance like a green mirage. Will I reach it? And when I do, will I find some resting place or will new adventures await? Will I ever be satisfied with myself? Do I want to be? Is it possible to be both satisfied and striving? These are central conundrums in my life.

There are many paths to choose among, and while my choices are not infinite and are bounded by the realities of family, talents, and many other already self-imposed limitations that I live with mostly happily, I still must choose daily where to focus my energies.

Authenticity is a path. It is not a destination, but rather an ongoing series of choices. I make them imperfectly. I am too tired one evening to give my full attention to commenting on students’ papers. I get drawn into the joy of being with a class and forget a crucial issue I’d planned to discuss. The presentation I planned is less wonderful than it could have been because there is not always time to be fully wonderful. If I pick and pull at my attempts, they are easily unraveled. Yet this too is authentic. Authenticity is not perfection.

What is your work? Who are you be•coming? What challenges are you encountering along the way?

The longest journey
Is the journey inwards.
Of him [or her] who has chosen his [or her] destiny,
Who has started upon his quest
For the source of his being.
• Dag Hammarskjold


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