Recently I read an article on Tara Brach, a well-known meditation teacher, where she told the story of a woman who works doing palliative care. It seems that the most common thing this woman hears as people are dying is that they were not true to themselves.
Really, really take that one in. Let it penetrate so deeply that you cannot possibly ignore its impact. Let it disturb you enough to make a change. For if you can imagine what it would feel like to be at the end of your life, and realize that you had not been true to who and what you are, you are in a position to change that fate. So, imagine the personal regret. The devastation. The heartbreak. And then, take it further by imagining the loss as not only being your own, but being the loss of everyone you ever met or were in relation to. And imagine how that loss would keep rippling out; emanating from a center point of falseness, while reaching further and further and further into the world.
Devastating is not nearly big enough, not even close, to capture what we are talking about here. For what we are talking about here is missing, due to mislabeling, THE VERY MOST IMPORTANT THING OF YOUR WHOLE ENTIRE LIFE. In Truth, there is nothing else you are meant to be doing here other than to figure out who and what you are, and to find ways, large and small, to be true to that. And only that.
And yet, we find endless ways to chip away at holding true to who we really are. We find numerous avenues to get so sidetracked that we no longer even know what it would mean to be true to ourselves. We take on versions of who we are, lacking in truth and resonance, because that is what we were told, or because we find it far too arduous to dig in and commit to throwing off the lies: all of what it is, that is not us. We then go on to not only accept, but to defend with all our might, what is false. And we then go on to call it who we are.
Regularly we forget that this most sacred and time-honored endeavor is far more important than how much money we make. Whether or not others agree with us, or even how much they like us. It is more important than where we live, what our job is, or how much we weigh. It matters more than where our kids go to college, the ring on our finger, or the car we drive. Whether we had good luck or bad luck, whether others got us or not, and whether or not we were famous. It is more important then the latest iPhone, putting someone in their place, or keeping up with the news or latest must-see episode.
We “sell out” all the time and for all kinds of reasons. We then go on to legitimize why it is OK to diminish, hide and falsify who we are. And we act as if all of the diminishments and dings we submit ourselves to are not that important. Are no big deal. Are worth the cost of belonging, safety, and other worldly measures. But a day of reckoning is surely coming for each and every one of us.
Will you be ready? Will you be able to measure up to the unwavering, the unapologetic and the unforgiving clarity of death in terms of who and what you have been? For what we all know, deep down inside, but somehow choose to ignore, is that there is no clearer lens, no truer test of how we have done in this regard than being at the end of it all.
But being at the end of it all leaves no time. So what do you say? How about now? How about not letting another moment go by where you leave being untrue to yourself, unchecked.