Take a minute (or more) to sit with this simple phrase. I first heard these words uttered by Judy, my dear friend and Catherine Place colleague. Hearing her use them prompted me, in time, to invoke them. This short string of words has become a touchstone, a litmus test, a path toward greater authenticity and honesty in my life.
“What is true” are the opening words in this three-part melody. Like many of you, I often know what is true for me in the first three seconds of an exchange. However, over the years, I developed a strong capacity to “override” my truth for one “good reason or another.” After many years of playing with these three words, I’ve come to learn that there are times when I’m absolutely clear about “What is true” and other times that require I step back and take some quiet time to check-in with myself before speaking or acting. Some of my favorite ways to sift into my truth happen on a brisk walk in the fresh air, as I lean and lengthen into myself on my yoga mat, or while washing dishes at the kitchen sink.
Waiting for “what is true” is uncomfortable for me and often inconvenient. In Tai Chi, we are taught to “do nothing when we don’t know what to do.” In a strive, drive world that seems to thrive on rapid responses, taking one’s time feels, at best, counter-cultural and, at other times, downright rebellious. And, yet, experience has taught me that the veracity of the outcome is indeed worth the wait — as unwieldy as it may seem. Some of the most difficult decisions for me to walk back were made when I was uncomfortable with or unwilling to wait.
The addition of the phrase “for me” to this short melody helps ensure we all understand that I am speaking only for myself, not for others. A free and independent spirit, I do not wish to assume that what is true for me will be or in any way needs to be true for you. This is not intended to disregard facts that can be proven, but rather to make way for an individual to share her or his truth from a grounded position of strength and confidence.
“Right now,” the last two words of the melody open the field of the conversation and life to space and grace. The one constant in life is change and “right now” anchors my truth in the present moment without nailing it down forever. Like many, I like direction and certainty. The inclusion of the words “right now” helps me avoid an unhelpful tendency toward control that has been well-honed through a lifetime of goals, plans, objectives, and contracts. As situations change and new information becomes available, and as I grow and change, “right now” offers me the latitude to hold people, circumstances and positions lightly and makes it clear that I am free and open to review, to reassess, to reconsider if and/or when something internally or externally changes.
There is a vibrancy, an aliveness, a joy to a life that flows. “What is true for me right now . . .” has allowed me to step calmly into that current of life rather than to swim upstream in someone else’s world. I hope you’ll join me.