This is my fifteen-year-old son’s favorite expression of late. It applies to everything from the right snack selection to a teacher’s grading system. Sometimes it also applies to the meaning that I try to live: about being authentic with the people that mean the most to us.
Authentic communication requires vigilance and presence. Slipping into habitual behaviors that offer protection and cover is easy and comfortable. Staying awake and open is work. I witness this everyday in the myriad of relationships that fill up my life. Balancing the needs of others with our own needs, taking time to listen instead of talk, finding compassion for what might seem petty- this is the work.
There is no easy answer to the how of this work. It is just like the daily work on a farm- every day you wake up and start it all over again. I am overcome with the messiness of it all sometimes. I find solace in the recognition that the messy, weighty relationship parts of life are the only ones that have the soul to transform us. They give us the reason to learn how to be patient, kind and more loving. Or as my son would say – it is “keeping it real.”