Monday, May 9, 2011

Go Deeper

I read an interview in Writer's Digest this week with best-selling author Pat Conroy, and his top advice to writers was "go deeper". This resonated with me, but I'm only now coming to an understanding of how much bravery is required to dig deep within ourselves to write about what we believe and feel as truth. It's certainly not popular with everyone, but I've been learning to be okay with not making others happy. I'm writing now to satisfy myself, in a way that I simply wasn't able to before, and the emotional depths I've reached have encouraged me to go deeper.

I know that there is a place for surface chatter in our lives, but after a series of recent lay-your-soul-bare conversations with a friend, I find the "hi, how are things?" chats so frivolous by comparison. I know we can't always go deep in all of our relationships all of the time, as that would be exhausting, but it's a bit like fast food compared to a gourmet meal. One is quick and efficient and empty calories, and the other is an experience to be savoured and enjoyed, and the memory stays with you for a longer period of time.

Perhaps the answer is to have a good mix of both. Not everyone is comfortable going deep into their emotions in a discussion and I must respect that. I think I've always hungered for this connection with others, and have been disappointed when I can't reach it or sustain it with people. I used to think something was wrong with me, but now I see it differently.

The meat of this life is found in the deepest layers of our human experience, and sharing that with someone is a beautiful thing. Where I find it, I treasure the relationship, and where it doesn't exist, I have to accept that too. There is no substitute for a true heart connection with someone, and the best way I know to get there is to bravely face my own emotions and simply dive in.

I don't want to live controlled by fear. I walked that road once, and now I'm on another road, where I don't have to fear my emotions. They are part of me, and make me who I am, if I will strive to be genuine and match up my words to my actions. I want to be the same person in all situations, and that involves going deep with how I feel, and not being afraid to communicate what I see as truth in any situation.

Our school district is recognizing the value of "emotional intelligence" and making it part of the daily culture in our schools. I am inspired by this, and encouraged that the importance of emotional health is climbing higher on the societal priority list. I have always known it to be of value, but didn't have a term for it or the confidence to talk about it before. It's about knowing ourselves, and being authentic, and going deep in our relationships as a result.

Fear holds us back from this, but once we decide to move forward in spite of our fears, we find that pretending was much harder than being honest. If you are always honest, and take responsibility for yourself and not for others, you don't have to worry about your stories and personalities matching up. You will have less to hide and more to give. There is a freedom which cannot be manufactured any other way except by living with authenticity. Until I experienced it, I had no way to understand it or believe it, but now I'm 100% sold.

No matter how deep I go, there is always more room to grow. This idea keeps life exciting. We are never done with change and personal growth. One step leads to another, which takes us somewhere we have never been. It's a journey that has no end, and no limit, except the ones we place on ourselves. Going deeper has brought me so much joy, and I can hardly wait to see what I can learn next.

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