“ I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to confront all the essential facts of life, and to see if I could learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, to discover that I had not lived. I wanted to live deep and suck out all of the marrow of life.” (Henry Thoreau)
In the last few weeks before the Federal election I felt overwhelmingly confronted by the media and both sides of politics accusing each other for “not being real”, namely putting on a mask or pretending to be someone or something they are not. The endless cynical catch-cry has been: “who is the real Julia or real Tony and can we really believe anything that they say or do?”
It begs the question as to what is truly real, and whether politicians, or for that matter any of us, are not being real, and who are we really presenting to ourselves and to the world?
And what is the truth of what’s happening around us? It is no wonder in this ‘unreal’ world that people question the validity of global warming, global financial crisis or even the threat of significant bush fires for Denmark when: “I don’t really see it”, “It doesn’t really affect me or my family and community” or even: “It’s not really that bad. It will all go away naturally.” It seems that unless we are literally broke or broken, or in extreme crisis, we hold tight to our business-as-usual ways and justify this emotional position by a popular mantra: “If it’s not broken don’t fix it!” We then feel justified to deny or diminish reality by ‘living in a daydream’, or continue being so preoccupied by our life dramas and ‘nightmares’ that we can avoid ‘living the dream’ we could be creating in our lives.
Why do we keep repeating this individual and collective pattern of denial and diminishing concerns and similarly minimizing opportunities to re-new life? Having worked over the last 30 years to enable people and organisations to become ‘well’, to become the best they can be, I believe the first step to real-ising ‘wellness’ is to face our truth, our vulnerabilities and weaknesses. In doing so we can begin to understand what is actually happening in our lives, organisations or communities. ‘Facing up to ourselves’ versus ‘putting on a face’, or in Thoreau’s words, confronting all “essential facts of life”, gives us the insights and motivation to learn better ways of responding deeply and creatively.
In this election we kept hearing about both parties ‘not having a big vision for this country’, choosing instead to stay with safe or small issues. Keeping the status quo at all costs hides bigger concerns that tend to return, often with a greater sting in the tail and greater impacts for generations to come.
Like the sunflowers turning to face the sun, Summer is the season for standing tall and facing directly our lives and circumstances. May this Summer be our essential Time for growing courage – to reconcile our past, to deal directly with our present circumstances, and to directly negotiate our future to ensure a truly Good Life, one that will make “all the difference” for all.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.” (Robert Frost)