The more I confess my frail humanity, the louder I hear the sound of another voice rising up in me, one that has some weight behind it. It is the voice of Hope, and Hope speaks with courage and a bit of a laugh. Because when those things we most fear will happen actually happen, we have a unique window of opportunity to take inventory of the battlefield in the aftermath. We look around, blink our eyes, listen to the quiet, and think to ourselves, I am not dead. That did not kill me after all.
It’s important, I think, to be able to stand up and say, “All that has happened to me, all that I have done, everything that has brought me to this moment, here, today; it’s part of my story and it’s shaped the person that I have become. But it isn’t the whole of me. My past doesn’t define me. My story doesn’t end here. I am more than this.”
I’m gonna need you to love me a little harder sometimes. Most days, I’ll act like I’m just fine. I’ll paint my smile across my face and wear it proudly. I’ll laugh loudly like I’ve never tasted sadness in my life. But other days, I will not be so strong. I will not walk boldly into the room, I will collapse into it. My vision of life will be clouded by darkness, and I will make my walls extra thick in hopes that you don’t notice. Please, notice. And when you do, pull me close. Hold me until we’re both too warm for anything else to matter. Let me breathe you in. Tell me that you love me, don’t stop until I respond, and then tell me again. I know this could be inconvenient for you, and I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be a bother, but sometimes I need to be told that I’m worth it.
Solitude, silence and fasting. Embracing the three most essential spiritual disciplines opens us to the deepest kind of risk: the risk of discovering who we really are, in all our flaws and confusion. Solitude forces us to step away from the continual affirmation of our authority by others; silence compels us to practice quietness rather than noisy self-assertion; fasting exposes our dependence on food and other good things to prop up our sense of agency and capacity.
All of them, practiced regularly, will humble us, bringing us up against our own limits and our own foolishness. Without solitude, silence and fasting, we have no true authority -we are captives of others’ approval, addicted to our personal soundtracks and chained to our pleasures. But on the other side of this vulnerability is true authority, grounded in something deeper than our circumstances.
Just be the freaking person who cares more. Be the person who tries harder, loves stronger, gives more of a shit than all of the half-alive people who surround them. Be the person who answers their messages, shows up to their commitments and doesn’t leave others hanging or guessing at their eternally vague intentions. Be the person you wish you were dating. If you’re sick of the game then stop playing it. If you’re tired of the bullshit, then cut it.
The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.