By Lee McCormick
Co-author, Spirit Recovery Medicine Bag
I’ve been around a while, 58 years in fact. As many of us have come to realize, there’s more to living life than what the official story might have us believe. This great maze and matrix of human dreams, structures, realities and cultures seems to have more in common with Shakespeare’s “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages,” than we might realize! We all have the opportunity to look in the mirror and ask the big question—Who am I, really?
Over the last 17 years, I have lived a continuous thread of questioning, seeking, wondering, listening and finally feeling my way in and around my life’s path. What began as a need to address my issues in life opened up to a deeper, much greater opening to “Who am I really?” And “What am I living as this life of mine?“
There was a compelling feeling of something missing, something deep and powerful at the centre of my awareness that wouldn’t leave me be. This feeling couldn’t be put away by the stories of identity that I wore as masks in the world, those same stories that, with inquiry, seemed to melt away: concepts of being a Rancher or Musician, Writer, Father, Son, Addict, Recovering Person, Business Owner—all identities that I stepped in and out of depending on the day, moment, place and time. I realized one day that no matter which role I was in, I was always me, Lee, the one on the inside of this external world of roles.
The question of “Who am I, really?” is a question of authenticity. As human beings, we are multifaceted beings. There’s the Mind, Body, Spirit perspective. Then there are personality, ego, heart, passion, and the goods, bads, rights and wrongs of our beliefs and opinions. We experience ideas and feelings—concepts that come clearly as structured thoughts and ideas, or that manifest as intuitions. All of these represent different frequencies, different sources of inspiration and motivation. With all the many aspects of our life experience, there is always one underlying, “Who am I, really?”
Authenticity is the true self… the honest, clear-perspective self. There can also be other aspects to this question of authenticity. One aspect is the reasoning mind’s sense of self, of truth, of I know who I am. Reason is our processing centre, our database of facts, figures, information and experiences, all downloaded onto the hard drives of our minds. The experience of authenticity as reason is based in familiarity. We have a sense of comfort with what is familiar to us. The roles we live are very familiar and thus it’s easy to attach to a role as a perception of the authentic self. The challenge to that is when the roles change, we fall out of character and often feel lost or broken as a result.
When the connection to authenticity is taken to a deeper, more grounded place within us, we might realize: “I am not the roles or stories of my life. I am the One who has lived all these roles and stories. I am the One experiencing living, as though the stories were me and the ride of life that brings change, ups, downs, rounds and rounds.
“Yet, just as I may believe I am those voices in my head that I constantly hear, then who’s listening? If I am my roles as my authenticity, how is it I have survived so many changes, shifts and re-incarnations in this one lifetime?”
Authenticity—as our deeper, greater consciousness—allows us the freedom to live life and not be limited by our roles and identities. As is said in many esoteric traditions: “We are the Light, not the body.” In our most genuine authentic presence, we are all the aspects that make us human, all at the same time, all together. We are the whole of our being and more, since we are an expression and aspect of the Great Mystery that is the source of all life. Of course, there are many, many stories, religious views, and explanations of the Mystery, all created by humans to help us get a grip on what cannot be held.
The authentic self is that feeling, that intuition that is so subtle, yet powerful, when you have a decision to make. Once we broaden our awareness beyond our reasoning minds’ structures and rules, and we soften our minds’ perception to allow for the more refined aspects of awareness, knowledge and understanding to come through—we move into a place of true authenticity, where we have more questions than answers and more faith in the unknown than the known. We are authentically present with faith in ourselves as an aspect of the whole of life.
A genuinely authentic person is real, honest, open, and I might say free to be who they are—with no need for apologies and explanations. He or she is Light from Light, an expression of Life. Beyond our roles—with all the trappings of stories and rules and best attempts to fit in (our security blanket in life)—we are always a shift in attention away from holding our awareness with ease.
Authenticity, then, is feeling the nature of our choices, thoughts, ideas, and feelings and listening from that deeper place of Heart, Soul and Spirit. Reason is indeed a great tool in life, but reason has its limitations, as all reason is tied to the structures, roles, definitions and beliefs of the past, while the depth of authenticity as a Human Being is of spirit/consciousness/mystery/the present moment. Allow yourself the freedom to listen and feel and live from that place with intention and grace. For the ride of your Life, balance using reason and honouring emotion, with your most authentic self front and centre.