Yup, that’s me first thing the the morning after a night in my trusty tent. Ok, well, I may have run that photo through a few Instagram filters, but mostly me. Love it? I’m not sure I do. I mean my hair? hiding. Glasses from another decade, maybe century? Yeah. Zits, sunburn, wrinkles? All there in morning glory. So do I love this picture? Look at my smile. That’s all real, just like the rest of the details. I’m not perfect, but in that moment, I was happy. And as the song goes, “If you’re happy and you know it, your face will surely show it.”
That when you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You appreciate it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree.
The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying “You’re too this, or I’m too this.” That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.
I will say that the sentiment voiced by Ram Dass rings very true to me. (Read the rest of his essay of Self-Judgement here) In those moments, when I’m in the woods or on the water and feeling the strength in my arms and legs, the sun (or rain) on me, I do accept and love myself as I am in that moment. I love the way my body moves, the way everything functions together and as I achieve my goals. I’m not thinking about what size pants I’m wearing, or if I’ll look photo worthy in my next selfie.
The funny thing is, things don’t have to be going swell, for me to love the way I feel and what I’m doing. Sometimes, when the day is crashing, I just let my instincts take over. Last weekend, we capsized two canoes and lost paddles in borderline hypothermia conditions. But in that moment, I knew what to do, and that made me feel great. I sized up the situation and gave directions to get everyone to safety. I alerted the rest of the crew, and they jumped into action. There’s something about trusting your gut, and trusting your crew that makes everything right with the world. And when everything’s right with the world, you don’t stop to think about what you look like, or what other people are thinking.
Getting to that point, where you have a good crew and you have the knowledge, skills and instincts that you need to deal with a crisis. That doesn’t happen overnight. It happens over time. It’s making the decision to learn skills, it’s making the decision to test yourself, it’s thinking ahead about what could happen.
I guess my point is, life isn’t a moment, it’s all the moments. It’s all the decisions you’ve made that lead you to THIS moment, and it’s where this moment takes you next. If this moment isn’t what you wish it could be, make a change, make a decision to go in another direction. So that someday, you WILL be happy with your moments.
So where do you go to be your most authentic self? If not now, then what will you change to be comfortable being yourself in the future?