There is the authentic and the inauthentic, the genuine and the sham, the fraudulent, the lie. There is our original nature, the face that was ours before we were born, and there is the shoe that does not fit, the life we are told to live, the person the culture requires us to be. What we do to make a living takes the life right out of us. And it is our role, our adventure, to get the life back into us by living the life that is our life to live, and being the authentic, genuine, natural, original human being that we are born to be. "We are the sculptor and we are the stone" (Alexis Carrel). And it is time we get to work. The life that remains to be lived is what we have to work with, and there is not a moment to spare. Our work is to bring ourselves forth into our life, and there is no greater contradiction, contrast, polarity, dichotomy than this one. We are born into a culture of expections and restrictions, limits and possibilities and ways things have to be done-- never mind what needs to be done. We step out of the womb into a room filled with ideas of the right way to be. We are handed a life from the start that is somebody else's idea of the life we are to live. This is the "primary mask" that will make the important people in our life very happy with us. But (And this is where it gets interesting), we already have a mask, that isn't a mask at all, but a "face that was ours before we were born" just dying for a chance to show its stuff to the world. This is the "antithetical mask" that is against all the ideas the culture will try to sell us throughout our life (The terms "primary" and "antithetical" originate with Y.B. Yeats), And we have to decide from the start-- and again and again throughout our life-- whose side we are on. And make the adjustments that are constantly required to accommodate ourselves to what is expected of us by our external environment and by our internal makeup. This is Yin/Yang to the core, and our place is to balance the opposites, to harmonize the contraries, and make peace with the polarities, in light of William Blake's observation, "Without contraries is no progression!" Our original nature clashes with the circumstances of time and place. We are born for this and we have to do that to pay the bills. What are we going to do? We have to work it out. This is hell and it is heaven. It will kill us and it will restore us to life. It is the thing that is ours to do, that we must do while the light lasts. Throw everything into finding the life that is authentically, genuinely, your life to live, and find ways to live it in and around the things you do to pay the bills. Negotiation and compromise, Kid. Negotiation and compromise. How you do it is up to you, but do it, you must. And the time to start is now. What is yours to do? What is your life to live? How are you going to do it? Those are your questions to answer in the way you live your life. I suggest taking all of your questions with you into the right kind of emptiness, the right kind of stillness and the right kind of silence, and trusting yourself to what you find waiting for you there. And let the adventure unfold before you as you endeavor to live it day by day through all the days of your life.
"The adventure we get is the adventure we are ready for" (Joseph Campbell). If we are not on an adventure it is because we aren't ready for it, and didn't have what it takes every time the train left the station. That doesn't mean we will never have an adventure-- our life is our adventure, and it is waiting for us to live it the way it needs to be lived. Are you up for it is the question. All of our adventures require us to have the courage to say yes to what is being asked of us. Looking back over my life, I can spot the places where I had the courage to do what was being asked of me, and where I did not have the courage. And that alone is the sole determinant bringing me to this place in this time. The same thing can be said for you. What we have the courage for at any point in our life is the fulcrum levering our future into place. Do not get down on yourself for not having the courage to do what comes along! If you had thrown yourself into it that would have been the tragedy, or the comedy, that knocked you out of being here, now. We have to say yes to the life we are living even if that means saying no to the opportunity that is before us in any moment. Saying yes to our lack of courage shuts out one future and opens up another. And here we are. Now what? Now we do what we have the courage for in this time and place, and see where it goes. Letting our courage be our guide through all the days left for living.