Fifteen months ago on my 40th birthday, I wrote that my gift to myself was going to be to finally live my authentic life. Though I wasn’t bold enough to call it that then, that day was really an announcement of the journey that I was going to take to figure out what my authentic life really was. Today, I am trying to think of a way to celebrate because I think that I am here. I certainly don’t think the journey is over, but I realized that the road seems to be a lot flatter and the journey a little easier and that I am truly happy. (How did that happen?!)
Probably six months ago, maybe more, I reached a point where I was really stuck. As I envisioned it, I came walking out of the deep woods, carrying a heavy pack, sweaty and dirty and tired. I walked out into a clearing and. . . looked straight up at this enormous mountain rising out of the trees, its summit obscured by mists. In that moment, I dropped the pack and sat in the dirt, starting at that God damned mountain, feeling utterly defeated because I’d already been walking for a long time and was ready for my journey to end, only to be confronted with an insurmountable obstacle. I kicked at the dirt, cursed a string of words that would have shocked my grandmother, and growled in anger at the unfairness of it all. I sat there, staring at that %&^%*% mountain for days or weeks, knowing what it was and trying to figure out a way around it or over it, but I could not find a solution. Finally one day, I said, “To Hell with you!” I shouldered my pack and went back the way I came, into the deep woods.
I haven’t been thinking about my mountain all of these last months, but I realized today that I must have been walking around it. Today, I envisioned again walking out of the woods, brushing aside a few last branches and walking out into the sunlight, looking ahead at a clear road with nothing on either side. I turned back to look behind me and I saw that mountain, no longer shrouded in mist, and BEHIND ME. In this moment, I’m still staring at it in disbelief because I’m astounded that it’s behind me. I never climbed it. I never saw it in all of these months of walking, but there it is, behind me. I don’t really know how it happened either, but sometime during all of those months of walking around that mountain, I became happy. I’ve been happy for a while and actually telling people, “Yes, this is what happy looks like on me. You’ve not seen it in a long time.” But, somehow it still didn’t dawn on me until today. As I stared at that mountain behind me, I thought, “Wait a minute! I’m happy. I’m actually happy!” That’s why I feel like celebrating. It sneaked up on me, but I’m living my authentic life and I’m looking forward to the road ahead. (Oh, and that heavy pack? I’m leaving that %^& thing at the mountain.)