Everybody wants to be authentic. Which is great. But how can we be authentic without knowing who we really are?
I don't know about you, but when I asked my parents and priest the "Who am I? Why am I here? What's life about?" questions, the priest told me, "It's beyond our comprehension. Go read the Bible and pray." And my parents said, "There are no answers to such questions. Go do your homework."
That's the kind of response most of us got growing up -- the kind of answers that are probably still being given to a lot of kids today. No wonder the world is so screwed up!
Authentically who? Authentically what?
Am I human? Am I spirit? A combination of both? How does that work?
Am I authentically a sinful person? Authentically an evolutionary upgrade to a lemur? Authentically capable of reaching for the stars? Authentically capable of wisdom? Authentically capable of following in Jesus' footsteps? Buddha's?
If I'm "only human" what does that mean? That my body is it? That my mind and all my hopes and fears and dreams and spiritual beliefs are just neurochemical processes in the brain? Does that mean it's futile to aspire to greatness? That I'm just an animal? That life is only about selfish genes, procreation, competition and survival?
But if I pierce some part of my body, how can I find that one spot that expresses the real me? The right tat that will tell the world, "Here I am!" The right color to dye my hair ... if I don't shave it off first.
Maybe shave half and dye the rest sky-blue pink?
And what if I change my mind? What if I wake up the morning after and my neurochemicals fire a whole new thought when I look in the mirror? "Hole crap! Who did that to my hair? I'm a totally different person today! My mood has changed. I'm purple today."
No wonder I'm authentically depressed.
What to do? Here are a few points to consider:
1) Be authentically honest with yourself and realize everyone goes through this. It's a human trait.
2) Desiring authenticity is of no value to lemurs--even the upgraded kind--and thus it's highly likely the desire has NOT been prompted by "animal you," selfish genes and neurochemicals in your brain.
3) Desiring authenticity means at some level you feel inherently inauthentic.
Which means ... what?
What could feeling inauthentic possibly mean? Maybe it's some kind of indicator?
Like, maybe living out life as a "human resource" isn't enough? That forced rote education-by-the-numbers is boring and soul-killing and meaningless? (Unless, of course, your aim in life is to become a human resource to some corporation. Then, by all means, enjoy the current ride.)
How about formal religion is a dead-end? A rote, by-the-numbers rulebook handed down from ignorant peoples past that no longer satisfies the raging spirit within longing for authentic expression?
Ditto for material goods. We've finally reached the point in human evolution where a two-car garage full of crap doesn't bring us happiness anymore. Hallelujah! It's a sign!!!!
It's a sign we aren't just evolved monkeys. If humanity was just "animal me" life would be fulfilling as long as the means for survival, a solid roof overhead and six squares a day were assured. The education and religious systems--no matter how creaky--would be sufficient to keep people in line. The latest phone app and model car and a Keurig coffeemaker spewing out a ton of plastic garbage per person per year into the landfills would bring total happiness.
But they don't.
Which means ... there's something else going on. There's more to us than meets the eye. We're far more than just advanced animals or a bag of chemicals walking around. Which begs the question: Okay then ... what/who are we really?
Asking this question - diving deep - using every resource to find answers and not just accept pitiful outworn platitudes ... wow! What would that be like? What would it be like if kids nowadays were taught to think about these things? Encouraged to ask these questions? Encouraged to research and compare religions and cultures and spiritual systems for answers? Learn to meditate? Experiment with art and music? Encouraged to let their souls sing?
Sure - maybe we'd still have a lot of pink hair in the world. But the minds beneath the fancy do's would be a hell of a lot more open and adventurous. And no doubt few would make the mistake of thinking pink hair was a sign of authenticity ever again.