Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Just Who Will You Be - Maria Shiver

I tore out three pages of a magazine I found lying on the office table. The life experience of the interviewed woman spoke to the inner chords of my soul that were defraying, detangling, and coming undone in the season of life of learning to “let go”. I read the particular article three more times in the Spring. And after returning from a Los Angeles trip, CK left a gift for me in my car--it was the book from which the article was based.

I’m a life philosopher, so unlike those who simply live their lives day by day until they wake up one morning and realize that 50 years have gone by…I am one who continually thinks about life, the meaning of life, and how to live it authentically, passionately, and faithfully. Living life with passion comes easy at times and hard at others. My recent struggle has been to let go of a career path that I not only have put an absorbent amount of energy into, but one that I am actually doing well and succeeding in. With the awards and accolades earned over the years, I am expected to walk a certain path. The challenge is to align my life actions with my heart, convictions, and beliefs. It’s a fight, but one worth fighting for. It's a fight for the authentic me, and the authentic life of integrity I seek to live.

The article I mention was an interview conducted between Maria Shriver and Oprah. Maria is the former NBC newscaster and the First Lady of California (married to the state Governor Arnold Swartzenneger). Yes, only in California do we elect Hollywood actors (Arnold and Ronald Regan) to public office. The interview touched me because Maria reflects upon the inward changes in her life at age 50. Growing up as a Kennedy, she lived to fulfill the high expectations placed on her to "change the world". And she did. Maria intentionally chose a career outside the political light and worked her way from the bottom up in the television news industry while leading volunteer community campaigns on the side. One day after 25 years of service she was unexpectedly fired from her job. Devastated, she had never failed at anything and had spent invested hours and years working her way to the top. This devastation however led her on an inward journey to finally free herself...and allow herself to receive the gift of living out her true life from the inside out. In the last pages of her book “Just Who Will You Be” Maria writes:

“I was always scrambling to live up to the myth, always worried others would think I wasn’t fulfilling my role. I now realize that’s no way to live. Many of you may also feel that you’re scrambling to fulfill your roles in everybody’s life but your own. You may feel you’re not entitled to show up as anyone but the perfect student, the perfect son or daughter, the perfect spouse or partner, the perfect employee or parent. (82)

…But what I’ve come to understand is that we are first and foremost human beings in our own right. We’re entitled to our own lives, our own dreams and goals, our own legacies. (83)

…Now that I’m no so obsessed about whether I measure up to other people’s expectations, I’ve found anew gentleness and kindness in myself, for myself and for others. What matters most to me now is what I expect of myself. What matters most to me now is that I know myself—what my heart feels, what my inner voice is telling me.

…But most important, I will try to live an authentic life that feels true to me—which means living life as myself, not an imitation of anyone else, and not the reflection of myself in anyone else’s eyes.” (88)

I thank DP for the O magazine and CK for the thoughtful book. Both gifts speak volumes into my soul.

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