Be True to Thine Own Self:  Your Strength, Your Purpose

“How did you survive it all?” She asks, as I sip my Hemingway martini over our sushi lunch.

The grapefruit tickles the back of my throat as I watch her wonder at me, but I can only ask her in return, “How are you so simply strong through all you face?”

She tells me to slow down, the martini’s at Stuffed Olive are fabulously devilish, then laughs, “I am not strong.”

She has recently read my novel, Restitution, and wonders how I could have come up from a beaten and abused child-hood, faced homelessness, given a child up for adoption, and yet still remained to tell the story in a way that blew the hope of ink dust into the hearts of those hungry to read of bad things finding purpose.

I watch her for  a moment and see her how I wish she could see herself, that she has the infinite gift of facing mountains with a stoic grace and that despite my ability to write my mountains, she is just as strong. If not, at times, stronger.  I see, in her eyes, the reflection of a wise mother, a stable friend, and a loving wife – the living without confusion in her ability to simply know what is good, what is right, and to move with consistency towards the giving of herself.

She, like me, like all- has faced down the skeletons in her closet, but unlike me she does not need or desire to pull them out, dance around with them, and dress them up in pretty clothes for all the world to see.  For her, it is what it is and there’s nothing more to do with it.  I’ve called her many times for advice, when I’ve run out of justifications, if only to find some release in the confusion she will tell me, “Stop over-thinking it.  Just do what’s right.”

I order a water and reach across the table, hold her hand so she feels me being truly present, “Your strength comes from a knowing, and in all things you face I watch you without confusion, without fear, and your spirit is strong.  You know black and white, but aren’t afraid of color.  You don’t struggle to clearly define the way in which you’ll walk.  That, my friend, is strength.”

She orders herself a martini, “See, you do that.  How do you do that?”

I spit the weird Calamari and Salmon roll into my napkin, knowing it’s my fault for ordering something ridiculous just because it looked strange enough to attempt, and she tells me that she told me so.

“That’s the difference between us.   It’s the same strength, it just looks different,” I say, wiping away the remains.

She laughs, “You order the weird stuff, drink too many martini’s, write books, and in the weirdest  and strangest of ways you can make me want to live louder than I could ever find the audacity to do.  I had a better child hood, I didn’t face nearly as much as you, but you’re the one sitting across from me full of life, laughing and telling me that I’m the strong one.”

I order another Hemingway and smile, “But without you, I wouldn’t have a ride home.”

She picks another edimame from the bowl, wipes the salt away, “You’re right.  You need me.”

Strength comes in all colors, it’s only in the way we have the courage to paint the world that the true art of living exists.   How do you paint your world?  Do you have people in your life whose strength is different from you own, and what have they taught you?  Do you desire to have authentic friendship?  Start by igniting your inner truths, you’ll be amazed at who wants to be warmed and inspired by your fire!