Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Writing a Better Story

So, it is 2016.

For some time, I have been pondering writing a "New Year's post" or something deep and meaningful to mark the passage into a new year.

It seems trite. Contrived. So I didn't.

Last year-- which was, in most ways, very trying and challenging-- Sarah and I started talking about 2016 being "The Year We Become Better Writers." It was her idea, and we sort of adopted it. From time to time, we would use that saying interchangeably with "2016 is the Year We Write a Better Story."

How? Better than what?

The self-development and enlightenment business-- and even pop culture, these days-- uses a lot phrases like "we create our own reality."

Which-- from where I am sitting-- amounts to little more than a dressed up version of "choices have consequences" or "you reap what you sow."

I look around me in this world, and it seems to so often live by a paradigm of people either wanting to reap things they never sowed... or people who want to reap before they have sowed. We are really not very good "farmers" in our own lives, anymore... maybe our capitalist consumer society has done too good a job of teaching people to "party and enjoy NOW" and "do the work and pay later." I see this all the time, on forums and in groups of even "evolved" people.

Maybe my expectations are unrealistic; perhaps because I happen to be married to one of the few truly conscious people I have ever met...

But that's really a sidetrack... and not related to "Writing A Better Story," except (perhaps) as a cautionary statement about staying mindful of the intentions of the world around you.

Which brings me back to the whole Consciousness and Mindfulness business.

In order to write a Better Story for our lives, you have to know what that looks like. Simply saying "a better story" is little more than saying "I want to make more money next year!" At the end, you made $28,010 instead of $27,995 for the year... and voila, "goal accomplished," but was that actually what you wanted?

It's difficult to Write A Better Story without taking time to identify precisely what you want that story to be.

At least, if you don't, you expose yourself to the very likely possibility that your "story" isn't actually what you had in mind. Choices have consequences.

And you have to know what you truly like, and don't like... and what you're realistically willing-- and able-- to do to get from point A to point B.

Some would say "Yeah, but I have a pretty clear sense of what it would feel like, at the end!"

Whereas that may be true, there's a whole bunch of stuff that comes between "here" and "at the end." And you can't just ignore it.

"Yeah, but a benevolent Universe (or "God" or "The Force" or whatever) should know what makes me happy!"

In my 50-some years on this planet, I have never quite figured out what to do with such assertions... but they always have the feel-- to me-- of being a way of "passing off" accountability for our choices and actions to "something else," rather than being accountable for the fact that our action A results in outcome B.

Of course, I can only know what it's like to live in my shoes.

Some would say "you have to have faith!"


But tossing a handful of random seeds on a patch of dirt and then becoming all butt-hurt because they don't turn into the field of sunflowers you wanted... and then blaming "God" or "The Universe" for not giving you what you wanted... makes absolutely no sense to me.

Perhaps this all sounds very "Common Sense 101," but I find it remarkable how many expect "something" to come from "almost nothing," or from "something else."

So in order to Write a Better Story, we not only have to know what the story truly IS, we have to be willing to sit down and personally write all the chapters that make up that story. Could someone/something else write the story for us? Sure... but then we must live with the consequence that it might no longer be the story we wanted.

We have to do the work.

Consciousness and Mindfulness is a LOT of work! And maybe part of the reason it often seems like we don't get what we want (or hope for) is precisely that we "go to sleep" and allow external factors to not only disrupt our true story, but actually write the story for us.

And it just doesn't turn out well.

So, the Better Story for 2016 remains "under production," because first there must be a clearly defined plot. And then, there is lots and lots of writing to be done...

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Life, Death and the Love of a Gray Tabby Cat

Our Kramer kitty left this earthly plane today. His frail body-- suffering the ravages of chronic kidney disease-- had grown too tired and weak for him to enjoy any remaining quality of life with us. And so, we said a tearful goodbye and allowed him to move on to the Great Big Beyond. His departure, even if a little unexpected, was a reminder that life is-- ultimately-- a one-way ticket.

Death is a strange thing.

I remember when my dad died... I was 18, and we were still living in Spain. My parents were divorced, and I was living with my mom. We got a phone call... he had died quietly in his sleep. He was only 60, and it was completely unexpected.

I remember my mom and I (they were still good friends) driving the 15 minutes to his house and seeing his lifeless body on the bed before the coroner allowed him to be taken away... in a dark green SEAT ambulance with a white cross on the side. It was the first time I had seen a dead person.

I remember my main feeling in the moment being that it felt strange that I would never speak to him again. I tried to muster some other kind of deeper feelings; some form of "dramatic sorrow" like you see in movies... but it would be months and years before I truly parsed his passing.

We went to Denmark, and he was laid to rest in the family plot in one of Copenhagen's largest cemeteries. I observed... and felt a strange sort of guilt at not feeling more; not feeling something. I have returned since then and stood by his grave... but all I ever experienced was a strange sensation of... lack of.

Many years later, my mother died. She was far away, in Spain... I was living in the US, in Port Townsend. Again, a phone call. She had passed away in hospital, after having spent a few months in a home for elderly folks with advanced dementia. I was 6000 miles away...

Her ashes were scattered by "other people" on a hillside near the village of Casares... I was too far away and too broke to do anything about it. I later went to the place where her ashes once went, but I felt only a strange emptiness. My last memory of my mother was a photo from a prior year's visit to her...

I went to a local park at the time of her memorial service and sat there for several hours...

I thought about how people die; how pets die... and "life simply goes on."

My mother was dead and I would never see her or talk to her again... and all around me, the world continued and people were going about their business and going to work; plumbers were unclogging backed up sewers; bakers were making fresh bread, couples were arguing and making up, and the UPS guy was delivering a television.

In between, I remember so many deaths... my Aunt Ulla who had a huge impact on my formative years and helped make me the person I am today; my stepfather, aunts and uncles... but also a host of furry creatures I have loved and shared space with.

They all have a place in my heart and my memories... but aside from that, they are but a long forgotten footnote in the greater history of life...

Today, a small furry creature left this plane of existence.

Aside from  a small handful of people who knew him, his passing was an insignificant event... a Facebook post that will be read for a day and then will vanish into the passing timelines of our existence.

Yet... to me he was important. More important than any timeline post... so much more than "just a cat." And I know that even 5... 10... 20 years from now, I will see a picture of him and feel echoes of the same mindnumbing sadness that lays heavy across my shoulders, as I sit here, writing these words.

Death is... indeed... a natural part of life. Whereas that old cliché may hold true, it doesn't make it any easier, and nothing truly prepares us for those moments when our loved ones-- be they human or animal-- suddenly are no longer part of our lives. All we experience is the residual emptiness; loss; a "lack of."

Looking back at my past experiences with my dad, and with my mom... and my many furry friends, I do understand the underlying reason for why people often say "You just need to get over it and move on!" after someone/something you dearly love dies. Whereas it may feel hurtful to us-- to me-- they weren't inside the experience; they were merely the figurative UPS Guy, delivering a television. As such, their perception lacks the depth we experience with ours.

What sets us off and reminds us of our grief shows up in odd ways. Kramer always used to push open the bathroom door and come in for some "toilet love," because he knew he had a captive audience. And so, I was in the bathroom and listened for the familiar "Thump... clickety-clickety-clickety-click" of him jumping down from the desk followed by claws against the hardwood floor...

... and then remembered I would never hear that sound again.

I don't know if animals feel love in the sense we know it... but I have had many cats (and dogs) in my life. This one was "different," somehow... we were bonded and "together" in some way I can't quite explain. I loved him, in a strangely deep and profound way. I'd like to think he loved me, in his own cat way...

And so I wept. For him... and for all the others...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Woodpeckers and Guilt

This woodpecker was an unusual guest on the lawn, a couple of mornings ago. I can't remember ever seeing a woodpecker sitting on the grass, pulling out grubs.

But there it was.

It was "unusual" enough for me to pull out my camera to take a picture or two. Which-- in turn-- required getting fresh batteries for the camera, finding a good angle for the photo, waiting for the right moment and yadda, yadda... followed by offloading the images, choosing the decent ones, cropping and color correcting, formatting for blog use and yadda, yadda.

And so, old familiar feelings of guilt over "wasting time with something useless" when I could be doing "something more productive" with my life arose.

Which, in turn, led me down a rabbit hole of considering why we feel what we feel, and especially why we feel what we feel when we are experiencing negative feelings.

I enjoy nature photography. I enjoy observing the world around me, and then sharing what I see with others. I may not be the world's greatest conversationalist, but I am a passable story teller and illustrator, so I write and add pictures.

Now, I was not raised in an environment where I was made to feel that work-- by definition-- had to be "something you DON'T enjoy doing." Far from it. I was, however, raised in an environment that revolved around "duties (work) first, fun later." And if "duties" took ALL your time? Too bad. If we were to consider Aesop's fable about "The Ant and the Grasshopper," I have pretty much always been closer to the proverbial Ant... in spite of the fact that I am-- to a considerable extent-- a "slacker." These uneasily live side-by-side because my sense of responsibility and conscientiousness (the Ant) does battle with my desire to be "authentically me," which is more about BE-ing than DO-ing.

So I am sitting here, writing these words-- which takes (valuable work) time to do-- feeling like I am not being "suitably Ant-ish" because these words and pictures are (a) primarily for my own enjoyment, and (b) not income producing and (c) will "cost" me $30 because the time is NOT being used to generate income. And there's an attendant feeling of guilt; a sense that I am "wasting time with frivolities, again."

But don't many people photograph and write in their spare time? Or walk on the beach? Or paint? Or collect stamps or belly button lint?

Few things are truly as simple as they look-- especially when it comes to the human psyche.

I don't have any "spare" time. And therein can be found an answer, of sorts: Even though I am-- in many ways-- "an Ant," I have mostly been singularly unsuccessful at "Anting" because for most of my adult life I have made choices leading to a reality that doesn't have any "spare time."

Sure, I have "made my own way," and I "work from home in my sweats" but at what price? Yes, I may be living "authentically" and "on my own terms," but the ostensible "reward" has so often been that there's (metaphorically speaking) only a twenty-dollar bill between me and living on the street. It's not a question of when the electric bill gets paid, but a question of remembering the last time I wasn't worried whether the power would go off next week. A year? Five years? Ten years? Twenty years? And sometimes that's to close to "reality" to even consider a true metaphor...

One of the things I have been considering recently is the well-known saying "Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow" (which also happens to be the title of Marsha Sinetar's landmark book from 1989 ◄ highly recommended!) and its deeper implications. I have been doing that for almost two decades, so I have started wondering what (reality?) I am not seeing: I am doing one thing I love (beach combing), but dealing with an ever depleting resource. I am doing a second thing I love (being a rare postage stamp dealer) but am dealing with a hobby that's slowly "graying" and dying. I am doing a third thing I love (writing) which is notoriously hard to make a living at, and focusing on HSPs (who often believe things "should be free") so there has been very little there. I am doing a fourth thing I love (being creative, artistic and painting geometric designs-- Alchemy Stones), but art is a "luxury" which makes it something most people "do without" in hard economic times, such as these.

The question that arises is "How do you MAKE IT, when your passions may be authentic, but just aren't very popular, on a greater scale?"

Anyway, the woodpecker came to me in this unusual context (it's actually called a "Northern Flicker" and is one of the very few woodpeckers that does get some of its food from the ground) and made me pause and think. I'm a student of synchronicity and symbolism, so this surely had to "mean" something. So then I had to go look at the meaning of woodpeckers, as totem animals and animal spirit guides.

Of course, there was a huge amount of information to be had-- suffice it to say that Woodpecker has profound spiritual messages, many centering on returning to, and focusing on, our roots and our original creative ideas. Even Carl Jung observed that the woodpecker symbolizes "a return to the womb of creativity." Woodpeckers are also a symbol of determination-- they will peck away at seemingly impossible obstacles (like an oak tree trunk) till they reach their objective... against all odds. I have surely been doing that... if I had a dime for every time I've been told "Just give up and get a 'real' job-- what you're trying to do can't be done" I wouldn't be alluding to financial hardship here.

And yet? To get back to the "Ant and Grasshopper" analogy... the woodpecker embodies a little of both: the dogged determination and single-mindedness of the ant (hammering through impossible obstacles) and the "slacker"ways of the Grasshopper... it's narrow pointed beak and long tongue allows it to reach its objective with the least possible effort needed.

And the "guilt" bit? It is a fundamental truth of me that I will-- in general-- accomplish exactly what I need, and NO MORE. I feel extremely "driven" to "get by" yet lack any sort of ambition to accomplish much more than that. The guilt arises because-- UNlike the Ant-- I never have a "store room" to draw on, any kind of "reserve" when I just want to take a day to photograph and write about woodpeckers, or when I just want to do something "because I feel like it." Why? Because I feel like I am-- in essence-- endangering my own security when I pay attention to anything other than "the essential," hence a sense of guilt.

Now, if I could only find another passion that's a little more globally popular!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Dear Service Provider...

Dear Service Provider,

Thank you for your recent statement showing that my account with you is, once again, past due.

I noticed the small "please let us know if there is anything we can do to assist you" appended below your demand for payment.

Unfortunately, the only way you can "assist" me is by re-pricing your service at a level that allows me to derive a benefit that's in proportion to its cost. 

The simple fact is that I can't afford your services-- ostensibly designed to "help me make a living"-- because their cost actually contributes to preventing me from being able to "make a living." It makes no financial sense to pay $299 a year for a service that adds-- to the degree it is trackable-- $100 a year to my bottom line. If I am lucky. Your assertions that your service makes me "cooler" than my peers remains meaningless until you can talk Safeway into accepting "cool" in exchange for groceries.

I'm am not impressed by your advice that if I only "invested another $500 in services A, B and C to customize our program" my results would improve. I am not impressed, in general, with service providers whose primary selling point consist of nebulous promises of the "possibility" of better results, sometime in the "future," which may be 17 years away.

But what really does not impress me is the subtle subtext that you get to "charge whatever you want" for your services because you consider yourself to be "the only serious contender" in your market niche. 

I am taking the time to write this letter, because I want you to know that I no longer have any interest in doing business with a company whose fundamental strategy for establishing their pricing is "because we can get away with it.

Me, your customer no more.


The above, of course, is a fictitious letter.

However, it reflects a common "issue" in our world, especially here in the US where capitalism and greed get to run rampant... namely that lots of companies, individuals, organizations and other entities try to get away with (and often succeed in) charging large sums of money for something that amounts to little more than "air."

Why do they "get away with it?" Because we're often "too busy" to be informed and "too distracted" to seriously consider why we perceive ourselves to be afraid of "not having" aforesaid services or products in our lives. Or we believe in the "Big Bugaboo" we've been sold, called "We have no CHOICE."

They "get away with it" because we have persuaded ourselves that we "need" (metaphorically speaking) that 2nd 5-terabyte hard drive, even though our existing 5-terabyte hard drive is only 8% used and will still have empty space in 2050. We also suffer from a sort of "selective cognitive blindness" that prevents us from grasping that we will probably be DEAD, in 2050.

In other words, we keep investing in "more" of "something" we already have plenty of, because we fear we don't have "enough." We have a multitude of reasons for doing so, surprisingly many of which revolve around some variation of the core thought "But what will people THINK?"

Of course, there is more to it than that... but it's really time for people to WAKE UP and evaluate their choices, and to start doing things for reasons other than "it sounded good."

Monday, October 6, 2014

Staying Conscious with Millions and Millions of Words

I was sitting here, earlier this morning, contemplating "writing."

More specifically, I was contemplating the fact that I have been writing "actively" since age 13 yet have very little to show for the millions of words I have churned out, over the years.

Maybe that's just the way of the world-- we get in the habit of "going about our business" without staying actively aware of having any specific purpose in doing so.

Because "I'm into that sort of stuff" I did some quick calculations. Going by what I have written in my personal journals, and then on blogs, forums and web sites, and then articles, and not missing years of writing for work-- from being a technical writer to eBay descriptions-- and then the eternal string of email over the past 20 or so years; a conservative estimate would be that I write about 2500 words a day, in some form of writing. String that out across 40 years... and you end up with some 36.5 million words... at least half of which were written by hand.

For comparison's sake, let's consider two massive "bricks" of literature that most people are familiar with (or abhor), to some degree: Tolstoy's "War and Peace" (587,000 words) and Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" (645,000 words). So... I've written "War and Peace" 62 times... If that's too esoteric for you, the 66 books of the King James Bible (Old + New Testaments) have an estimated 788,000 words, so I have written the Bible 46 times... in 40 years.

Of course, I haven't. I'm just playing around with statistics.

To someone who struggles to peck out a 100-word email to their mother, this probably sounds like "evil wizardry." Besides, why would anyone want to? Moreover, why would anyone want to write so much and not turn it into some form of "measurable output," like a Stephen King or Isaac Asimov?

I guess one of the most common responses writers give when asked "why" they write is because they "feel compelled." For me, it has mostly been a case of being able to "think better" in writing than I do in my head, and that I usually "express myself" better in writing than I do by speaking.

On any given day, I probably write more words than I speak. I expect this is because writing is a "slow" way of expressing yourself, and I have a "slow" brain, thanks to something scientifically described as "Sluggish Cognitive Tempo." I just think I have a "slow brain," not a "condition," but what the hay... science likes to put a "name tag" on everything.

But I digress...

What led me to thinking about all this is the fact that I so often give lip service to the idea that "I don't have time to write." Which, of course, is patent nonsense given what I have just outlined above.

So why do I feel like I "don't have time to write?"

This is where we start poking at the essence of the human condition-- and it applies to everything, not just writing:

Being Present and Mindful and Conscious.

What I claim to "not have time to" do is really a statement about feeling like I don't have the energy or inclination to put forth enough effort to write with Presence and Purpose... because that calls for me to be "engaged" rather than allowing me to "zone out." And-- to use some of those 21st century buzzwords-- "Staying Awake" and "Being Present" and "Consciousness" all are a lot of WORK. "Sleeping" is infinitely easier... and that's why we can look at the world and feel like "everyone is sleepwalking through life."

In my case, "writing" is merely a metaphor wrapped around the context of my lament of "not having time."

I can punch out 1000 words of random thoughts in 20 minutes, but to write a "Meaningful and Purposeful piece of prose" (or an article) of the same length takes me hours of concentration. Which reveals that my "real" excuse below the words is that (a) "it's too much work" and (b) "I don't get compensated for it," the latter always being a major consideration when your financial life perpetually hangs by a thread.

So what are the lessons-- the "takeaway"-- from this?

Seems to me that anytime we feel like we "don't have time" to take on some project we really actually want to take on... could be writing, painting, creating a garden, building a sun room, organizing a baseball card collection... what we're really facing is our fear of the "discomfort" of awakening from our comfortable "slumber" to become "active agents" in our own lives; to become "engaged" in what we're doing, rather than just "skating by."

Modern society works against us, in many ways because it is filled with "sleeping pills," from television to junk food to "meaningless busy work" to gossip to Facebook to the relentless pressure to pursue more things rather than good things. The pursuit of "more" is particularly odious because it attempts to trap us on a treadmill where we stay in a state of constantly "flitting between things" without paying real attention to any of them... because "we just don't have TIME."

It is time... to evaluate how we really think about-- and use-- our time.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Paddling Upstream, Against the Current

Humans are strange creatures.

I often find myself wondering why so many of us-- and I'm not entirely excluding myself, here-- seem to deliberately (and often repeatedly) choose "the hard way" to do things.

Well. OK.

Maybe I am excluding myself-- to some degree-- because a substantial part of my "life's work" has revolved the quest to always find the "lowest point" of the proverbial fence to jump over. In fact, if I can, I will probably walk around the fence (or crawl under it), so I don't have to jump, at all.

As someone once observed about me "You'll put an almost insane amount of effort into figuring out how to not put any effort into something."

So when I feel baffled by people's choices, I expect that part of it is a failure-- on my behalf-- to have much appreciation for the "because I CAN" paradigm for living. Of course, part of it is personal opinion... I believe the world would be a better people if people were more willing to "think" through things, rather than "muscle" through them.

"Yeah, I climbed over the fence at the tallest part, where all the razor wire is! Look at what a badass I am!"

Yeah. No. Who gives a shit? What's more, while you're busy gloating over your superior fence climbing skills, did it even cross your mind that one side-effect of your suffering antics is that several people are now tasked/saddled with tending to the bleeding cuts on your arms?

Sometimes I feel like a better name for this blog might be "Miserably Misanthropic Mumblings."

But I digress.

So what am I really talking about, here?

Since I spend a lot of time in the self-development, consciousness and "enlightenment" business, I am always confuddled by the number of people who actively choose some form of "suffering," operating under the twisted perspective that wisdom (or even just "contentment") in life "isn't a thing" unless you've endured twenty years of hardship and misery to attain it.

It is almost like there is "status" and "ego value" attached to protracted suffering.

Here's a metaphor for you (because I love those!):

We stand before a thorny thicket, filled with a tangle of stinging nettles and blackberry vines. It seems we have to traverse 200 feet of it.

Looking at the thicket and going "Wow, that's a nasty mess, and going through there will cut me to threads. I'm just going to walk a mile down here to the side and go AROUND that, instead" is often not seen as "real" wisdom. It's "cheating," on some level.

"Wisdom," in many cases seems to only apply to the process of painstakingly forging a path through the thicket, getting yourself torn up, scratched and burned as you go, then emerging on the other side as "a survivor." Twenty years of suffering, thank-you, come-again.

Wow. Painful. Let's just walk around, 'm-kay?

"But it's not that simple!"


Therein lies the rub, alas. Somehow we take the opinion of the goo-roo who spent 30 years eating bread and water in order to reach enlightenment as "more meaningful" than the person who woke up one morning and said "Thus sucks, so I'm going to do it differently and be happy." And then is.

It is as if we attach a twisted "nobility" to eternal suffering and considerable skepticism to simplicity and common sense.

Aside from the prosaic truism "Misery loves company," why do we so often choose suffering? Why would we rather try to paddle our little canoes of life UPstream against the current?

Friday, September 5, 2014

So just what IS this "Authenticity" thing, anyway?

Many years ago, I sat with a friend during a workshop break and we discussed moving, life and what thereof follows. I had been talking about my (then) plans to relocate from Texas to Washington state.

My friend said "Wherever you go, you take yourself along."

We added the corollary "... so when you DO go, you'd better make sure the 'Yourself' you take along is someone you like."

I've often thought back on that day, and reminded myself of the importance of not only "knowing" ourselves, but also the importance of being truthful in our self-knowing.

That second bit seems to be what trips people up, more often than not.

Who are you, really?
Who am I, really?
Who is anyone, really?
And are we open to really being that?

As children, we exist largely "unfiltered," at least until we become acquainted with the word "don't!" typically delivered in a relentless fashion by our parents.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that's a bad thing. "Don't" is a part of learning not to touch a hot stove, or not running out into traffic. However... the "don't" that potentially represses the truth of Who We Are is not so good. Or, at least, it tends to repress parts of our essence that come back to bug us later, in the form of a "mid-life crisis."

What do we learn, as we walk through life?

Most of us learn how to "act," and how to put on the facade we believe "best serves" us. Yet, no matter how good we may become at maintaining our carefully constructed "self images"... there are very few people who don't eventually "show us" who they really are, below the veneer.

What does an "image" do?

It seems it allows us to have an "affiliate identity" aside from merely being a Human.

I'm a Goth.
I'm a Healer.
I'm a Warrior.
I'm a Pacifist.
I'm a Geek.
I'm a Hipster.
I'm a Badass.

I'm a Guru.
I'm a Mystic.
I'm a Christian.
I'm a Buddhist.

Perhaps... for some people... these terms (and untold thousands like them) are no more than semantic identifiers that afford us a shortcut to placing ourselves "somewhere" in a meaningful context of the overall human experience. In a psychologically healthy context, it's merely a bit of descriptive text that allows us to have a sense of place within the card catalog of the Library of Life.

I am a Highly Sensitive Person. I am an Introvert. I am a Dane.

These things "describe" me, but they are not what I essentially "am."


What happens when the image becomes the person? What happens when we become more strongly identified with the self-image we've created, than our (often hidden) inner truth?

People eventually show us who they are, as people.

And there's the rub. We are not our "images." And even those who have very carefully manufactured "masks" will have moments (and often many of them) when they inadvertently let their "human-ness" show, no matter how carefully their facades may be constructed.

Which begs the question "Why are you afraid to just be human? To just be yourself?"

I started thinking about this several years ago, as I was gathering my thoughts to write an article (which I still haven't finished) about why the majority of HSPs are afraid of letting anyone actually see that they are Highly Sensitive. There's a "disconnect" between between outward expression, and inner essence.

Sarah and I were talking about our "super powers," yesterday. She's a clairvoyant and world class psychic... her super power is the ability to "sit inside" other people's energies and immediately being able to see their "story." My own super power is more akin to being able to immediately evaluate the "relationship" between what someone says they "are" (their words) and what their actual doing and being says they are.

It never ceases to amaze me how much people's actions and true essence betrays their words... no matter how skilled they are at conveying their "story." This is especially true of those who seem "addicted" to labels... labels they use as a way to excuse themselves from their humanness, by substituting the attributes of their chosen label for their true essence.

I'm sure you've met them: "I have/can't/do/am XYZ because am an ABC" and variations of the preceding. Sometimes true, but often an excuse.

"I can't work because I'm ADHD."

No, not true.

The point being that it's a truly beautiful-- and quite rare-- thing when someone's "story" and their "essence" are totally in synch. And that, to me, is the definition of true authenticity: There's no "story" that deviates from the essence of who someone "is." Not only do such people "live their story;" their story is an authentic expression of who they genuinely are.

But it's hard work, and perhaps that's why many people resort to labels, rather than allowing their authenticity to shine. Labels are easy. "Images" are easy. Many many moons ago, I remember someone saying (about their rather ambiguous profile on a dating web site) that "it's less painful to be rejected for a projection of myself, than being rejected for my REAL self."

True words, those.

But do we really want to live in a box of lies?