|meadow sunrise, Lake Superior, summer 2012, ©kari maxwell|
I have dipped into Seth Godin's books every now and then but it wasn't until recently that I heard about his small publication titled Graceful. It's basically his personal manifesto and it's good. It takes the fluff out of the word grace for me and gives me something to chew on.
"Graceful doesn't mean invisible, hiding, fearful or by the book." How many of us were taught or given the impression that in order to be "good", we needed to stay under the wire, out of the way, hold our tongue? Yes, there is a way of simultaneously being bold and being graceful. There is a way of speaking our truth. I think it can be this simple: authenticity is graceful and this looks differently for everyone. I think the road to grace starts with finding our authentic voice.
"The thing is, no one is born graceful. It's not a gift, it's a choice." I balk at this statement. Aren't some people just naturally graceful? I mean, some people make it look so easy. They breathe in and out with such clarity, pleasantness and ease (not to mention conviction)! Sometimes I have a tendency to hyperventilate... This statement means that anyone can be graceful. Yeah, it may come easier for someone else than it does for me, but I can still BE graceful. I can choose it. And when I lose my gracefulness, I can choose it again.
"They want you to fit in so they can ignore you...They want you to do what your peers do so it's easier...They want you to obey." Isn't this the truth? I think we've all bumped up against this at one point or another in our lives. "There are countless people just waiting to tell you how to fit in, waiting to correct you, advise you, show you what you are doing wrong." And we all know the reason for this right? I mean, the ones that seem convinced to challenge you are the ones that haven't decided to choose grace for themselves. I mean, who has time to focus on someone else and their life? I am always a bit skeptical of people who want to offer unsolicited advice or those that have a habit of being stubborn in opinion. Let's make a new pact: Let's choose to listen to those that are practicing their own authenticity and grace.
"No one is a genius all the time. The tragedy is that society keeps drumming the genius part out...we trade our genius and artistry for stability." Here my all or none thinking is challenged once again. What a relief to be reminded of this. Seth mentions that even "Einstein had trouble finding his house when he walked home from work every day." Yes, we ALL have a genius within us. This is true. It's our job to discover it and foster it while simultaneously accepting our challenges and imperfections. We can lead AND we can ask for help. This is graceful.
"Creativity is personal, original, unexpected and useful." I agree! I also notice that I unintentionally/subconsciously still carry a tad bit of that old belief - that there isn't really anything of value in creativity. This old belief is melting, though, I am so happy to say. More and more, every day, I see that creativity is healing, productive, innovative and solves many problems with a lot less effort.
"It's never possible to fit in all the way in...Never possible for everything to be all right."
Seth doesn't really elaborate much on this statement but I feel compelled to do so. I have found this to be more than true. Instead of giving up when I experience this, I have made a decision to see this as a positive reality in my life. It's reveling in the contrast that brings about more clarity and more ideas. It gets me further to my truth. The challenge for me lies in not getting wrapped up in the fear but using these uncomfortable situations to better myself and my life.