Sh*t To Help You Show Up January 8, 2021
You will hear me say this again and again—integrity is not an attitude or a belief; it is a practice. The foundation of integrity is wholeness and authenticity, which are both also practices. We try, and we fail, and we try again. Over time the habits of wholeness, authenticity, and integrity get easier, but only because we practice them.
Every Friday I’m going to offer you some resources— articles, books, videos, writings— that help me to practice showing up as a whole, authentic, integrous person. Consume media regularly that supports your practice. Believe me, it helps.
Now, let’s begin!
There’s Psychology to Integrity
This article from the website The Conversation, entitled “Here’s why some people are willing to challenge bullying, corruption and bad behavior, even at personal risk”, teaches us some important aspects of the psychology of integrity, or what they call being a “moral rebel”.
The central takeaway for me? Integrity is wired into our brains, but it’s not hardwired. It’s not that some people are capable of integrity and others aren’t. As the author concludes, “anyone can learn to be a moral rebel”.
Empathy is Essential
When you read the article in The Conversation you’ll see that empathy is a central trait of the moral rebel. There are infinite paths into the experience of empathy, but I find poetry is one of the straightest ones. There’s something about the sparseness of the text, the silences, that create a container to hold the writer and me together as if we were in the same body.
I came across this poem recently and it describes empathy perfectly, I think. If you want to hear the poet read it, you can find that recording at the link.
by Bianca Spriggs
I get it.
We are strangers,
but I know the heart is a hive
and someone has knocked yours
from its high branch in your chest
and it lays cracked and splayed,
spilling honey all over
the ground floor of your gut
and the bees inside
that you've trained
over the days and years
to stay put, swarm
the terrain of your organs,
right here in traffic,
while we wait for the light to change.
I get it.
How this array of metal and plastic
tends to go womb room
once the door shuts,
and maybe you were singing
only moments before
you got the call,
or remembered that thing
you had tucked back and built
such sturdy scaffolding all around,
and now here it comes to knock
you adrift with only your steering
wheel to hold you up.
Or, maybe today
was just a tough day
and the sunlight
and warm weather
and blossoming limbs
and smiling pedestrians
waiting for their turn to cross
are much too much to take
when you think of all that’s left
to do, and here you are,
a reed stuck in the mud
of a rush hour intersection,
with so very many hours left to go.
I know you.
I know how that thing
when left unattended
will show up as a typhoon
at your front door
demanding to be let in
or it will take
the whole damn house with it.
I know this place too.
I get it.
But because we are strangers,
because you did not see me see you,
my gaze has no more effect
than a phantom that stares at the living.
And yet, I want you to know that
today, in the hive of my heart,
there is room enough
Relationships Are The Proving Ground
Whoever we may think we are, and however accomplished we may believe we have become in our practice of integrity, our relationships will show us where we still, and always, have work to do. Whether it is with romantic partners, friends, family, or our kids, there is nothing that pushes our buttons and challenges our ability to show up like being in relationship.
I spend a lot of time reading, thinking, and writing about relationships so that I can understand myself in relationship better. One of my favorite writers and thinkers on relationships, and particularly romantic partnerships, is Esther Perel. If you know Esther’s work, you know what I mean. That woman is smart, sexy, self-reflective, and insightful. I can never quite figure out if I want to kiss her or I want to be her. It might be both.
If you don’t know Esther’s work, here’s a brief video that introduces some wonderful foundational concepts that she shares about love and partnership. Attend particularly to what she says about play, because we’re going to be talking more about play on Monday and throughout the month.
Walking and Talking
I write a weekly advice column on Medium, called Walk With Me. The title is based on my absolute favorite way of spending time with people, which is walking and talking about anything and everything.
Unlike some newer advice columnists, I work hard to actually solicit real questions from people; when I listen deeply to other people I find that I can access much deeper truth within myself, what Quakers would call the still, small voice. Feeling connected to the still, small voice within me brings me tremendous peace, which can be hard to come by for me, so my listening doesn’t just benefit the person posing the question. It also benefits me by helping me be more centered, whole, and integrated.
This week’s column was about grief during COVID-19. You can read it here.
Given the insurrection in D.C. this week, you might also want to read this column from September. The blatant difference between the police treatment of the mob in D.C. this week and Black Lives Matter protesters this past summer is stark.
Thank you for joining me here. If you haven’t yet subscribed and would like to support my work, you can do that below. I’d love to have you join the conversation.