In Hamlet, Shakespeare writes, “To thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not be false to any man.” In this line, the first step to integrity is being true to your own inner voice.
There’s a corollary in Toltec wisdom, according to Ruiz’s The Four Agreements: “Be impeccable with your word.” That this is the first agreement written seems important, as the other agreements spring from being true to your word, and to your self.
It’s not always the easiest path – being true to yourself. Many people throughout history have been labeled crazy, odd, or other equally derisive terms for not following norms. But norms are norms because they are the average. By that very definition, there must be people on both sides of the average.
Norms are societal agreements; common acceptable behaviors. But they had to begin somewhere, and what is common now may have very well been uncommon before.
It’s okay to be yourself. In fact, it’s preferable to be yourself, rather than someone else. “This above all, to thine own self be true.”
Sometimes we take it all too seriously. Life is about learning, and about experimentation. It’s not always cut and dry. It’s not always 1+1=2.
The truth is, we’re all given the same blank slate when we come into the world. Some of us have better financial situations, some worse. Some have terrible family lives, whereas others having amazing support systems. But what we come into this world with – it’s basically that same for everyone. You have a body, a mind, and time to use the both to their full advantage.
My full advantage won’t look like someone else’s. Sometimes, paths will align. Mostly, we run separate paths.
In The Four Agreements, number four is “Always Do Your Best.” It’s qualified after by saying that some days your best will be (objectively) better than others. However, if you’re always doing your best, no matter the external circumstances, you’re living up to your end of the life-bargain.
“Under any circumstances, always do your best, no more and no less. But keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next.”
Took a few extra days (false start) after my trip. There was a lot going on, and some things I’ve been thinking about.
For instance, why posting every day is a silly strategy. Now I’m not necessarily using this blog to drive traffic or strum up business, but the thought did occur to me – what am I writing for?
The answer I came up with is I write because I have to. So if no one reads it, or doesn’t follow the latest post, it’s not really a big deal. When I started writing, it was about being accountable. Going to the daily (until the Alaska trip) postings, that was about accountability and productivity.
Getting back into the swing of being productive hasn’t been easy. I realize that everything I say in defense of not writing daily becomes just an excuse. That I could find time to sit and post. I could make time.
The truth is, though, sometimes you need to step back. It’s impossible to just keep moving along, everyday. In The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz writes, “Always do your best… Your best is going to change from moment to moment, it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self judgment, self- abuse, and regret.”
So I can start each morning stating I will do my best.
I can end each night asking Have I done my best?
And that’s all anyone can ever really do.