I’ve just returned from a trip to Iceland with my wife and our 14-year old nephew. When I was 13, my grandmother took me on a similar trip. It’s a tradition in our family that an elder takes a younger relative on a journey so together they might see the world with new eyes.
Traveling through unfamiliar lands can awaken us to the hidden aspects of humanity, both unkind and beautiful. This is true not only for travel in the physical world, but also the journey we take when we read a story, or when we embark on an inner journey to know ourselves.
Pablo Picasso, Girl Before A Mirror (1932)
That’s why I love the piece below from a children’s book about a girl who falls into a completely different world and learns much about others and herself along the way.
“She did not know yet how sometimes people keep parts of themselves hidden and secret, sometimes wicked and unkind parts, but often brave or wild or colorful parts, cunning or powerful or even marvelous, beautiful parts, just locked up away at the bottom of their hearts. They do this because they are afraid of the world and of being stared at, or relied upon to do feats of bravery or boldness. And all of those brave and wild and cunning and marvelous and beautiful parts they hid away and left in the dark to grow strange mushrooms – and yes, sometimes those wicked and unkind parts, too – end up in their shadow.”
~ Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There
This passage reminds me very much of the “divided life”–the concept Parker Palmer uses to describe the way we sometimes fail to live in congruence with our truest inner selves.
“Afraid that our inner light will be extinguished or our inner darkness exposed, we hide our true identities from each other. In the process, we become separated from our own souls. We end up living divided lives, so far removed from the truth we hold within that we cannot know the ‘integrity that comes from being what you are.'”
~ Parker J. Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life
What are you learning through your recent travels?
How is your own journey calling you to reveal and acknowledge more of your true self?
With gratitude and best wishes,
P.S. Explore your identity and integrity at a Courage & Renewal program.