Last April, Bryan and I were perusing a bookstore in sentimental San Luis Obispo, where I was drawn to The Beloved Works of C.S. Lewis . Blinded by the cover’s gold letters shining on ‘heaven’, it no doubt hit a close-to-home topic those days.
Absentmindedly, I opened at the back, eyes landing here:
“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.” – C.S. Lewis, The Business of Heaven
Not sure why the word ‘truth’ tugged, but tears have an outer way of showing inner eyes. C.S. hit a deep chord within, one that rooted conviction that day- to share my truth; in learnings, failures, in ‘should I say this alouds?’, in passions and stories- and by doing this, become the most original form of me possible. I could take pictures of myself in different fashions and carry on about brands and how to mix this striped scarf with those skinny cords, but it would attract eye rolls from all who know me. The truth is that I am a jeans and tank top girl to the core, sans makeup, hair one or two days old. Fashion is not my truth.
Here are 5 personal truths to becoming original:
1. Forgive Myself
I am way too hard on myself. I analyze conversations, mull words around in my head, rehash what I could have done different, berate myself for not having it “together.” Thanks to counseling, a patient Holy Spirit, wise reads, and a husband who reminds with a steadfast hand on my leg, “be gentle with yourself ” is my new motto. If you are fellow self-loather, heap some gentleness and let.it.go. Allow your brain space to breathe- creativity can’t survive without air.
On the topic of creativity, Brene Brown says it best in The Gifts of Imperfection: “There’s no such thing as creative people and non-creative people. There are only people who use their creativity and people who don’t… Creativity, which is the expression of our originality, helps us stay mindful that what we bring to the world is completely original and cannot be compared. And, without comparison, concepts like ahead or behind or best or worst lose their meaning.”
I decorate, design, and organize, often unaware I’m creating. If you’ve been to our cottage, you know bookshelves re-arrange, pictures change, chairs cozy into new corners weekly, if not daily. This is my inventive contribution, a productive way I work out thoughts, may it be transforming a metal basket into a lampshade, hanging a wood box as a bathroom shelf, marrying textures and shapes from fabrics and furniture.
Pay attention to what you do when you aren’t paying attention – your truth comes to life in simple, chosen escapes. What does that look like for you?
3. Read and Write
People ask how I have time to read. Simply put: I make time. Reading opens new worlds, whether Christian living, mystery, self-help, fiction or non-fiction. Each author sheds a unique facet on life’s perspective. When I read, I view humankind through a different lens. Each lens becomes another crystal in this exquisite chandelier of opinions, passions, and characters. Stephen King says, If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
Every opportunity I get, I write. A letter, a blog post, a magazine article, a chapter in my book, a hand-penned thank you note. And more than ever, I’m set on writing my stories; stories about our sons, stories of marriage conflict, stories about how painful and freeing the grief journey is, stories about relationships and expectations, and mama hood. “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world,” states Philip Pullman.
Do you have a story worth sharing? Of course you do! If you’r not a writer, tell it. If it needs to be written, find a writer that can put words to your experience. How is what you’re reading impacting your story?
I happen to have a husband that is perfect for me in this area. He grabs my hands from tidying and picking up, and instead fills them with beach towels and ushers me to the car. A five minute drive south does wonders for the soul. And so we make time to play. Sandy shells into bucket, dipping toes in foamy seaweed pools, the salt air having its way with our curls. We intentionally escape to-do lists and run, hands-in-the-air free to emulate our children and play.
What is your guilty play pleasure?
Last Tuesday I stayed in my pajamas until four in the afternoon, the boys content to have a “down-home” day. We colored, they ran up and down the hall terrorizing invisible “bad guys”, and took a leisurely walk to the park. Clocks or schedules played no part in the day; our main goal to be together, void of rushing, arriving, or preparing. The result? It was one of their favorite days that week. Kids need to relax, as do adults.
If you haven’t scheduled a day or an hour to relax, do yourself a favor and offer yourself the gift of being. Is that a massage, a run, yoga? I’d love to hear how you recharge.
What are your personal truths? How are you original without trying to be original?