By Dana Gornall
“Those who cling to perceptions and views wander the world offending people.” ~ The Buddha
The word is everywhere lately, it seems. Whether it be an adjective, noun, verb or adverb, it is sprinkled with such ease matter of factly in everyday conversation. Once seen as a little raw and crude, this word has become a symbol of authenticity.
We see it in memes scattered throughout our news feeds, lettered in collegiate font across our hoodies and vertically down the legs of our joggers or yoga pants. It is sprinkled in comments and posts about parenting. It’s hashtagged in our pics on Instagram. It’s posted with a black and white photo of a hot yoga chick as she flips off the camera in half-namaste, with hands clasped and knee bent in tree pose. It makes everything just a little cooler.
I’m not only vegan, I am vegan AF. I’m not only zen, I am zen AF. Mindful AF. Buddhist AF.
Well, shit. Does this really make us more authentic?
While mindlessly scrolling down my Instagram feed the other night I ran across one of the many meditation/mindful posts that I subscribe too. A funny image portrayed of a person meditating with the word “FUCK” emblazoned in capital letters and I found myself smirking. So anti-everything-love-and-light. Badass. Tattoos and stuff. Against the airy-fairy stuff that seems to saturate our lives when we just aren’t feeling very airy-fairy.
But is the message really that, or have we just sunk to an easy attention-getting level of something that is trying to resemble authenticity, but really is just a falsely constructed image of a bloated ego? That may be a little harsh, but we all fall victim to it on occasion, myself included.
Case in point: I’ve been trying to do something different with my hair lately and I just don’t know where to go with it. I’m tired of the same color I have been using when I go to the stylist and I want something new—something unique. I want to stand out.
Often mistaken as this quiet, walk the line, middle-aged mom, I want a part of my personality and who I am on the inside to be seen on the outside. Okay, so maybe I am a little bit of a walk-the-line kind of chick, but I am also known to be annoyingly stubborn on some points and very vocal about the things that matter to me.
In reality though, if the path toward enlightenment is about deconstructing the self, why does it matter what color I choose to dye my hair? The person I am is not all the things I so carefully work to create as this image. Shedding identities means letting go of being stubborn, or badass, or a walk-the-line, middle-aged mom, or even the chick with red and brown ombre’d hair.
Saying fuck doesn’t make me more authentic.
It might be a great expletive, it might be a fun adjective to throw in from time to time, but true authenticity doesn’t need shock value to be more real.
I think a lot of us gravitate toward the things that stand firm against the current. Many of us are indoctrinated in one way or another—through school, through church, through our families and through society. Being told to sit still when we wanted to move, to be quiet when we wanted to question, to keep our cursive writing below the dotted line and above the solid line when we wanted to color the whole page purple, can lead to the random utterances of a few fucks well into adulthood.
While some may choose to rebel on larger scales, there is a whole wave of us out there that really do want a little peace and love and light, but just not so candy coated in pink.
Except if I really want to be my authentic self, if I really want to transcend the ego, none of that should matter. We aim for a little shock value at times. We want to be seen. Don’t label/stereotype me; I am a woman, a man, trasnsgender. I am a mom, a dad, a feminist, a conservative, a liberal. I am a Pagan, a Christian, a Buddhist, a Jew a Muslim. I am a teacher, a doctor, a member of the union. I am a brother a sister a wife, a single dad, a marine.
Except maybe that is all part of our attachment.
Maybe it is time to move beyond the language we label as authentic. Sure, it can be funny. Yes, it brings on a smirk from time to time. It’s badass. Tattoos and stuff. Anti-love and light airy fairy drivel, right?
But do we really need to be zen as fuck to be authentic?
Or can we just be?
Editor: John Lee Pendall
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