I’m a sucker for a self-help or spiritual book. My bookshelf is groaning under their weight: Emmet Fox and Eckhart Tolle, Elizabeth Lesser and Thich Nhat Hanh, Byron Katie and Wayne Dyer…The pile grows more unwieldy with every trip to Half Price Books.
In the past, I’ve operated with the belief that the book you don’t read won’t help, so better read them all, just in case that life-changing sentence is buried in the third paragraph on page 219 of Pema Chödrön‘s fourth book. Oh my god, I’ve got to find that paragraph! And put it on Facebook!
Sometime in late 2011, I hit total book burnout. I was sick to death of shoveling self help advice down my throat and I just couldn’t give a crap which author Oprah recommended for life improvement that month. I had a radical thought one night, after inwardly groaning at the thought of my mandatory bedtime self help indoctrination hour: “What if the truth is mine already?”
It felt like heresy. I mean, who am I? I’m screwed up! I’m confused! I need someone else to tell me the way it is!
But you can’t un-know what you know (and trust me, I have tried). And in that moment, I figured some stuff out and made a decision: I was going to put down the books and start living my own truth.
I’ve learned so much over the years from these teachers and I’m greatly influenced by them. But I had to start living my spiritual practice as I understood it, and that meant putting down the books and venturing out into the wild world, trusting that I know what to do, I know how to live, and I can act in the way that is most true to me without CliffNotes always on my side table.
So far, 2012 has been an amazing journey of living that truth day by day, person to person, moment to moment. It’s not always comfortable–I often feel like a child learning to walk. But as I honor my inner wisdom, my anxiety lowers and I start to get the hang of it. It’s fresh and raw, yes, but it’s also something beautiful and exciting.