The world is full of people with ulterior motives and they have write-access to your sources of knowledge. Trust your own experimentation.
Congruency is compatibility, agreement, and harmony. If we're living in congruence with ourselves, then our actions are in harmony with our beliefs. Things we want to see in others, we consciously strive to exude from ourselves. Our actions reflect a commitment to our values.
If we’re not living in congruence with ourselves, then we will say one thing but do another. We will seek things in others that we ourselves fail to strive for.
I’m always looking for ways in which my actions are not congruent with my beliefs. I ask myself, am I acting the same way I would want others to act? Am I making choices that I would want others to make?
I recently realized that my Journal offering — a $7/month subscription — was not in alignment with what I look for in other subscriptions, nor was it compatible with the way that I make monetary contributions to others.
Recognizing this, I’ve made a few changes to the Journal that are going into effect as of today.
There are now monthly and yearly subscription options, along with a one-time donation page. If you make a one-time donation of at least $7, you automatically receive access to the Journal; the duration of access is determined by the amount of your donation.
For the monthly and yearly subscriptions, the minimums are $7 and $40 respectively, but those amounts can be adjusted as long as they remain above the minimums.
Of course you can choose to do nothing and keep your current monthly subscription. However, you now have the option to switch to the yearly subscription, or cancel your recurring subscription and make a one-time donation. Whatever you decide, I’m very grateful for your support. 🙂
So far this year I’ve made monetary contributions to [person requested name be removed], Joy Holland, Sui Solitare, Lynn Fang, Niall Doherty, Thom Chambers, Ando Perez, and Earl Baron, along with several other donations to small independent software developers.
In each case, I might not have made the contribution if I wasn’t able to choose the amount of my subscription or if I wasn’t able to make a one-time contribution.
The freedom to choose, I realized, is quite important to me. I also realized that despite its importance in my life, I wasn’t holding myself to the same standard.
The options for subscribing to my Journal have been, until now, quite limited: you could subscribe for $7/month or not at all. Even the donation button was removed from my site in early 2011.
However, with these new options in place my offering now feels congruent with the rest of my life; I’m now presenting things in way that I would want to see if I visited a site and felt the desire to make a monetary contribution.
Do you have any thoughts on living in congruence with yourself, or on the power of choice? Is there anything in particular that you wish you saw more of, whether from me or from others that you follow?
A banana cuts like a banana no matter where you live. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in Boston or Sydney or Kathmandu: when you peel a banana with your hands and slice it with a knife, it responds in exactly the same way.
Does this seem obvious? It shouldn’t.
Think about it: you can travel across the entire planet to faraway places where language and culture become alien and where your previous understanding of the world no longer applies.
You can find places where cars drive in the opposite direction, where numbers suddenly change their meaning, and where light switches are on in the off position.
You can find places where a blanket is not just a blanket but a lifeline; where an empty bottle is a shower-head; a shaded sidewalk is a home; a large bucket of water is a source of life; and where cats and dogs are not just domesticated pets to be loved, but food.
Even how you define life and death can change depending on where you go. For some, death brings a sense of loss and represents a time for mourning. For others, death represents a time for celebration and funerals are a way of celebrating life.
But a banana still cuts like a banana. The water in your teacup still responds to your movements in exactly the same way. Birds fly through the air using the same principles of flight they used millions of years ago.
In my travels I can always find things that are different, things that don’t match up with what I already know. It’s not easy to accept those things, to lean into the discomfort of embracing the unknown. But the more I embrace the unknown, the more I find myself recognizing universal truths.
Laughter still feels like laughter no matter where I go. Kindness feels like kindness and authenticity feels like authenticity. It doesn’t matter who it comes from or how alien my surroundings.
The realness of those things doesn’t require thought or thinking; attempting to impose expectations of how they’re supposed to be only clouds the simplicity of their truth.
The truth is, when it’s real, you’ll feel it.
What universal truths have you felt?
Shawnacy Kiker wrote an enchanting, soul-stirring, and enlightening piece of short fiction that does an excellent job explaining how many of us fail to see that our world is just one of billions.
Some worlds are violent. Tinged of red, and harshly outlined. People belonging to these worlds walk with their heads low, pulling their coats tight around their bodies, regardless of the weather, as though wrapping themselves in steel-plated walls. They speak in shields, and the characters of their language have no way to give shape to the word love.
Other worlds are light. They bob and float over the face of the planet, moving in fields of lesser gravity. Those who dwell in light worlds cannot fathom why others choose to live heavy and dark. Thinking of these people, the ones who trudge through the bogs of earth, burdened and half-buried, makes the light ones sink slightly, and so they hang bright curtains on the edges of their world and live inside, cultivating laughter and wondering at the flight of butterflies.
It’s like scifi and fantasy for reality, a poetic trance-like window into the world of what is. Be sure to read the entire piece here.
"Where are you going next?"
"I'm hiking the Appalachian Trail. It's something I've wanted to do my whole life and I've decided that I will do it for my 30th birthday this year."
"When are you starting that? How long will it take you?"
"The trail is over two-thousand miles long, so it will probably take 4-5 months. I'm starting on the first day of spring this year, March 20th."
She put her hand on her stomach and gave me 'the eye', as only my sister knows how. "You're coming back in April for the birth of your niece, right?"
I hesitated in my response, not knowing how to express my desire to hike the AT without interruption (known as a "thru-hike") while also expressing that I loved my sister and respected whatever she considered important.
I mumbled something to blur my response. "Maybe. We'll see."
Over the next few days I thought a lot about my response. There was something about it that really bothered me and I couldn't figure out what it was.
I tried to listen carefully to what my heart was telling me. Should I go? Should I stay? Should I go and then come back for a week, letting go of the perfectionist in me that wants to complete a thru-hike?
I've always wanted to hike the AT without stopping, to complete a true thru-hike on my first attempt. (Out of the 3,000+ people who start the trail each year, only about 200-300 actually finish; it's a challenge I've dreamed of facing.)
Towards the end of 2011 I decided that 2012 would be the year I finally hiked the AT. I verbally mentioned the intention to several people, further cementing it into reality (I rarely talk verbally about doing things unless I'm serious about doing them).
I've been thinking about this adventure for nearly six months and every day now I look forward to being fully immersed in nature, waking up each day on the trail knowing that I will spend the rest of the day outside.
I've even been going on daily walks in the local state forest for the past few weeks, spending several hours each day looking up at the trees and imagining myself hiking on the AT.
While I was letting these thoughts sit with me, I received an email from a friends' paid subscription letter.
In the letter, the author shared something that happened to her recently: While in India, she received an email from her dad telling her that grandma was ill and probably wouldn't be with them much longer; he wanted her to fly back to the United States to be with them.
She wrote, "What really got me was the fact that my first thought after reading the email was, should I go or should I stay?"
I immediately realized that's what had been bothering me so much: the fact that I wondered if I should stay or go when my sister asked me to be there for her.
What made her decision difficult was that she already made plans in India: Someone she cared about was going out of their way to meet her there and suddenly leaving would affect that relationship. She felt that India was the place she should be.
But she had to decide: Should she leave India, the place where she truly felt she should be, or should she go back to the United States to be there for the emotional support of her family?
As I read my friends letter, I couldn't help but relate her situation to my own and I found myself jumping ahead and thinking, "She's definitely going to choose to go back to the United States."
To my surprise, I arrived at the end of the letter to discover that she decided to stay in India.
Was her decision the wrong decision? That's not for me to say or decide. What's important was that she made the decision that felt true to her being. As she put it, "in the end, the love I have for my grandma does not decrease just because I am not by her side".
Reading my friends decision to stay in India immediately helped me realize what I needed to do.
I was going to stay for my sister and delay the AT hike.
While I may have felt unclear about what to do initially, my subconscious knew exactly what my heart wanted. It knew it so well that it was projecting itself into my friends situation: If I was in India and my sister asked me to be there for her, I would've come back.
(Again, this doesn't mean my friends decision to stay was wrong: her life is not my life and she did what she felt was true and right for her in her life; I fully support that. The right thing to do is always that which feels undeniably true to you.)
I intended to start hiking in March because the trail, which starts in Georgia and ends in Maine, has sections that are closed during the winter. (It takes nearly six months to hike the entire trail, so you must start hiking in the early spring if you want to finish before winter.)
However, since my niece is due to be born towards the end of April, I've decided to start hiking the AT around the beginning of May. If that means I don't complete a thru-hike, or even if that means I decide to attempt the hike another year, that's fine.
This is something that's important to my sister and I care about what's important to her, even if I may not fully understand it. She never asks me for anything and what feels true and right to me is being there for her because she asked me to be.
I've built my lifestyle around the concept of freedom and I've created a life that allows for following my heart. But what's the point of all that freedom if I'm jailed by my own wants and desires, too selfish to share the fruits of my own freedom with those I love?
The Appalachian Trail will always be there but my niece is only born once.
This series of events led me to make several other decisions, including something that affects the AT hike altogether. It also affects the USA road trip that I had planned for the two months prior to starting the AT. I will share both of those decisions in my next journal entry.
I've long resisted using social media in a way that didn't match how I socialized offline (which is to say, not very much). Despite all the online advice telling me I needed to be heavily involved in social media to grow online, I've refrained from this because it didn't feel true to my core.
This bit from a recent letter by Thom Chambers, How to be Antisocial and Become a Better Writer (subscription required), explains succinctly what I felt intuitively:
Your business is your chance to create your very own utopia, your ideal lifestyle. When it comes to your writing, it’s far more honest to have a setup that you want to maintain indefinitely. If you were a best-selling author, would you tweet?
The answer to that may be "yes", in which case great. But if you’re just putting on a facade of sociability in order to build an audience, then two things will happen. One, you’ll build the wrong sort of readership who come to expect you to be someone you don’t enjoy being. And two, you’ll probably get found out.
Being antisocial might very well mean it takes longer to get where you want to go. But at least you’ll end up at the right destination.
"How one lives as a private person is intimately bound into the work. And at some point, I believe one has to stop holding back for fear of alienating some imaginary reader or real relative or friend, and come out with personal truth. If we are to understand the human condition, and if we are to accept ourselves in all the complexity, self-doubt, extravagance of feeling, guilt, joy, the slow freeing of the self to its full capacity for action and creation, both as human being and artist, we have to know all we can about one another, and we have to be willing to go naked."