I value honesty. It may be the single most important quality to me in any type of relationship — with others, with myself, and in the organizations and communities in which I participate. I’ve found that nothing else works, really.
I try to be as authentically myself as I can possibly be, someone with whom what you see is pretty much what you get. And I try to assume that people are being honest and straightforward with me in return. Sometimes this means I’m disappointed, but I believe that the risk is worth it. Because the alternative — not trusting in the first place— preemptively opts for disconnection from others, which is always gonna hurt.
But I’ve been struggling lately. Honesty has seemed in short supply. I’ve found myself mistrustful and suspicious, shouting “liar” at my newsfeed, feeling disheartened and disillusioned with everything. And it’s making me miserable. I want my romantic idealism back.
Lao Tzu wrote: “Be honest to those who are honest, and also be honest to those who are not honest. Thus, honesty is attained.”
I dig this. It puts honesty back in my court, however others are being, however the world is showing up. Trust becomes something that I can embody for myself and nurture in my relationships, whether or not anyone else is bringing it to the table.
Last night a group of us went for a labyrinth walk under the full moon, in the bosque by the river. It was freakin’ spectacular. Moon rising red to peach to yellow, so bright it cast our shadows across the clearing. Before moonrise, though, on our way to the labyrinth, a porcupine waddled across our path. I’d never seen one in the wild before. He seemed like a harbinger of something, so I came home and read everything I could find online about Porcupine symbolism and medicine.
Porcupine is about innocence. He invites childlike trust and pure joy. This surprised me at first, because the way I’ve been feeling, I was pretty sure that Porcupine had come to warn me that I needed to keep my quills sharp and ready in case of attack. But no, the message was the opposite: you’re safe, allow yourself to feel safe. Defensive adaptations are all well and good, and we’ve got them if we need them, but because we’ve got them we probably don’t have to worry too much about using them. We can trust each other. We can play together.
It occurs to me now that Honesty doesn’t exist only in a space of everyone being perfectly authentic, or truthful, or even having the same idea of what “true” means. Honesty emerges when we do our best to share ourselves openly and listen to others freely — to connect with different experiences, feelings, and ideas — to honor each other’s unique perspectives, as well as our own hearts. Honesty isn’t static — it isn’t one answer — it’s a living moving process. And it can be playful and fun.
I can’t wait to see you, friends. XO, Drew