There is a wonderful book of the same title by Thomas Wolfe about a novelist who travels the world in search of his identity after being ostracized by his family and friends. It’s a wonderful journey, though excruciatingly painful much of the time. But it’s the journey we all must take, is it not? The journey of Paradise (re)Discovered. Of coming to know your authentic self… as if for the first time. And living from that place for all days forward — from the paradise that you, and all of us, hold within.
I am in PHX on a four hour layover, so lots of time to reflect. I am grateful for the Admiral’s Club! I’m on a tail end of a trip to see family back East. I always hesitate to say that these trips are trips “back home.” My mom no longer lives in the town where I grew up, although nearby. Other family do though, so it’s close enough. But I left more than 20 years ago and I have my own home. In my (re)Discovery of my own identify I have to embrace that as home now. And as Thomas Wolfe so eloquently writes, you can’t go home again, to the home you once knew. To even try is to subvert life’s process.
The journey to (re)Discovering who you really are is a journey into the dark night of the soul in many ways. A transformation characterized by many transitions along the way, oft overlapping. When you finally find that ever-present light at the end of the tunnel, propelled by the faith that, like the sun “hidden” above the clouds, is always there, you discover a self that you seem to have never known before. But it’s an illusion; you were born knowing your real identity. You simply forgot. Or, more correctly, you were deprogrammed at such an early age that you can’t remember the you that is You. And, now, in your solving of the trials and tribulations and transitions and transformations that your life offers — through the solutions you find — you (re)Discover who you really are. As if for the first time.
My trip back to see family was one of those times for me. As all are. It’s always hard to return to a place and people that you left behind at one time. A visit a couple of times a year does not change the fact that I left; in many ways it accents it. In a sense I am like Thomas Wolfe’s protagonist; but in this case I have ostracized myself.
When we embrace who we really are, our authentic self, we absolutely must change our relationship with the people, places, and things that have organized around the self we were taught to be. These were borne of the self that was programmed into us. We radiated that identity and it is what we attracted back. But as we evolve and change and morph and come ever closer to who we really are our whole world changes. We radiated differently. And we attract differently.
And there’s the challenge. We must be willing to allow our world to change as we do. We must be willing to never go home again.
As the holidays come upon, look for clues to your authentic self in the things you experience this season — in your travels, in your gatherings, in your interactions with others. Be mindful of the temptations to ignore the signs that illuminate your journey toward authenticity. They are always there. They show up in the challenges, arguments, the discontents, the uneasy feelings. Make a pact with yourself that you will at least consider heeding these signs and do what feels most right to you. Move forward and further into a journey that may be difficult but is always immeasurably fulfilling.
With my blessings and great gratitude,
from Phoenix, AZ, US