People have danced in and out of my life, but the ones who stay are those who are authentic. In the many years since I divorced and began this new adventure, I’ve had the opportunity to make friends from all walks of life. In interacting with these new personalities, I believe this to be true: Individuals are as different from one another as the smears of paint on an artist’s palette. What each has in common is how they hold fast to the truth he or she has created. Being honest about who they are makes them worth knowing.
Some of the new people I met come from circumstances from which I was never exposed. Choices and personal values frame lifestyles I may not always understand, but part of my truth is accepting another without judgement. I respect someone who values his choices and lives life according to his own rules. As long as these decisions are not causing another harm, I want to learn more and discuss the world they create. Years ago, I became acquainted with someone who is a recovering addict. We would chat over coffee as he educated me about the darker side of life and what it took to overcome the struggle. He lives a life defined by the goal of living clean and sober. He was authentic in his quest and I believe in his strength.
Some of the new people I met come from a world in which I was raised, but never fully connected. Beliefs and rituals support lifestyles I don’t always understand, but part of my truth is valuing commitment. Teaching in a religious school has introduced me to people truly invested in their faith. While I have never been particularly religious, I understand the faith in which I was raised in a new way. Knowing I don’t feel as strong a connection, I respect people whose lives are filled with action, not just words. One woman at school has devoted her life to serving her belief. She is authentic in her mission and I respect her choice.
Some of the new people I met come from all corners of the world, in places I may never see. Writers and poets create a community I want to support, and part of my truth is nurturing personal growth. Voices I have come to know through writing and reading have become part of my life, and sometimes they speak of lifestyles that differ from mine simply because of a change in culture. One voice I enjoy following is from across the world. Although her style is very different from mine, she always makes me laugh. She is authentic in her voice, and I appreciate her talent.
Along the way, I have met plenty who are less than authentic. Personas designed to deceive, and images crafted to misdirect are probably more common than those seeking to live real lives. I have no time or patience for that. Part of my truth is not wasting time on anyone who doesn’t bring something of value to the table. Life is too precious to spend with anyone less than authentic.