To become who you essentially are and to feel a welcomed part of the community—two universal and non-negotiable needs every human being is born with, yet so few die having realized. Why is that?
To be who you are sounds easy, but there is nothing more difficult in this life. We cannot be content with some surface version of getting enough likes on Facebook, think that if we shout “You’re awesome!” long enough, our deep self will believe it. Because let’s face it. We all know we’re the furthest thing from awesome. We’re a wreck, the walking wounded, the ones faking our way through it all, the jumbled, bundled, chaos of doubt and even self-loathing. The only way to arrive at awesome is to swim through those swampy creature-infested waters and if we do arrive at some pristine clear lake of wonder and awe, it’s not our small self that has arrived there.
It’s one thing to consider that we are here to become who we essentially are, that genius or daimon or essential deep self that accompanied us at birth into this world, and quite another to realize how it’s a constant game of hide and seek. And that the parts of our self most important to spend time with are precisely the ones our parents, our friends, our fellow colleagues, our culture, don’t want to see. We all have a deep and vital need to become who we are meant to be, but it is coupled with an equally deep and vital need to feel part of a group.
Where can we find a group that is willing to accept all of us? There are scores of groups that will welcome us, but demand a high price. Join our political party, but you better follow the party line. Join our religious group, but don’t dare to have a doubt or question that disturbs our dogma. Claim our mutual identity of race or class or sexual preference but don’t consider that it’s not your whole self. Join our conspiracy theory but don’t forget to pay the dues of outsourcing your identity and never, ever, look inward or wonder if indeed it’s that other group that is wholly responsible for your misery. You get the idea.
In short, none of us get a free pass from our deep longing to belong nor can we choose to ignore what our Soul is asking of us. How we negotiate that tightrope conversation between these two apparently opposite truths is what makes things interesting. We might eschew the group together, but what’s the good of realizing a Self that can’t contribute to or feel part of the community? We might abandon the search in favor of belonging, but as noted, if the group requires us to check indispensable parts of ourselves at the door, then it’s a deal with the devil. So it’s a constant tug-of-war between two vital necessities, each pulling the other over the line and sometimes, both letting go of the rope and tumbing to the ground.
Music gives both the metaphor and experience of joining the blending in with the standing out. Releasing yourself to the group harmony by blending your voice, your rhythm, your dance to the larger universe of sound, feeling that small self dissolving in the greater self in the power and beauty of unified tones and rhythms. And then comes your solo, where you soar into the sky with the full measure of your unique voice, both supported by and enhancing and being welcomed by the community of harmonious music. It is possible. But it takes a lifetime of intention, attention and disciplined practice.