I have found myself setting my internal compass back towards the direction of authenticity lately. It’s not that I have forgotten where that direction lays, but more like I spent a good portion of my fall and early winter exploring other themes and landscapes.

Truth be told, after World’s Best Old Dog passed away, life has been off kilter. Out of gravitational orbit.

I lost my sense of center and returned to my slow “are you my mother?” wander of trying to find my place again. It may sound funny to say you lost your place after losing your beloved fur companion, but if you know what it is to truly think of your ever present canine as your Best Friend, then you know what it is to find something centering, true and authentic when you gaze into the mirror of their eyes and find something in your reflection you wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

Dog’s make people more human. More aware of the fullness of their humanity. More in touch with what it is to experience years of unconditional love. They provide beautiful mirrors for their people counterparts.

I had grown accustomed to the portrait of self I saw in the eyes of my Ever Present. That familiar reflection where I knew every wrinkle and blemish of myself was passed through a soft filter of acceptance and easy familiarity from the winding passage of years together. There was a constancy of gaze and anchor of presence that is irreplaceable.

I miss my mirror.

Then along came Kintsugi Pup marking a new chapter in life, and here I sit trying to write that chapter as it unfolds. I’m not sure I’ve yet figured out the direction the plot is taking quite honestly. What I do know, is that something deep shifted inside of me after the passing of my boon companion, and I have not yet found words for what that shift is.

It is a subtle one. Nuanced. Not something that anybody else could see. The string that is out of tune in such a minuscule manner only the trained ear could hear. The expert eye of an artist knowing the exact alchemy of mixture to produce the perfect shading. The gymnast who has done her beam routine so many times she could do it in her sleep, and she knows when her balance is off.

My balance has been off. And while that isn’t particularly noteworthy to anybody else, as somebody who lives life from the inside out, I can hear the nuance in my strings.

We are our own experts on self. The only ones capable of fully embodying the gifts of life we have been given. The only ones ultimately responsible for tending to those gifts.

I am the only one with the ear to hear that something feels slightly off, the only one charged with the responsibility to attend to it. But unlike the violinist who knows how to tighten and tune to a precise degree, human beings aren’t precise or exact.

It’s never a matter of simply tightening our strings and having a fixed setting of self. We are dynamic and our lives are dynamic. They require redefinition, retuning, recentering, and remixing over and over and over again as our timeline evolves.

Sometimes taking responsibility means staying available, committed, and present in your relationship with self… even if you are not quite sure what to say to yourself and instead you simply sit and patiently listen, which is how I found myself penning these words tonight:

True courage risks radical exposure. True strength, bold vulnerability. True love, deep intimacy. Our weakness is not found in our tender areas, authentic actions, and honest hearts; but in our attempts to elevate superficial successes over soul directed living and our refusal to honor and acknowledge that which is most real inside of us. 

A return to authenticity.

It strikes me that finding the theme of this new chapter will be best done by simply continuing to write the chapter as I go. Even if I struggle to find my words at times or make sense of where this plot is going. As long as I know where I really want to go- into the heart of transparent courage- I will get there.

There are always new mirrors to gaze into.