QUITE SOME TIME ago I traveled solo by bus and train across England to a retreat center, a bed-and-breakfast, in Glastonbury. Arriving at the same time was a group of guests who had signed up for a crystal and meditation workshop. One morning, a few of us were sitting around the kitchen table when one of the guys picked up a switcher and said the TV can be a spiritual experience. In the same vein as picking random paragraphs to read from a shelf of books, he told me that he often made amazing discoveries by randomly switching channels and discovering what happened to come out of the television.
He spoke the truth, for our external world is quite prepared to astonish us if we give it a chance.
For as much as I decry a lot of what is on the tube, I am constantly discovering new and surprising insights while watching people in relationship with each other, and some shows really know how to tug at the heartstrings. Some astound you when you least expect it.
The other day, I was watching “The Voice,” NBC’s singing competition, which just concluded its fourth season. Usher — one of four star judges — found himself with only one contestant left on his team after elimination rounds: Michelle Chamuel, a short, young woman with a distinctive voice, a body that never stops moving and a trademark lunge when she is hitting the big notes. Her large, black-framed glasses endeared her to her fans.
What she proved as the second-place finisher this season was her ability to touch the soul with her voice. Certainly not a favorite early on in the competition, Michelle proved increasingly each week that she was something special.
Then, during a routine comment after one of her performances, her coach Usher said this: “The standard changes every time someone steps out and does something different.”
That spoke to me.
I thought about the 7 billion people living together on this blue marble of a planet, how interconnected we all are, and how one of us can change the vibration for all of us when we choose to be who we truly are.
Authenticity is a current catchphrase, but it’s not just a synonym for honesty. It’s brutal honesty down to the soul, about who we are and what we feel. No more going through the motions. No more doing something while knowing it holds no spark of aliveness for us. No more white lies or deception, especially if you’re the only one who knows.
Usher’s sentiments towards Michelle reminded me that there is no greater act of bravery than stepping out and expressing our soul to the world.
How would the world be different if every human being was authentic, 100 percent of the time? Would we even recognize where we were? Or would it seem like a science fiction story in which idealism becomes the norm, and when the TV is turned off, our reality pales in comparison?
I, for one, feel the path of authenticity is the beginning of great change for all of us.