In January 2010 I made a verbal commitment that I was a writer, that being a writer was my profession.
This was no New Year’s resolution, no target I wanted to achieve, it was a clear statement of who I was then and who I was going to continue to be going forward.
It sounded simple but for me it was a game changer.
“You can’t lead a cavalry if you think you look funny riding a horse.” (John Peers)
Identity was something I struggled with through my life. I was many people to myself and, especially, to others. I was an electrician, a lighting designer, a union rep, an association president, a counselor, a husband, a father, a control freak, a mountain climber….
These were all valid and real people but who was I. Where was the Graham Phoenix who was an integration of all these parts?
The journey started one day in Windsor Great Park. A friend, Katharine Dever, was launching her first live event. We walked up the park in silence and thought about our lives. I realised what a confused mass of people I was and that the people I spent time with only knew their particular bit of me. I committed then to open up all of me to all of them.
This is scary. To seek refuge in containing and controlling what people see of you is the easiest route. For everyone to be able to know everything about you is a very scary.
I launched a process of integration and education for myself, my family, my colleagues, everyone who knew me. My life was to be an open book.
When writing publicly you open yourself up to the world, to its ridicule, to its love. Being a writer you take it all.
My design colleagues were intrigued and puzzled. Lighting designers write about lighting and don’t go all emotional and spiritual. I gave speeches that mixed design with my spiritual approach to life, esoteric talks at conferences on lighting, spirituality and inspiration. I integrated outer and inner light.
So I was now being a writer.
Why is this important, what does this mean to you? Only you can find the answer and explore what it means for you. If you avoid going inside and exploring this situation you will be missing an amazing opportunity to integrate yourself with your life. This is easy to do and you are most likely to end up doing this. You may well read this article, say, “interesting…” and move on. How does it help you to bring up all the emotions you spend time holding in check?
Men hold in their emotions in, they have responsibilities in the world, they need to go out and kick-ass and that certainly does not involve emotions. It is this process of stuffing down emotions that causes the separation of people into different personalities, it is this refusal to acknowledge all of you that keeps the compartments alive.
Integrating means exploring and revealing emotions, but it also meant freedom. The catch is that freedom catapults you into vulnerability. You need to step out into a world where you have no idea how people are going to react. You step into the arena full of lions and open yourself up. You can only do that if you accept and embrace your vulnerability.
Being the writer I am I accept vulnerability and uncertainty as key elements in my life. That, however, is a small price to pay for the ability to inspire and lead people into their own re-awakening, into their own place of growth.