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What we all set out to be

The key to choosing what is authentic in life and keeping our own integrity at the same time lies in tending always in the direction of simplicity. It is a cry to develop a sense of “enoughness.” To learn to be happy with enough money, enough attention, enough success, and enough comfort take the senseless striving and accumulating and hoarding and competing out of life. It leaves us with more than status. It leaves us with a life worth living. When enough is never enough, happiness is always just out of reach and unrest is pervasive.

The truth is that too much of anything erodes its essential power. Too much partying leads to a loss of concentration. Too much travel leads to exhaustion. Too much makeup distances us from the glow of the natural. Too much self-talk identifies us as narcissists. Too much posturing, too much affect, too much drama leaves us clown-like and alone on the stage of life. There’s no one to talk to because few are really sure enough who this person is to risk the interaction.

Indeed, too much of anything robs us  —from Radical Spirit: 12 Ways to Live a Free and Authentic Life by Joan Chittister (Penguin Random House) of the rest of ourselves. It also cuts us off from others. It separates us out of the crowd, yes, but it can also separate us from the arena of the normal, the nice, the simple people of the world, who mean no harm, who hide no face, who are themselves sterling enough to assure the rest of us their quality.

The point is that only simplicity can save me from burying myself away from the world in layers of pretense so thick that I, most of all, have no idea of who or what I really am.

The effect of this kind of simple openness to the world is electric. Jesus said of Nathanael that he was “an Israelite in whom there is no guile.” He was a completely honest man who did not play at being anything that he was not. He was simple, direct, clear. He was what we all set out to be.

—from Radical Spirit: 12 Ways to Live a Free and Authentic Life by Joan Chittister (Penguin Random House)