When I was much younger I thought about integrity as a moral virtue. It meant doing the right thing when no one was looking. It was a constant reminder of the need to make sure I was behaving rightly; being a good person no matter what. It was a word that felt out of my league.
In my most authentic moments, I couldn't be confident that I had true integrity.
But my understanding of integrity has changed over time. I understand it now to be more about being integrated within oneself; being whole as opposed to being compartmentalized.
If Taylor Swift Was God
My daughter absolutely adores Taylor Swift.
A few months ago we were discussing a scenario where she would actually meet her idol. She couldn't imagine anything but freaking out and nearly having a panic attack. I asked her why and she couldn't say exactly, just that the thought of it totally overwhelmed her. I suggested that it might be that she was thinking of Taylor Swift as something other than a human like her.
How would you feel if when you stuck your hand out to greet someone their eyes rolled back into their head and they started hyperventilating? I asked her.
That would be kind of uncomfortable, right? What if you had a really busy day, and now you have a potential first-aid situation on your hands? Or what if they turned out to be an amazing human who you would have enjoyed talking to, but your time was interrupted because they couldn't actually converse and hyperventilate at the same time?
I didn’t know yesterday was going to be a defining moment in my life. While it was happening I was pacing between event spaces in the beautiful clubhouse of our new apartment complex, anxiously scanning the activities of a few dozen middle schoolers, and then checking my watch. When parents came to pick up their children from my son’s twelfth birthday party I joked with them that it had been the longest two hours of my life.
A parent told me they heard a kid exclaim, “This was the greatest day of my life!”
Apparently it was a pretty rad party. I’m glad that was their experience. I was mostly trying to hear myself think, and keep myself from looking like a cop in a mosh pit.
The Only Things That Matter
For more than twenty years I obsessively searched for my unique purpose, and how to live it out uncompromisingly. My ideas of what would look like always felt complicated and far off. I accepted that it would involve sacrifice and hard work. My frustration was that I never understood how to find the path I needed to be on in order to get where I was supposed to go.
I watched peers achieve impressive accomplishments while I struggled to define who I was, and what I was doing with my life. Eventually, I discovered that the answers weren’t nearly as complicated or distant as I imagined.
Figuring out what we want in life, where to aim our ambition, and what the point of it all is, determines our real quality of life. As well as what we pass on. Our lives become the product of how we have answered or failed to answer those questions.