The endless raging debate ends, the constant uphill struggle ends, the inner hostility of a lifetime ends only when I achieve a true and enduring congruence within myself. Congruence is a simple enough idea – just not such a simple gig.
Congruence is when the me I take into my daily life is a harmonious union of the me I most naturally am and the me I most want to be.
I am who I am partly by nature. This is how I was “originally made”. The factory settings, if you like. I don’t have anything to do with it. And apart from the obvious genetic input from my parents, nobody else really has anything to do with it either. Certain attributes just come built in. I call this the “received me”, the me I am handed on arrival, the me who I have no real choice but to be.
But I am who I am partly by nurture, by which I mean the huge range of influences and forces that shape me over the years. Early in my life these are mainly external forces well beyond my control. But as I grow in strength, understanding and worldly skills, I exert a far greater personal influence. I start shaping my own environment. I start choosing my own relationships. I start developing my own aspirations and activities.
Most profoundly, I form aspirations about who I want to be, not just what I want to do. And it’s in in the deliberate pursuit of these aspirations that something new – or, more correctly, someone new – begins to emerge. I call this emerging someone the “cultivated me”.
Congruence is a harmony between the received me and the cultivated me. This can be a tricky harmony to achieve. The two are sometimes playing very different tunes. They are also sometimes complete strangers to one another.
It takes resolve, courage and sensitivity to get up close and personal to each of them, to develop a respect and love for each of them and to bring them together in a balanced and enriching union. This is the essence of my personal “spiritual practice”. This is where I willingly surrender to the indelibly natural me and deliberately cultivate the as yet unrealised me I aspire to be.
In this practice I commit to the subtle and profound mystery of being both the seed and the sower, the art and the artist, the clay and the potter. Simultaneously I am both surrendered and engaged, receptive and assertive, self-accepting and self-defining.
This is not some polarised duality where I pick my team and play to win. This is a very different ball-game. This is a marriage! And it’s a marriage we neglect at our peril.
Throughout my adult life I think it’s fair to say that the rumblings and fractures in this marriage have been at the heart of nearly all the troubles I’ve ever had. How blessed and grateful I am now at this later stage in my life where the gradual, steady blossoming of this inner union is yielding an admittedly modest, yet still unprecedented harvest of balance, boldness, joy, freedom and contentment.