I’m working on my next tattoo. A lot of people can’t believe I have even one tattoo, but the one I have is important to me! It looks like this,
It is the traditional Mandarin characters for authentic. If you know anything about my new book Being: A Journey Toward Presence and Authenticity, there are two ideas that are very important to me: Being who we are (authenticity) and being where we are (presence).
When I turned 50, and entered the second half of my life, I decided to get the first tattoo and commit myself to being authentic for the rest of my life. I was so thrilled to hear people at the book release for my new book describe me as real and authentic. It was the best possible thing they could say about me.
But now I want to get the other tattoo. In addition to being authentic, I also want to be present. So, I started talking to my son and his friend in Taiwan. They use the traditional characters that I like and I appreciate their input. I don’t want to end up like Elaine, on the Seinfeld show, with a soup tattoo so I am consulting with experts. This is the other half of my life mantra and I wanted it to be right.
The following is what we decided on. It is pronounced Cúnzài and is closely related to being present.
The literal meaning of the word might actually be exist, which discouraged me a little at first. I thought to myself, “Is that close enough to what I want to portray?”
As I wrote my latest book, Being: A Journey Toward Presence and Authenticity, I thought a lot about the two times in the Bible when I remembered the Father and Jesus describing themselves. When Moses said to to God in essence, “Who should I say sent me?” and God describes himself by saying “Tell them ‘I am’ has sent you.” Translated as “I am” in English, the Hebrew word hayah could easily be translated as “I come to pass.” It’s as much about becoming as it is about being. This presence of God – this being and becoming — is one of the things I hold on to.
Later, in the New Testament, Jesus words were recorded in Greek. In response to the Jews, Jesus tells them, “Before Abraham was, I am (ego eime). This phrase literally means, “I exist.”
When I think about being and becoming ( or being present and being authentic), I think about these Hebrew and Greek phrases often. And then today I came back to them once again when I researched the Mandarin word that supposedly is the best fit for being present only to find it means to exist.
Somehow my body and soul long to be authentic, but it seems they also need to understand that existing is not only enough, but is what will bring me ultimately to a better path of being and becoming.
I say to other people, “Be where you are, be who you are,” as I travel this journey of discovery. The thing I keep discovering over and over is the same thing other journeyers have discovered before me. Presence and authenticity are not only enough, they are possibly 2 of very few things that matter enough to pursue.
So, once again, I simply leave you with this simple hope.
Be where you are, be who you,