Authenticity and Nature

This past July my husband, children and I spent two days at a farm in NY state where we slept in a luxury lean-to/tent. Because I have been thinking a lot about authenticity and its importance in coaching, spending a weekend in nature seemed like a dream. I had visions of my daughter giving a milk bottle to a lamb, sharing a family bed, and breast feeding my son while watching my husband cook on the outdoor grill. I was convinced that I’d come home revitalized by nature’s horn of plenty, and ready to give it all up to join on as full-time farm hand.

Here’s how it really went: We were exhausted. The running water and luxury tent raised the bar high. No pb&j and chili around the campfire. Instead, fresh salad with homemade dressing, grilled meats, warm bread, wine, fully and elegantly set table. And all of the hand-washed dishes, in water we heated ourselves, to last a lifetime. The farmers were lovely – organic pioneers who gave up corporate life to be a living example to the world about the benefits of organic living. In truth, so many of the small farms have been absorbed by large-scale farms, that only ‘gentleman’ farms of this size remain. Either way, life on a farm is hard. There are no luxuries, and a lot of the fantasy is quashed by the relentlessness of the work.

I realized that weekend, perhaps disappointingly, that my own authenticity can be found in something much more bourgeois. Give me a day visit to the farm. Give me the organic section at Fairway. And, give me a long, beautiful hike in the woods followed by a warm bath in a large porcelain tub. For me, authenticity is knowing what you can tolerate and then tossing away that internal voice that judges you. And the work of authenticity is in remaining vigilant about which voices are yours and which crept in from the outside.

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