Gardening, Louis C. K., Howard Stern, and Living from Your True Self

by Brian Leaf

I hate gardening.

Don’t get me wrong; I love the idea of gardening. Truly. And I wish I was a gardener. I know that gardeners are better people than me.

So I do try.

Sometimes, on a Sunday, I join my wife and our boys in the back yard. I squat down among the carrot seedlings and pick weeds. Feels great. We’re together as a family. We’re in nature. We’re growing food, creating life. We matter.

But 10 minutes later, I’m bored, my back aches, I’m itchy, and I’m sure I have bugs under my clothes.

So I head in to start cooking dinner. That gets me off the hook.

Last week I was speaking with my editor. He was surprised that I had finished a manuscript ahead of schedule. Again. At his praise, I had an epiphany: Finishing books is easy for me. I can write for hours without fatigue or struggle. Yet I’m hardly proud of it, sure that I’d be a better person as a gardener or, dare to dream, a farmer. Then I’d matter.

But that’s not really true. I once heard Deepak Chopra comment that to predict your longevity, answer the following question, “How do you feel when you wake up for work on Monday morning?”

As a writer, I can’t wait to get at it. I’m bright-eyed and eager. But, if I imagine myself as a farmer … well, not so much.

Someone else might thrive as a farmer yet dread even 10 minutes at a word processor. And that’s just the point. We each play our particular role in the cosmic quilt. And we serve the world best and find the most success and abundance when playing our part. When being our true selves.

Recently, I heard comedian Louis C. K. speak during a tribute to George Carlin. He commented that for 15 years he had used the same recycled jokes. But Carlin inspired him to be real, to say what he really thought and had been afraid to share. So Louis C. K. ditched his old jokes and was himself, and talked about what he really cared about. Immediately, his career took off.

Howard Stern tells a similar story. Early in his career, he was a radio DJ with very modest success. One day, he was missing the script for a commercial. Too thrown off to act in his radio persona, he ad-libbed as himself, in his own voice. He relaxed. His voice dropped. And his true career began.

I’m sure there are many such stories—of famous people, like Louis C. K. and Howard Stern, and of everyday folks like myself. Acknowledging and accepting who we really are and expressing this true self to the world is, I believe, the very key to success, abundance, and a happy life.

For me, this means acknowledging that I am not a gardener or a farmer. I am a writer. It’s what I truly love to do.

Brian Leaf is a Kripalu Yoga teacher and the author of 12 books, including the memoirs Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi and Misadventures of a Parenting Yogi.

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