imitation, originality, and truth: the quest for authentic self

imitation originality truth authenticity

Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic.

Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said:

“It’s not where you take things from it’s where you take them to.”   Jim Jarmusch

Finding an authentic voice  among the saturated, rather noisy yoga world can be difficult these days. What does it even mean to BE authentic? As a friend of mine says, “Your choices are always your own, but it is inspiration that will spark your next move, and more than likely it will come from an external source.”

Could it be that authenticity means aligning with what is in the deepest folds of one’s heart? Alignment and the expression of that vulnerability. Excavating something so deep can take time- a lifetime even- and changes over the course of that time can make what was once authentic seem fickle or silly. Irrelevant, even. The proverbial sparrow tattoo that once symbolized creativity, freedom, escape? Maybe now, once kids have hit the scene tethering one to day-to-day realities and responsibilities, that sparrow seems more like a messenger from another lifetime. A relic from someone else’s adventurous past, not your own. Or perhaps the reminder of this other self- this evidence of growth and change- is actually the most authentic talisman one can carry.

Our desire to belong and our desire to be unique: these twin drives move us and shape us and frustrate us to no end. We may feel as though we are voicing what someone else already has said, or rather our fear of mediocrity makes us feel as though in order to be AMAZING we must be 100% original. Perhaps that is part of the process of finding one’s authentic self. The great masters began their education by copying the works of others. In replication there is contemplation, and slowly, eventually, there is authenticity, originality. Distillation and refinement to Truth.

Wherever you are on your journey, keep seeking, keep learning, keep trying and testing. You are putting your own mark on whatever it is that you choose to put focus on. Be open to listening, and to asking: Is this me? Is this NOT me at all?

Allowing ourselves to creatively explore all the paths to differentiation: this is authenticity. Because maybe you are speaking what has already been said, but as my favorite children’s author Nancy Tillman says,

For never before in story or rhyme / (not even once upon a time) / has the world ever known a you, my friend, /and it never will, not ever again…

Because maybe it has already been said, but never before by you, in your voice, from your heart.

Let what inspires you from the outside be what ignites you from the inside. It is what the world wants, and it is what will define you… authentically. Listen to what resonates in those deepest folds, and express with wild abandon. This is where originality is born.


Natalie HaltNatalie Halt is one of Gather’s co-founders and Managing Editor of the Gather Blog, GROW. Based in Charleston, South Carolina with her two young boys and husband, Frederic, she spends her time being a make-shift contributor to Grow when she isn’t chasing after small humans. A former world-class professional athlete and current healthy hedonist, Natalie’s love of inspiring people, places, tastes and sights makes creating GROW an absolute JOY of a lifestyle.


Photo by Daniel Borrelli, used with Creative Commons license.


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