I recently came across a journal prompt that went like this: “When everything else is stripped away, and no one’s opinion is influencing you, what is your truth?” Well now. That is quite the question, right? As many of you know, I spend lots of time each week with three little people under the age of five who I can guarantee you know the answer. For them, truth equals self; they are one and the same. Up until a certain point, we all shared that perspective. We were blissfully unaware that everyone views the world in a different way, which led us to the logical conclusion that everyone must see us exactly as we see ourselves. The possibility of not being accepted was nowhere on our radar. Around the time we turned five years old, however, we began to become self aware, and that led to the realization that other people aren’t always thinking and feeling the same way we are. Self awareness in an adult is a wonderful thing. It enables us to understand and recognize our strengths and weaknesses, and it heightens our intuitive response to other people’s feelings and circumstances. The first inkling of self awareness in a child, however, most likely comes as a bit of a shock. This is the moment when we discover that in addition to being very different as individuals, there is also a kind of social ranking that exists between us. What comes next makes matters even worse: we soon learn that we’re going to have to figure out how we fit into that hierarchy, and whether or not our truth is going to make that process easier or harder.
Once we recognize that the world is a “there’s me, and then there’s everyone else” kind of place, we take our first steps towards deciding how much we want to conform. The more we feel the need to fit in, the farther we will venture from our truth. What is it exactly that drives that need? I think it depends on a number of factors, but a safe place to start is with the idea that feeling weird or different amongst our peers, especially when we are young, is extremely uncomfortable. It’s the emotional equivalent of wearing our itchiest wool sweater on the warmest day in June. Why would we ever want to do that? In response to this discomfort we may try to ignore the things about ourselves that make us feel like we stand out. We may even actively push these things down as hard as we can, hoping they will never surface again. When I was an eight year old child, I wanted nothing more than to draw maps, read books, study dinosaurs, and classify insects. I was odd for sure. I lived on a street full of boys whose favorite activity was to see who could spit the farthest, while the girls did the measuring. Scintillating stuff. Nevertheless, I put my maps away, never mentioned my books or dinosaurs, and told almost no one that finding a katydid or a praying mantis made my heart leap for joy. I fell in line, and I continued to do so for quite some time. Yet no matter how far down into the depths our truth retreats, it does not ever disappear. It remains sitting quietly, in the dark, waiting for the day when we will be ready to reveal it once again.
Until that day comes, the itchy wool sweater feeling acts as an emotional compass for navigating the big and small moments that continue to further separate our sense of truth from our sense of self. The more uncomfortable we are at any given time, the more we know that we are experiencing the internal conflict that comes from not being true to who we really are. Along the way there will be many chances to embrace that which makes us genuine and real. While some will be astonishingly monumental, most will be utterly mundane. Some may be instances of life changing self discovery, but most will be opportunities like simply being kinder to a person who has accepted their truth and dares to be different. Even when we make the decision to just tear off the sweater and eliminate the discomfort, the moment of conflict does not go away. The truth will give us a pass on that day, and maybe for a few more, but eventually it will insist on being acknowledged. What if we lived our lives according to the journal prompt? What if we stripped everything else away? Just entertaining the notion would move us one step closer to the place where we would find our truth again, and where we could tell our eight year old selves that there is no reason to ever let go of what the five year old had grown to love. There is no reason to ever feel embarrassed, or ashamed, or unaccepted, or less. And there will never be a reason to make another person feel that way. Therein lies the most important truth of all: when everything else is stripped away, we return to being one and the same.
For today’s cocktail, I began with tequila, the spirit that prompts more truth telling than any other I know. I added some mezcal, and I would encourage you to do the same, but the amount can most definitely vary. Remember that mezcal is a lot like a smoky Scotch, so you may find that it’s really not quite to your liking. We can call it a matter of taste, but where tequila represents the truth in this cocktail, the mezcal is meant to symbolize the smokescreens we hide behind while we’re navigating our life’s journey. Only you know what the exact spirit ratio should be! Since tequila and mezcal form the base of a margarita, I decided to go in that direction. To figure out a main flavor profile that would tie together the theme of this post, I did some research on the herbs and flowers that are related to the planet Pluto, the astrological keeper of all our secrets. It turns out that hibiscus corresponds to the purification and regeneration that come from searching deep into our souls, and basil is connected to the idea of the truth that can be found in our dreams. As luck would have it, these two flavors blend wonderfully together and work extremely well with the tequila/mezcal base. For the citrus, I used lime juice, an essential part of any margarita, and I also added two dashes of Hibiscus Lavender bitters, made in house and sold at Recklesstown Farm Distillery. The original recipe is actually my own! The bitters echoed the hibiscus flavor, and they gave the cocktail a bit of a lift on the finish. Authenticity always leads to hope. Cheers everyone. Happy Friday! Thank you so much for reading.
Hibiscus sea salt garnish.
*You can use dried hibiscus flowers or tea bags.
**The ratio for this syrup is 2 parts agave, 1 part simple syrup, and 1 part basil water. The basil water is made from steeping fresh basil in water that has been brought to a simmer and then taken off the heat. Steep for 15 minutes, covered, then strain.