I was five minutes into a Greyhound Bus journey through America and the driver was welcoming us on board.
‘If y’all got anything you’d like to say to me, y’all come tell me, I got great ears for listening. But if any of y’all touch me, you’re going straight through that windshield.‘
He then went on to tell us that, although we could chew gum, we weren’t, under any circumstances, allowed to pop it. And if we ‘got into any trouble‘ while we were on board we were to let him know, so that he could ‘get the police to come meet the bus at the next stop.’
When I’d told people I’d met in America the previous week that I’d be travelling by Greyhound they all reacted in horror. ‘I hope you know how to fight,‘ one guy told me. Another advised me to keep a close watch on my belongings ‘AT ALL TIMES!’
But I wasn’t bothered, I just sat back and drank it all in, as the skyscrapers of Kansas City melted into the flat plains of Missouri and then the lush green mountains of Arkansas.
At every stop along the way, usually at a remote gas station, more characters would clamber on board, filling my mind with the classic writer’s mantra: WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHY and HOW?
Where was the spotty teenage boy going, with what looked like all of his worldly goods slung over his shoulder?
What was behind the driver’s decision to tell us we had ten minutes at each stop … but then drive off in five?!
And why were the group of Amish people, who got on just outside of a place named Peculiar, Missouri (true story) riding a bus when they were supposed to travel everywhere by horse and cart?
As I leaned back in my seat and drank it all in I felt awash with happiness … and then I realised I’d just entered a True Face zone.
True Face is a phrase I coined for my book of the same name, meaning your authentic self.
You enter a True Face zone whenever you do something that allows your true self to come to the fore and shine.
For some people that thing might be running, or baking, or making music or public speaking.
For me, my true self comes alive when I’m travelling.
I love the feeling of expansion and freedom it gives me.
And when that feeling washed over me on the Greyhound Bus, it was like being reunited with an old friend – an old friend I hadn’t seen in a very long time.
At the start of this year, my life took an unexpected twist into a very difficult time.
And, in an effort to stay on top of things, I completely lost sight of my true self.
Stress does that to you – it picks you up and wrings you out and sends you on to a weird kind of auto-pilot, in which your hopes and dreams and needs and joy are forced to take a back seat.
Maybe you can relate?
Maybe it feels as if you haven’t seen your true self in a long time too.
If so, can I make a suggestion?
Can I suggest that at some point this week you carve out some time for yourself and create a True Face zone of your own?
Go somewhere, do something, or see someone that really lights your true self up.
Lose yourself in the moment.
Let your true self step out of the shadows and shine.
I believe that one of the most important things we can do with our precious lives is make sure we live them authentically.
We mustn’t let our true selves be shrunk by other people’s expectations or our own fear.
We have to be who we truly are.
When I went to America I was expecting to see amazing sights and to eat delicious food and have fun times with family and friends.
The one thing I wasn’t expecting was to be reunited with my free-spirited, true self.
It was the nicest surprise of the trip.
In a wonderful twist of fate, True Face is being published in the US next month.
Full of real-life anecdotes from myself and others, and packed full of exercises, tips and advice, it will help you let go of fear and allow your true self to shine.
It is already available for US readers to buy on Amazon.com here.
And you can read a recent review of the book here.
(UK readers can get the book here.)