It's 9 days ago. I'm lying face down on a tattoo parlor table. The pain is beyond what I imagined. It's not stopping. I tell myself it will be over soon. Soon is taking quite a while. Each branch of the tree has to be traced and filled in. The leaves need to be added--each leaf another needle. Eventually, I embrace the pain. I stop cringing. I lean into it. It becomes the metaphor for why I'm here--1000 miles from home, alone, getting a tattoo of a tree on my back.
I'm here because my friends loved me and believed in me and sent me to a world class leadership program. I'm alone because I must be, and I'm getting a tree on my back because the tree is the symbol of my true life.
Beauty and pain are inextricably linked. Authenticity--what my new tattoo represents--is not possible without pain.
So, many years ago I set clear intentions for my life: I want my insides to match my outsides. I want to be real. I want to live authentically. I knew at the time that this was not an easy task. I knew it would cost me things to live out those intentions. Mostly I knew that I would have to drastically change for those intentions to turn into reality.
Today--I turn 40.
Truth. My life has never been better. Ever.
I get to do what I love every day. I have the most amazing friends in the world. I get to be a dad to two smart, beautiful, accomplished, and kind children. I get to experience relationships with truth and intimacy.
But, like in the tattoo parlor, this beauty doesn't come painlessly. In early June, my personal life came crashing apart. My biggest fear came true and my closest relationship came to an abrupt end. I was abandoned. I was devastated. I could barely breathe. I have never experienced such searing pain.
It was in these moments that my friends showed up. They have shown up emotionally. They have shown up physically from all over. They have shown up financially. I have been loved in the midst of my vulnerability.
What I have learned from these friends is that I am believed in. That I made a difference in their life and in my need they want to do the same for me. I have learned that I am valuable just as I am—just because I am Ken.
I enter my 40s in the best place I have ever been.
Join me in my celebration of authenticity. Discover for yourself what being real looks like. Enter into it. Experience it. Tell me what you discover.