On Responsibility

My favorite view of Esalen <3

My favorite view of Esalen <3


I recently spent four weeks assisting my teacher (friend, sister, buddy), Coby Kozlowski, in a training called: Leadership, The Art of Skillful Living. The program was held at Esalen, a retreat center in Big Sur, on which I could spend this entire post writing. Big Sur is a portal, a spot on the planet for those interested in accessing true divinity, a place described by an Esalen friend as: “A land that makes me so aware that I live on a planet.” The glowing speckled night sky, filled with stars as far as the eyes can see, and the quiet sunrise illuminate layers of soft pink and orange in the silence of morning, when a new day lays ahead. Cliffs protrude out into the majestic Pacific sea, and roaring waves crash along the shore, calling all nearby ears to stop and listen. If there were ever a sound for “AUM,” the sound of the universe, it would be the roar of the sea. The enchanted forests are a giant playground for those called to its sanctity. Soaring Redwoods, many of whose tops are too high for the human eye to reach, spread across the land. “What have these trees seen?” I asked Coby on one of our many hikes. “Probably not very much,” she replied. Though not the response I expected, it was the one that actually felt true. The purity, untouched, and raw nature of the land felt so real and sacred. The forests had the feel of deep and rare solitude.

Nature aside, there is much to reflect on over the ways in which this month grew me. While there are many directions I could take with this post, the word I feel called to write about is: responsibility. A few years ago, I would have made a joke about my relationship to this word and  laughed it off, saying, “I don’t have much of that. I am free and fluid; my older sister is the responsible one.” Today, the story I tell myself is much different. To clarify: I am not referring to the kind of responsibility that is handed to me or that feels obligatory; rather a conscious and sincere choice to explore what it means to fully claim my life and step into responsibility. The type of responsibility where the only person holding me accountable is me.

I spent most of the month observing and learning from Coby. Among many of the ways in which she is brilliant, is her capacity to call people forth to courageously live their authentic truth and implore them to actually live it, not just talk about it. She does this is by placing full responsibility on her students to take ownership of their lives. She’s not there to babysit them, and at the end of the day, everyone who sits in her workshop is there by choice. Through empowerment, students are called forth to take responsibility for their choices, impact, and how they show up to each moment of their lives.

Some thoughts I explored over the month and have continued to work through are: What is it to be a responsible human being? How do we show up when no one is here to tell us what to do or where to go? What is it to be responsible when there is no external accountability? When there’s nobody watching? What is it to take responsibility for your impact? In a relationship? On the planet? Most importantly, what is it to take radical responsibility for your life, for the sake of sincerely thriving in this lifetime?

In the end, no one is responsible for how we show up to our lives, except our very selves. Each of us is being called in this lifetime to claim responsibility for our own lives and our impact on the collective. By taking responsibility for how we show up and the impact we want to make, we are invited into a deeper consciousness and intimacy with what it is to be a fully expressed human being.

Talia GutinComment