Year of Discovery (Week 44: One’s Truth & Theatre)

Audrey Cheng
4 min readFeb 11, 2022

When time is bound by an externally determined start and end, every day begins to feel so precious. My time in Chicago ends in just five weeks and I’m floored by how quickly time has passed. As the end nears, nostalgia and longing flow through my senses. I’m left with gratitude and an emerging acceptance that my life will be driven more by questions and curiosity than answers and pure conviction.

Today, I’m sharing a personal reflection on living one’s truth and live theatre.

Living One’s Truth

​​My Year of Discovery has been an ongoing battle to understand what it means to live my truth. Coming back to the US from East Africa, I grappled with what it means to have enough, to do the right thing, and to make the right choices. I reflected more on my values system, why I took a more unconventional path and how I will stay true to myself in the present and future moments. There have been weeks where I hit so many dead ends that I found myself peaking through an alternative door and wondered if I should turn around and choose another path.

On each path, my mind has opened to new possibilities as I dove into new knowledge areas and connected multiple disciplines across my mental map, spurning new ideas. While deciding to choose an alternative door can sometimes feel like starting from square one, I marvel in the pauses where I look around and realize how full my world has become. Creation is brewing.

I’m learning how to catch myself when ‘right’ versus ‘wrong’ arises in my mind as a judgment. When thinking in polarities, I may take on other people’s truths with ease, but ultimately, the inauthenticity of not living my own truth stifles my curiosity. Oftentimes, I’m fighting the different flavors of fear that arise and the expectations deeply ingrained from my family and culture, or, even harder, the expectations I set for myself. Within each of those battles, the casualties need to be mourned as I hold steadfast to my sense of truth.

Life is ever evolving and what I may find to be my truth today might not be the case a year from now.

“You think you supposed to know everything. Life is a mystery. Don’t you know life is a mystery? I see you still trying to figure it out. It ain’t all for you to know. It’s all an adventure. That’s all life is. But you got to trust that adventure.”

— Aunt Esther from Gem of the Ocean

For me, living my truth today is

  1. grounding myself in a philosophy (impermanence, non-attachment, roots of suffering) through practice
  2. trusting in my experience and intuition
  3. choosing to do work that serves people well beyond myself
  4. seeing financial means as a tool to drive agendas to better the world rather than the end goal itself
  5. enjoying the magic of building and creating

Reflection: What are the components of your truth?

Live Theatre

One of the things I’ve missed the most being away from the States is live theatre. I went to see August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean over the weekend and my soul time traveled through decades, immersed in the realities of the African American experience in twentieth-century America. Theatre’s power comes from the actors who invite the audience — merely a few feet away — into their characters’ world through the transparent fourth wall that rarely breaks. It comes from intimately removing the barrier between the audience and the characters, building bridges of empathy that elicit further connectedness that might not have been as possible otherwise. It reminds us of our shared humanness that exists when we remove the prejudgments we carry around everyday.

For me, the theatre felt safe. The dark room filled with onlookers eying a well-designed stage seemed frozen in time while the few characters on stage captured and recreated a storyline that tensed the soul and pulled heartstrings.

The characters played with themes of freedom and self as the identity of African Americans evolved after the American Civil War. One of the main characters Aunt Esther represented “the faith healer of souls, keeper of history, community anchor, spiritual mother, collective conscience and consciousness, bridging from African roots across the Diaspora to the current black experience.” Her powerful persona housed the energies and general conscience of black American history. As she supported another character through his trials and demons, I reflected on the way trauma travels through generations inconspicuously and how often we hold the suffering of past hurt without realizing. While I empathized deeply with the characters, I also thought more about the pain I carry from my ancestors.

I left the play in tears — those of relief and sorrow.

Reflection: What has been your favorite live performance and why?

What I’ve been listening to this week: Platon and the Optimism of the Human Condition



Audrey Cheng

Taiwanese American. Curious about ideas and solutions that support human flourishing.