I am not I.
I am this one walking beside me whom I do not see,
whom at times I manage to visit, and whom at other times I forget;
who remains calm and silent while I talk, and forgives, gently, when I hate,
who walks where I am not,
who will remain standing when I die.
Juan Ramón Jiménez
Complexity Theorists like Patricia Shaw say that change happens through conversations. I’ve been reflecting on the courageous conversations we need to constantly engage in with our Self if we are to experience personal transformation positively…
When my life changed dramatically a couple of months ago, leaving me without my best friend, my business partners, my work and income, my sense of purpose and – for a while - the ability to walk - I was devastated but not altogether surprised.
Usually, some part of us knows in advance that the life we had yearned for and so diligently constructed has become too small to hold us. Yet we stay with the construction, afraid to pay attention to the larger possibilities that this prescient part of us points us towards. Looking back now I can see that I simply ignored “this one walking beside me.” I remained invested in an identity that was constraining my fullness and was avoiding having the deeper conversation with my Self.
It’s hard to say at what point in our journey our identities become locked rooms that keep us away from Life. It’s hard, too, to step beyond an identity that has meant so much to us for a good part of our lives, but which can no longer contain us. When were we made to feel so afraid of the world beyond our doorstep that we ignore its calling and settle for less?
There is no possibility of creating a life that doesn’t have change, loss and heartbreak in it. To do so is to wilfully turn against reality. Part of the grief process is to look after the part of us that wants to hide and not play anymore – the part that is not large enough to say goodbye to what is moving from us and hello to what is moving towards us. But when we learn that sometimes, the world won’t let us pass until we’ve called an end to the way we’ve come, we might learn to be in better conversation with the one who is Not I…