Do you know who you are--do you know where you're going?
I believe it is a blessing and a curse that we have such easy access to the 'wealth' of information at our thumbs and fingertips these days. The blessing arises from the simplicity of finding amazing material to help us navigate this incredible life. The curse comes from the distraction of not knowing when to stop looking instead of digging in and doing the hard work of discovery.
There are so many books, magazine articles, workshops, motivational speakers and coaches, self-help courses, and opinions on this difficult, yet deceivingly simple, question! Who are you really?
Are you what you do?
How many times have you asked, and how many times has this been asked of you, “So, what do you do?”
That question is so ingrained in us that it is almost as impersonal as how we often ask in passing, “How are you doing?” and not really being present enough to want to know; we’re just being 'kind.'
If instead of, "what you do?" someone asked, “So, who are you?” What would you say?
Are you the roles you fill?
For example: Self, parent, child, grandchild, sibling, family member, community member, spouse, employee or employer, tax payer, church member, national or world citizen, etc, on and on.
Or how about your hobbies?
Hiker, geek, athlete, yoga practitioner, business person, motorcyclist, rafter, pilot, sailor, etc.
Are you your values?
Does your integrity, competitiveness, certainty, calmness, honesty, freedom, trustworthiness, work ethic, or connection to others define you; are your values who you are?
How about your spiritual belief or lack of one?
Most belief systems lean toward a “ghost in the machine” understanding of Self. Philosophers have pondered on who this observer is who lives within us. Is it mind, God, chemical changes in the brain, random firings of your neural synapses? I created an analogy for myself to voice my belief of spirit: In this life we are simply moving around in a rental car. This body isn't ours, we don’t own it, and we will need to turn it in when the contract expires. However the “Me” driving the rental isn’t turned in with the car.
I have no idea what comes next but have often enjoyed the peace of how differing beliefs try to explain this unknown that we travel into beyond the curtain of death. But that still barely covers the question... Who are you? (Or, more personally, Who am I?)
You’ve read this far musing over my questions waiting for my answer--sorry to disappoint you, but I don’t have an answer for you. I'm getting closer to an answer for myself, but what I am discovering is my answer.
I believe the question is important and spending time on discovery will make a significant impact in your life. It is what you get to identify on your own. I am here in this post to pose the question and ask you if you’ve thought about it at all lately.
Why is any of this important?
Well, going back to my example of driving around in a rental car we can bring the concept of Awareness into the picture. Awareness offers you a sense of presence in this moment. If you’re driving your real car around without really being in the vehicle then you are not really in the activity of living your life are you? I mean... you’re not even daydreaming. You’re just not there. You are lost in the thoughts you allow to distract your mind, your life, and your experience of the present moment. Sound harsh? Do you disagree? Think of this then....
How many times have you driven anywhere in your own car realizing somewhere along the drive that you weren’t really in the car? How often do you get to work and not really have any true direct experience of driving. Did you run any lights? Probably not, but there is a definite lack of awareness in the journey. Did you cut anyone off while talking on the phone oblivious to others around you? Again, probably not. But what does happen is that we are most often in our thoughts instead of in our car.
You are defined by the level of attention you give to your actions in this moment. Next time you brush your teeth -- try only brushing your teeth. Next time you talk to you partner -- be only with your partner. During dinner -- taste the food, feel the sensation of fueling your body, take your time. Multitasking minimizes your experience of life by letting you sample random moments without partaking of the feast. Don’t get me wrong, multitasking may be a useful tool. Unfortunately though it is how most of us live our lives.
I so often hear how quickly people around me describe their time as passing. I believe time is flexible; so did Einstein. You can be so caught up in a peak activity that time seems to stand still or at least come to a crawl for you. Other times you look up from your day and wonder where it all went? Being present slows time.
So, based on this idea, one understanding I have is that you are this moment right now. You will either be present to it or let it drift away like others before it. It's going to drift away regardless, but you will either experience it fully or you will discard it without a thought. You are not your occupation or the birth order in your family. You are not your body or your strengths and weaknesses. You are not what you believe, feel, or think. And you are not your mind.
This is ALL you have, all you are... just this moment. What are you going to do with it; how are you going to experience it? How will you spend this most finite resource?
All I ask is that you think about it for yourself.
Live your best,
P.S. Oh, if your answer is, “I don’t know who I am...” That is a GOOD thing. It means now you can go about this discovery with a clean slate. If you don’t know what or who you are, start by contemplating what or who you are not. Today is a great day to start. Right now. In this moment.