Archives for posts with tag: who am I?

Are you a Republican? A Democrat? An “Independent”? A “liberal”? A “conservative”? “Right wing”? “Left wing”? Progressive? A “nationalist”? A “patriot”? Among the “faithful”? An atheist? A “free-thinker”? Cis-gender? “Gender queer”? Non-binary? Are you a “social justice warrior”? A “snowflake”? A capitalist? A socialist? A communist? An anarchist? Neurotypical? “On the spectrum”?

Are you fused with an identity, seeing yourself as part of a specific limited group with specific challenges, limitations, requirements, rights, or burdens to bear that no one else can understand, and everyone else stands against? Have you divided the world into “us” and “them”?

That’s a lot of work. Maintaining the details of identity moment to moment, protecting it, shoring up the details of that internal narrative overtime and through conflict sounds like a lot to take on. Does it have real value? Are you that, and only that? Really? Are you even actually definably that at all?

I woke up this morning thinking about pigeonholes, identity, definition, and the way  I can so easily limit myself by becoming fused to just one element of my experience, potentially even building road blocks on my journey through life that may not have been there, in fact, at all. We make up most of our understanding of our own experience (and who we each are) out of “thin air”. Who are you? What matters most about that person in the mirror? If life ended in this moment, right now, no time to prepare – and in the next, strangers were going through your things – what would they learn about you? Is that the legacy you want left behind? What is your truth?

Who are you? Who am I?

My visit with my therapist yesterday was productive, and peculiarly comfortable and celebratory. I heard words I’ve never heard from a therapist before. “Well… do you want to just give me a call in a few weeks, if you want to see me again? I don’t think we need to schedule anything regular…” That’s probably not verbatim. I recall the moment more than the words.

Well. So, I guess I adult decently well these days. That’s… scary and cool. Who am I? The woman in the mirror doesn’t look different to me. There’s a thread of recognizable self that reaches back all the way to my earliest memories. I’m not any of the things it is so tempting to grasp to fill out some sort of “profile” of self-ness, though. It’s a strange awareness. I could say “I am…” and begin a long list of all the qualities and characteristics that could be used to identify me, but I am not any one of those things. If I allow myself that moment to fuse with some one characteristic or quality of my experience (“anarchist”, “liberal”, “progressive”, “survivor”, “veteran”, “woman”, “artist”…), I seriously undermine my experience of self. There’s so much more to me than any one quality.

I decide to stop wearing any labels, at least today, and enjoy that feeling of wholeness, of being human, of simply being. If we could each stop dividing our experiences into “us” and “them”, we could begin to change the world.

Isn’t it time to begin again?

This morning over my coffee I watched a video that resonates with me, another way of saying things about this amazing journey, another way to say “the way out is through”. Maybe you’ll enjoy it too? The Nerdwriter is a personal favorite, and this particular video on “Kintsugi” says much, quite simply.

So, this morning I go forward into the day thinking about the chaos and damage in another way; I am who I am because I’ve been through what I’ve been through, and made the choices I’ve made, and lived the moments I’ve lived… and I like a lot of who I am. There is a balance to be struck between grieving past trauma, and respecting the woman in the mirror; it’s been a hell of a journey, and we’ve come a long way together. Some of my “best” qualities as a thinking, feeling, reasoning, loving, being are a direct result of my brain injury…so… who am I? Am I my trauma? No. Am I some creation beyond or outside my experiences of trauma? Not that either.

I think I’ll stop throwing away broken porcelain. There is a better way. 🙂

 

Tomorrow I go back to work. That isn’t today. Today, however, is a good day to prepare, to make myself ready, to review plans and expectations, to jot down questions, to plot a new commute with care, and plan out new routines that take into account my return to the workforce, as well as the likelihood that I’ll be seeing a great deal more of my traveling partner as the weather turns from festival summer to fireside fall.

The end of a chilly rainy autumn day.

Yesterday ended well, although chilly.

Who am I? It seems a day for such questions. Rainy. Mild. More yellow and amber tones in the leaves of the trees on the far side of the park than there were yesterday. Evidence of time passing, and of seasons changing. I feel transformed, myself, and able to face the prospect of working with quite a bit more contentment, and in much less day-to-day pain, even with the chill of autumn approaching. Has it really meant so much to take this time to care for myself, to live on my own terms, to follow my own agenda? Just six months? Worth it. Totally worth it. I’ll even be taking understandings gained and this perspective on the healing power of leisure into the workplace with me; I’ve learned a lot that has value to long-term workforce management strategies. Am I this person, this analyst-manager, this workforce management professional, this corporate employee? Is this who I am? No. Not really. I am not my work.

I look around the studio, very tidy – even projects in progress are cleaned up, for now, and put neatly aside. I’ll have a guest for some days, soon. Is this who I am? Hostess? Family member, local matriarch, devoted servant of home and hearth? Or am I the artist who has so accommodatingly set everything aside to welcome friends in need, lovers in distress, a traveler returning home, or family visiting from afar? Am I the frustrated citizen, attempting to dot i’s, cross t’s, and jump through hoops of paperwork on fire to comply with some requirement or another? Am I the disabled veteran, committed to my wellness, frustrated by “the system”, still doing what I can to meet my own needs over time, through diet, exercise, and careful management of my health? Am I the woman on the meditation cushion in the window, content, calm, relaxed? (Occasionally distracted with childlike delight to see a squirrel dart past, or a woodpecker stop at the suet feeder, sending both bird and feeder spinning crazily, to my great amusement.)

Who am I? Am I all these – or none? When I cling to some singular potentially defining quality, like my appearance, or an attitude, or a characteristic, or some detail singled out, change becomes such a frightening destructive force, with the potential to rob me of who I am. “Who am I?” is a question that quite honestly used to terrify me – not because I didn’t have a sense of self, but because I didn’t know what “the right answer” was, and that, by itself, was quite terrifying. Follow that with finding myself unclear on precisely what is required to prove the answer. Yep. Terrifying to feel so… unidentified.

There is no “right” answer. There may be quite a few… not “wrong” exactly… “incorrect”? Inaccurate. There may be quite a few inaccurate answers. I take time to consider the difference between “accurate” and “honest”. Truthful fits in there, somewhere, too. I’m not sure that accuracy in the details that describe this being of light wrapped in this fragile vessel made of meat actually answers the question “who am I?” at all well.

It’s a pleasant enough autumn morning, on the edge of a major life change. It seems a good time to give a moment of thought and consideration to the woman in the mirror. It doesn’t have to be fancy, or deep, or complicated; I’ll pick out work clothes for tomorrow at some point later, and likely find myself contemplating the woman in the mirror, who she has become, where she is headed, and how she hopes to share herself in this new context. That’s enough for now. 🙂

A cloudy autumn day suitable for hiking. A good day to walk on; the journey isn't about the destination.

Today begins well, a cloudy autumn day suitable for hiking. The season is changing.

Today is a good day to consider the journey. Today is a good day to walk on. Change is. Perhaps it’s just the season for it? 🙂

I’m sitting here, awake early, watching the slow lightening of daybreak becoming a new day, stormy skies overhead, the sounds of traffic muffled and distant. I was sitting here thinking something or other… and like a jigsaw puzzle piece which has an obvious placement, without searching for it in this moment, I recognize that the verbal form (figure of speech?) to say that something is or is not “supposed to…” is an indicator of an assumption being made. Damn that is so entirely obvious. I mean, by definition, I think I “knew that”…only… now I also “get it”. Well… An improved understanding on any terms is nonetheless an improved understanding. Maybe I also actually already understood that fairly deeply… and only this morning experienced the ‘a-ha!’ moment of “getting it” – detached from the actual experience of making the connection at some other point? Perhaps the feeling is simply a feeling, like so many sensory or emotional experiences, and potentially prone to error?  I don’t know how all the variables of learning, understanding, reasoning, and the sensations of experience epiphanies actually work, and admittedly, I am also aware that my “novelty recognition circuitry” is pretty impaired. 🙂

I do think, in this moment, that I now understand more easily and with a greater sense of clarity that assumptions don’t work (than I had previously), and the understanding is based on also understanding that using the phrasing “supposed to” straight up shouts that one or more assumptions that do not align to reality are being made. It’s a helpful thing to be aware of in conversation.

It’s not the first time I’ve been slow to catch on to something, although quite commonly it’s something humorous that I’m not getting, specifically. There are any number of little quirks and oddities of character that result from brain injuries. Like Witzelsucht or “Gourmand Syndrome“. It often gets me wondering how many “eccentric” or “quirky” people historically actually had some sort of brain trauma? We have barely scratched the surface of what there is to know about the brain… and… we’re using the brain itself to do the work of learning more. I wonder if “conflict of interest” ever comes up… I mean… consciousness itself may have a stake in how much we understand. And then, too, if everyone – or approximately almost everyone – has some sort of brain trauma, over time, what is “normal”? Who decides that? Why do they get to decide for everyone else?

A stop along memory lane, Cafe Schenk, Pfersee.

A stop along memory lane, Cafe Schenk, Pfersee.

I continue to sip my coffee quite contentedly. It’s a Monday with a couple appointments, and some hang out time with my traveling partner at day’s end. I don’t have much on my mind, aside from my health, and that mostly because I am over 50, and didn’t do a great job of taking care of my health when I was much younger, rather than due to diagnosed illness. (You! There are on the couch, 20-something me, you do not need that additional tasty slice of torte, and you’d do well to try to get some damned sleep. Please?? And please leave out some reminders for 30-something me to get off her ass and get some exercise! It’s all going to matter so much, later.) Pretty routine stuff for now; I’d do well to lose a few pounds, and to get into better shape. Physical therapy and keeping an eye on calories and nutrition, walking more (more than that), and getting enough rest are a good starting point. So many damned verbs.

It's a journey.

It’s a journey.

The challenges of the past few days seem less threatening in the cool morning air, with the security of fresh hot coffee warming my hands. How much of my experience is illusions built on emotions, sensations, and assumptions? How much of that can I replace with observation, mindful acceptance, and non-judgmental awareness? Questions for a Monday. Today is a good day to be the change I wish to see in the world – I say it often; this morning I hear the words, and listen to the meaning. There are still verbs involved. I know that my results may vary. I’m okay right now – I can begin again, any time. 🙂

…isn’t what I thought I said. I woke up with those words in my head, and the soundtrack to my dreams still playing in my head. My impression was that I was the source of the music, myself. Funny how the bits and pieces of my days fills my dreams – or at least fills in the details, and provides a bit of familiarity to the strangeness.

I spent Sunday practicing on my bass guitar, taking breaks each time my forearms began to ache again. I’d watch an episode of Cowboy Bebop, which has theme music in a genre I really enjoy, musically. Sometimes I’d fill a break with live performance videos of bands with great bass players. Saffron Monkey. The Brothers Johnson. Stanley Clarke. There are a lot of amazing bassists. It’s sometimes hard to get a good look at them; most of the focus is on the lead singer, lead guitar player, or other ‘showy’ elements of a planned performance. I enjoyed the day filled with music. I kept coming back to the Seatbelts, the source of the day’s inspiration.

I found myself generally disinclined to be part of the everyday fuss and bother of the media outrage machinery, and although I quickly skimmed the headlines for the day, early on, I quickly lost interest and set it aside. It was enough to sass the headlines to myself, for amusement. I mean, seriously? It’s not likely there is going to be ‘real’ actually new information in most articles headlining today’s news, either… shall we take a look together?

I choose a mainstream retailer of information and head to the home page. “Baton Rouge Bloodbath!” – nope, yesterday’s news right there. Moving along… “7 Things You Need to Know”… about the Republican convention? I think not. That’s not news, it’s click bait. lol If I’m Republican, I already have whatever information is presented, probably days ago. If I’m a Democrat, Independent, or other sort of voter, well, I don’t actually care about the Republican convention at all. It’s a performance piece. “Obama Pleads for Unity” – with a very sorrowful, somber picture. Well, that’s part of his job. Done. Next? “Turkey Detains 6000 People” Yeah… messy when a coup attempt fails. Things are hard over there. Will I get the best perspective from a news retailer seeking ad revenue, clicks, and viewers with their highest priority on gross margin? Probably not. Might have to wait for the history books before a broad global perspective is really available… or wait for Noam Chomsky to write about it. Civil war is ugly stuff. I know that, and for now that’s enough. “Donald Trump Floats Grotesque New Conspiracy Theory About Barack Obama” Huh. They almost got me with this one – maybe because they used more words, giving the impression this really matters, but truthfully? Does it? I mean… do I even care what some rich nut bag makes up on the fly to smear peers or competitors? Don’t I just play the game by even taking time to read the story? I move on, with a hint of a smug smile; I beat the game on this one. I go down the list of headlines, finding nothing of real substance worth my attention [at least not in the presented format, by the providing news source]. Why should I get all churned up over bullshit first thing in the morning? Seems silly.

I watch the neighborhood cats prowl the edge of the meadow. After weeks of laughing at their efforts, I saw one catch some small mammal down in the grass the other day. I stopped laughing at them. Pampered predators, surely, but quite lethal. Cats, I mean, not people. (Well… yeah. People, too. We’ve a way to go before we’re really any more civilized than our less talkative cousins.) Now I watch the cats prowling their wilderness for exotic treats with greater appreciation; they just keep at it. Most days, no cats [visible to me] catch anything at all [that I see]. That doesn’t ever seem to stop them. I smile. I have time for some bass guitar practice before I head out for the day. I think I’ll do that.

Is it ever really “too late” to begin again? If we become what we practice (and experience suggests we do), isn’t the choice to practice something that makes us somehow ‘more who we are’ a good step on the journey, regardless what other direction we may head in life?

Choose. Begin again.

Choose. Begin again.