♫ “Tell me, who are you?” - The Who
“I am what I am.” - Popeye the Sailor Man
“The way some folks talk, you would think they gave birth to their ancestors.” - Mark Twain
I was asked an interesting question today. “Who are you?” a woman inquired. How does one respond to that? She did not ask “Who were you?” But there was a day not so long ago I probably would have answered that question with select parts of my “story” – because that is who I thought I was. Where I was born, who my parents were, what level of achievement I had attained and what obstacles I had faced - or, perhaps on a day I was feeling insecure I would have answered the question by trying to legitimize myself. I would explain why I belonged and how important it was that I was there. After all, if I didn't belong and wasn't important, what would I do? Or I might have some desires brewing and try to convince her how important my agenda was.
Or I might list my affiliations – what government or political party I identified with, what religion or lack there-of I possessed, secretly anxious of course for an opportunity to convince her of my beliefs and there-by legitimize myself. Or perhaps I would have turned the topic to my acquaintances, what I did for money, what neighborhood I lived in, who my family was, what my children were doing or any other affiliations I felt were impressive. Maybe I would have turned the topic to what material goods I possessed – casually mentioning things designed to allude to affluence. It can be any number of things for different people – physical prowess for an athlete, popularity for a politician, talent for a musician – the list goes on. But again, the question was “who are you?” Not “Who were you, what do you do, who do you know, why are you here, what do you want or where are you from.”
Actually, this is a good question to spot check where we are spiritually. Do we think we are our physical body or are identified by the family we were born into? Of course neither of these were our doing. Or, are we convinced that we are our story – a collection of semi-accurate tales of accomplishment and failure? Or how about politics or religion? If we were born in a slightly different time or place these would be wildly different. How about our desires? Are they not simply the expression of our fears? Or even our needs – is my identity really the fact that I am hungry?
When we stop identifying ourselves with form or memory, what is left? When we learn through meditation to stop thinking, who are we? When we divorce ourselves from our ceaseless desires who do we become? The answer Moses got in the Old Testament was “I am that I am” – hinting that awareness itself is what the divine identified himself as. I am not sure how to answer for myself, so I just told the lady “I take pictures.” “Oh, I see” she said, arching an eyebrow, and sashaying off across the room. Which left me wondering who she is. Maybe I should have asked her who she thought she was, and that would have given me a better idea how to respond. Nah, that could have gotten real complicated.
Today, may I be real.
To contact me, click Here. If you would like to contribute to this effort, Click Here. But whatever you do, have a
Happy Tuesday !!