Monday, January 25, 2010
Stranger than Fiction
A friend and I, distorted and reflected in the Anish Kapoor sculpture at the Sackler
"Just be yourself!"
Have you ever received that advice? I have, many times, mostly in the form of friendly encouragement before I had to go into any social situation. I am an Extreme Introvert which accounts for why I've needed, throughout my whole life so far, this kind of Extreme Encouragement.
I think what the people meant, the ones who told me to just be myself, was to relax and have fun at parties and in other kinds of gatherings. To "be myself" in a group - at least so far in this lifetime - is to glue myself to a wall, sweat, blink and in general freeze up or shut down. I'm sure that's not what my friends and family were suggesting! What they really meant, I believe, was, "Just DON'T be yourself!" They meant it in the most loving way.
Lately I and a bunch of other bloggers have been writing about identity. The question of who we are, fictional or "real," now or in the past, is in the air at the moment. It's a pretty fascinating wavelength. Are you thinking about it?
Rosaria is writing a blog of memoirs in addition to her great blog Sixty Five, What Now? Her most recent post, a reflection on the process of writing a memoir is perfectly named: Is it real or is it created? She makes so many good points in the post. Wow. It's true that all history is a creation of the historians who imagine it. So all memoirs are also creations rather than cold, hard fact.
Who knows who I was in the past? But - even in this present moment, who am I? Dan of the blog A Mindful Heart says, My very wise friend Walter would say that what you think is your "real" self is actually a fictional character. Oh yeah. My identity (yours, too!) is a moving, shape-shifting mass of ephemera. It's no wonder the "I" part of me gets so restless and moody sometimes.
Dancing in shamanic alignment with "reality" involves being willing to change moment to moment. C.M. Jackson of the blog States of Mine, wrote this morning about the need to embrace change. I'm beginning to get it - resistance to change is futile, unnatural. The Sufi acupuncturist tells me that, in Chinese medicine, change is so intrinsic that if things don't move, disease will result. I think, too, of a great physiology teacher who used to say, "It's OK to slouch - just don't slouch ALL THE TIME."
Below is an aphorism C.M. Jackson posted today, the perfect words to sum up what several of us have been thinking about. Thanks, C.M! Thanks, Ms. Buck!
If you have been sitting, stand.
If you have been standing, sit.
If you have been traveling, stay home.
If you have been home, travel.
If you have been teaching, learn.
If you have been learning, teach.
If you have been talking, listen.
If you have been listening, talk.
This is my friend's pic of that same moment. Similar, but definitely different.