I Am

September, 2010

Who am I? I know now, more than ever before, who it is that resides deep within me and that it is not the personality built by my life experiences over these almost 70 years. It is more likely that cherubic infant whose photo graced the bureau of my bachelor apartment almost 20 years ago. Those were powerful days. I was initiating a divorce from my wife of 26 years and someone suggested that I keep a baby picture of myself in a place where I would see it often. This little angel had a real smile that shone from his soul. To paraphrase Frederick Beuechner who said so beautifully in his book “Telling Secrets” the world had yet to have its way with him.

Over the days and decades as this little one grew and learned of the dangers both real and imagined that inhabited his world he began to hide that open smile and put forth a personality. It seems now that a purpose of that personality was to hide his shame and win the applause of others. Early on he began to feel unworthy and unlovable. So he developed tools to keep these feelings and thoughts deep within himself while projecting an image in opposition to them. He continued to build and burnish this image which he ultimately came to believe was the authentic him.

A number of years ago I came across the Hindi expression “neti-neti” which I was told meant “not this, not that” and was useful in the Hindu world in helping to understand the nature of love or god or other unexplainable concepts. I find that I am one of these unexplainable concepts and that “neti-neti” helps me when I use it in times of unrest. I might be in a fury over some perceived wrong. More and more now I’ll ask myself what was that or more to the point who was that? Was that me or was it a part of that personality which I use as a mask? My answer can be “not me, not me”.

I continue to experience feelings of fear based rage today but I almost never act on them.  There is developing within me a feeling that brings me back toward that little guy with the beautiful smile. The truth that I am, at my core, a kind, gentle and loving man who is less and less afraid of that truth.

Posted September 30, 2010

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