Who do I want to be in this?

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Two Women at a Couch.

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Two Women at a Couch.

I have a new question that I have been using as a way of ‘remembering myself’.

I have been working hard for a good many years now to self-love through thick and thin, and have a pretty good relationship with myself happening as a consequence. But due to my particular form of introversion, I do find relating to others problematic. As a consequence, often the best of me gets left at home.

At 49 years of age, I still have a palm-mark permanently fixed on my forehead, from endless social situations that leave me wondering “why on EARTH did I say that?”
I find it hard to slow down and self-remember when I am out in the world. And so my resolution is to address this by asking myself the question “who do I want to be in this?”. The question re-centers me and reminds me of the qualities in myself that I most cherish.

I often think back on when my father passed away. I didn’t know how to prepare for his death. And although he was in hospital for quite a while before he died, I didn’t have the maturity and presence to gather myself into any kind of intention. And as death and illness were a clear no-go zone in most of the people I tried to speak to, I also didn’t have a role model.

Who would I want to be if I had the chance to be back there again?

There is a woman that has been in my life now for many years. I first met her as the editor of a magazine that I wrote a column for. I then got to know her a little and took some of
her sound-based meditation classes. I have also listened as she has shared her life with those of us in her circle. And she is a wonder. I’ve watched her move from a life of curiosity and seeking, to a life of radiance. Living so simply, cherishing the joy she feels in the smallest and largest of things. There is no apparent separation between creativity and work for her. She also lives openly and has shared some of the most difficult choices she has had to make with the ‘us’ of her circle. Her son just died. He hadn’t even reached adolescence. And instead of abandoning all that she has learned and moving alone into the darkness, she has begun her journey into this, taking us with her. Although she has taken a great deal of space, she has not closed the door to us or to the world. There has been no throwing away of all of the things she has learned. She has sent us notes, not to console us, and not for her consolation. She continues to hold herself with this tangible love she has. And she has just saved us all. What she is teaching us is how to hold ourselves in self love, and then to stay open. We were all prepared for her absence. None of us were prepared for her continuance. I wish I could say these things more clearly. But I know I can’t.

I can not be her. I do not want to be. I’m not prescribing any model of behavior here. I do want to live life as authentically as I can be and there is only one road for that.
Who do I want to be in this then? As a distant friend to someone that has shown me how not to be alone in pain?

Let’s see.


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