A few months ago, I went to a singles event. The leader of the event introduced an exercise called the “I am.” Basically, you have a minute and a half with someone, and they ask you repeatedly, “Who are you?” and you reply, “I am [fill in the blank].” You do this over and over for the full minute and a half and then you switch.
I have done this kind of exercise before and am very comfortable with who I am, so I rattled off mystic, shaman, poet, writer, daughter, mother, friend, ex-wife, entrepreneur, gypsy and so on for the time allotted. The partner I had for the exercise did the same but after a few words seemed to struggle, perhaps not wanting to be too vulnerable, I am not sure.
A few weeks later, I was listening to a shaman course that I was taking to deepen my practices and this topic of “I am” came up.
The shaman’s lesson was all about how we sometimes fix our “I am” identity so much that we don’t allow for growth or change. The shaman advised that we should consider always allowing ourselves to also be the divine mystery.
Ever since that lesson, I have been noticing the situations (and there are many now that I am paying attention) when I am asked to define myself through a statement like “I am”. Those words while perhaps providing context for whoever is hearing them to know how they can relate to me also define me in a way that can perhaps be limiting.
I think back to that exercise and the words I stated, and I know without a doubt that I am way more than just those words. I also recognize within me a resistance to being defined at all, a desire to allow for the mystery of who I am becoming.
As I meet people, make new friends, meet new colleagues I find myself in this phase of allowing myself to be known and yet resisting the definition at the same time.
I find myself noticing just how those I meet take in the words that get used to define me, how those words land on their ears proceed through their mental filtering system which applies previous knowledge or experience as well as programs that have been worn in over time that informs that person just what that word means to them about who I am.
This too creates a resistance in me, while I certainly don’t want to be boxed in by my own sense of myself, I resist having it done to me by others as well.
If I look at you and I process your very existence only by a set of terms like daughter or son or friend or colleague, I may actually be missing the most precious gift that lives within each of us and that truly is our own mystery. That mystical place in all of us is who we are yet to be, who we are discovering ourselves to be, who we are growing into.
I want to allow for this mystery in myself and in everyone I meet.
While some labels as I hold them in my body, they feel true, aligned, and appropriate, I am okay with owning these as labels to describe me, my resistance is that these are not all of who I am.
Some labels however, I resist, they feel like being placed into a box that seems to be too narrow, too tight while perhaps generally the truth is that it just isn’t a fit. I want to resist that feeling for those I meet as well. I want to allow for their own mystery to present itself. I want to allow for my own mystery, for who I will be tomorrow.
I look back at who I was in January doing that “I am” exercise and that version of me is different from the version of me who is typing these words now. The growth, the challenges of just these last months has changed me, deepened my understanding of myself and my connection with others. I am now what was just a mystery in January.
Who will I be tomorrow, next year, in a decade is all in the beauty of that mystery?
The only thing I can tell you is this, I am committed to uncovering that mystery each day and questioning how I define myself while along the way ensuring that my own definition allows for my own evolution as well as those I meet.
Questions to stay curious:
- Who will you be tomorrow?
- Are you allowing your own mystery to uncover itself to you?
- Are you looking for your own mystery?
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