I finished Stephen King’s 11/22/63 at 11:34 last night. It was so good; a really great read. Even though the romantic in me would have loved a “happily ever after” ending, the way in which it ended was more realistic, with a broad spectrum, for-the-greater-good quality to it. In addition, Mr. King’s Afterword was compelling and thought-provoking.
After closing the Kindle app and plugging my Tab in to recharge overnight, thoughts were racing through my head. Some of those thoughts were in regards to the book, at first, but then they switched to a different, albeit related, track.
Like many people, I suppose, I relate(d) who I am to what I do (did) career-wise. In my preteens and teens, I was a student, a writer, an artist (pencil sketch), a babysitter, an ice cream server, and a waitress. Then I became a short-order cook, which morphed into a cafe manager, then a customer service/sales representative and unofficial manager of a video store. Next I was a receptionist/intake interviewer and actress. In the blink of an eye, it seemed, I became an office manager, was still an actress, and added seamstress to my “I am” list.
|The Baker, 1998; Cogsworth, 2009; Emma Carew, 2004; Lucy Harris, 2004|
Over the course of 15 years, with writer, office manager, actress, and seamstress as through lines, I also became a playwright (first produced in 2000, I think), a fine artist (oil, acrylic, watercolor, pastels), and an acting teacher. For a while I was unemployed, then I was an administrative assistant/light bookkeeper, then an office manager again, and a Reiki practitioner, then a Reiki Master, then a Reiki Master Teacher, and a Lightworker (this last “I am” having been assigned in great part by others, based on my – er – esoteric abilities as well as my own cultivated beliefs and world view), and an author’s assistant.
Setting aside the career aspect, the “I am” list gets a whole lot more personal; some read like mantras or at least positive affirmations, while others live in the shadow.
Everyday, I am…
- …kind to myself and others
- …blooming where I’m planted
- …embracing life
- …open to the abundance of the Universe
- …healing myself, others, and Earth
Sometimes, like it or not, I am…
- …unkind to myself and others
- …restless and seeking
- …hiding from life
- …needy; mired in lack
- …anxious and stressed
I don’t associate who I am with my career anymore, except for the Reiki Master Teacher part because it’s much more a way of life than a career path. I associate who I am with the two lists you see above, and with the former more than the latter. I readily admit that it used to be the opposite, but I’ve changed, and I make choices every day to be the former list, first and foremost.
One of my favorite writings is by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, and is entitled The Invitation. This gorgeous essay sums up how I feel about our collective “I am,” most of the time:
“It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon…
I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow,
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals,
or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain – mine or your own –
without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy – mine or your own –
if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us
to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day.
And if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure – yours and mine –
and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the moon,
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair,
weary and bruised to the bone,
and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me
and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.”
These days, when someone asks me what I “do,” I find myself pausing and considering the person asking the question. I think, “What is the context of the question?” and “How deep can I dig for my answer without making them uncomfortable?” Sometimes, to buy myself some time, I smile and say, “That’s a loaded question.”
What is your primary (non-career) “I am”?