“Nothing, not even your breath is your own. You do not live, but are lived by the divine being.” –Adi Da Samraj
Ok, so we play these roles. It’s usually not all that conscious although every once in a while, I’ll catch myself in the mirror while playing “teacher” and wonder, who’s that with the big teeth?
As I grow older, the distinction between various roles softens, blurs at the edges, but is still there. I wonder if growing up has to do with some roles coalescing while others just slough off, until you are truly one person, like a big old pot of beef stew. In the meantime, while learning, or rather, remembering the One, I try to fulfill each role as best I can. To live my highest truth in the moment.
Blah, blah, blah. See? I was doing it just now: the bit about “living my highest truth in the moment,” otherwise known as propaganda for the role of “being spiritual.” Hahaha!
I guess I feel the most myself when I am alone, but we can’t be alone all the time. So we venture forth to find company and lo and behold, the role-playing starts. The presence of others makes us self-reflective. Largely, what informs the emergence of different roles is one’s perception of how he or she is perceived by others. We create our roles according to what we think others expect of us, or according to how we think people see us. This perspective is mostly inaccurate.
“You were funny last night,” says a mischievous Mr. Octopus.
“Yeah. We had people over, so I put on makeup, you know, wanting to look nice–”
“And, poor thing, couldn’t stop agonizing about whether or not red lipstick was appropriate for Super Bowl Sunday!”
“I missed all the commercials, distracted as I was!”
“That’s prrrobably for the best.”
“Was it too much? The red?”
“Daaahrling, you looked fabulous.”
Discipline plays an important part in sustaining these roles, but discipline has its limits, even for ex-ballerinas. It does, however, keep us going til the end, and I am a big fan of thoroughness. But eventually we outgrow even the most well-worn and comfortable of roles. They become like memories of another life. They die, often preceded by a final burst, an expansion, like a star before getting sucked into the black hole. It can be scary, but it’s usually our minds that make it so. Scary mind, scary death. I’m convinced it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m convinced that learning to shed out-dated roles gracefully is a preparation for the ultimate letting go.
Popular culture exploits our fear of letting go. A lot of money is generated by keeping us afraid of what might happen, of what we stand to lose. What would we buy if we actually lived with the acceptance of losing everything? With the acceptance that even our heartbeat is on lease. Clearance sale! Everything must go!
It takes a lot of effort to not get too caught up, to stay present with what actually is, now. Upon reflection, in spite of my fears, most of my transitions have been graceful and this gives me hope. A friend of mine once said that depression results when we resist change. Eventually, even the most stubborn among us will get a kick in the tuckas by spirit when we’ve over-stayed our welcome. They have a way of taking things into their own hands but their ways are sometimes not so nice. You know, those big, nasty, mafioso spirits that come by and bust you in the kneecaps every so often. Make you wake up and pay up!
There really is no going back.
Mythology warns us against even looking back, but of course we do. We look back, unless you’re some kind of enlightened master jedi or something. Hopefully, we take the time to mourn our lost roles and carry them with us for a while, usually until we’ve found a new one to inhabit. It’s hard to be completely without one, at peace with the void.
Sometimes I resist letting go because I feel like I have to sustain a role for the benefit of others who need me to remain as I am, but this is perhaps grandiose thinking. Perhaps what we really need and what is best for everyone is for all of us to be what we see ourselves as being.
I’m talking about letting ourselves be gently guided by that inner voice. To become our own unique flower. To have faith in the process and courageously let go of who we were for what we’ll be. To recognize and acknowledge that the more we practice letting go, the better it gets. And even then, with all that, to remember, in the midst of our identification with what we become and become and become, that we are more than anything we can become.
“That’s quite the agenda you got going there,” says Mr. Octopus.
“Yeah, well. What the hell? Might as well go for it.”