I want to speak about…
The Space Between The Shapes We Inhabit.
This place where freedom exists. It’s in the little “mind the gap” between reaction and response.
It’s a click of the fingers. A blast of cool air. A pinprick. A tiny moment in time.
If we are placing our worth and value upon something outside of us, then we are basically handing over our power on a silver platter. One might as well serve fine silken napkins to fold over one’s top button and condiments in ramekins to sweeten the taste of the bitter and sour.
Know your worth they say.
Value yourself they say.
But how can we know our worth it if it’s been gobbled down in the big belly of another, or of something, an object, a role, and identity?
How can we value ourselves if what is left is a void, an empty doughnut or bagel hole with just the space of hunger left longing lamely?
I’ve done this many times in my life. God, I know that feeling of pinning who I am on some story! That’s fine of course, as long as I know that I’m doing it. Awareness is king. Hindsight, hmmm, well that’s like a back kick to the shin after the fact!
So, if we recognise this as a theme then what does it mean? Let’s go deeper. If we give any aspect of ourselves to someone or something outside of us, then what we are doing ultimately is abandoning ourselves. We are giving ourselves away. This leaves us empty, afraid, panicking, and grasping onto something, hell, anything, to give is a sense of solidity, a sense of self.
This ain’t no way for anyone to trip this lifetime fantastic!
Well, if we don’t want to do this anymore then we need to get wise. First step is to notice this happening. It’s interesting that so many of the things we give ourselves away to are the exact things that give us a sense of who we are: the parent, the lover, the teacher, the artist, the activist, the workshop addict, the interesting one, the (insert any identity here)!
The secret here is to shine that mirror right back at you and ask with deep genuine care and curiosity: “What is the reflection that I see in this other that I am not claiming as already a part of who I am?”
Read that again.
You see, we have within us a thousand different archetypes. Every aspect of human nature. Every identity. Everything that we seek. As Rumi said: what we seek is seeking us.
What does this identity give? Well, you might have guessed correctly when I say that this gives us our worth and value.
We all know or have heard about those people who have retired, or whose children have fled the nest, or they’ve stepped out of a familiar and comfortable role whether by their own hand or by circumstances and have found themselves lost.
We don’t like lost. It feels aimless. Dizzying around ourselves with nothing solid to hold close to and merge with.
When we are lost, they say that we are found, but what does that mean?
The only way to find ourselves is to lose all of the adornments that we have decorated ourselves with. To be bare. Exposed. With no-thing to hide behind. The mask dissolved and just the vulnerability of being an ordinary human being, floundering in the waves for a while, not necessarily looking our best, hair tangled, feet no longer on the secure and safe ground that we had placed them upon, like a Sims character in its Sim-less world remaining.
To be stripped of all the labels. To be nameless. Faceless. Anonymous in the grand hall of fame, and oh boy, aren’t we surely living in a mirrored hall of social media fame!?
When we are nothing, we are free. When we can put down this identity and that one, then we are free. When we can bear the pain of not being extra-ordinary, then we are free. When we can resist the temptation to post to get likes to fill up our paper cup begging bowl, then we are free. When we can be the one who does not know, then we are free. When we do not mind nor care what they say about us, then we are free.
Don’t get me wrong, I ain’t there yet! Hell no. But I can see where this plays out, where I struggle to let the baton of an identity go because it leaves me raw and awkward and feeling vulnerable and not sure.
I can spin in place like the Sufi dancers and find God this way. You see, without the attachment to these identities, then something shifts in us. We orient ourselves to something else, something that has always been in our orbit; it’s just that perhaps no one showed it to us. We begin to orient to the magnetic compass of our true North, pulling us with an urgency into alignment. Into here and now. Into deep presence. Into knowing. Into trust. Into living in the spaces between things, the gap between identities, people, things, merits, and so on. If we lean in close enough, we may fall in, tumbling in the playground where our only need is to respond to life itself.
How might it be if in each and every moment we responded to what is. When we are teaching, then we will be the teacher. When we are parenting, then we will be the parent. When we are making love, then we will be the lover. And when we are lying on the couch eating crisps and watching more Netflix, then we will be the one who relaxes into that space for now. It’s just one incarnation. One moment. One choice of shape. As long as we remember this, then we don’t get our skirts stuck in the conveyor belt, wondering how and why life feels so small.
Our identity shapeshifts. We, in fact, are the ones who possess this ability to shapeshift, to not be defined by something so impermanent as a permanent markered title. When we can see the illusion of this then we can start to play. To play with it all. To play with shifting from one state to another, from one identity to another, and yet, none of these stick. None of these define us. For we are everything, and nothing, all at once.
Everything and nothing. All at once. Hmmmm, that would make a good movie title, hey?!
Don’t get stuck on one thing when you contain multitudes of worlds within you.
Don’t be scared when one of these falls away leaving your bones bleaching in the sun.
Don’t be chasing waterfalls, or another thing, or person to suction your tentacles to; best to leave them free to explore.
Instead, freefall into the space between worlds and let life catch you from time to time.
Open your arms wide and wider still.
Is it terrifying? I think so! Is it edgy? Hell yes! Is it worth it? Well, you’ll just have to try it and see.
Welcome to the freedom lands baby!