Looking for Dis-Identity: Who Knew?
For my generation, young adults were obsessed with searching for their identity. “Who am I, really?” “How do I discover my life’s work?” “What is my passion?” Speaking personally, I struggled with those questions for years, to the point that I identified myself as a person forever looking for identity. It took seven decades before I discovered that “my identity” was not an artifact that would be found outside of me, sort of like a grail lying in the bushes alongside a cow path. I was about to add that had I known what I know now, I could have tossed a dart, and built an identity from the path upon which it landed. However, that thought is for another post on another day.
It may be an unsatisfying identity, but I do have one. At least I have a series of habitual actions and reactions with which I respond to the impingements on my day. The predominant knee jerk responses are my thoughts. Would you believe that that exact same thoughts cross my mind when I brush my teeth? Worse, they are thoughts about events that occurred when I 14! The same damn thoughts popping up for sixty years.
So here I am working to Dis-Identify myself from my so called identity; working to unhook myself from the habitual thoughts, feelings, and actions that respond automatically. The process feels very disorienting; often I feel myself floating free, without the comfort of an anchor. There is a trade-off to the insecurity; space is opening that allows me to make real choices. I am curious to find out what those will be
Up close and personal, it’s disheartening to recognize my capacity for smug self-righteousness. In so many ways I have been bemoaning life’s ill usage of me, when the truth is I have misused my life. I have been simply awful so many times, in so many ways. When I take five giant steps back into detachment, I laugh. Viewed with detachment it very funny.
Up close and personal again, I see many gifts were given to me- that I casually wasted. But I don’t have time to squander them with regret. If use them with intent today and tomorrow and the days after that, my remaining days could be rich with satisfaction. Each hour of each day I must choose, then choose again.
This morning I was kicking real tires by lifting the hood of my car, filled with trepidation. Such a relief to find last week’s problem with the overheating engine was non-existent coolant in the radiator. Such carelessness appalls me. Fifty-five years ago, Daddy would have applied a the sharp edge of his tongue to me for such carelessness. Proper care of my aging car is a prime directive.
Onward to today’s reflection. I ran into a quotation by Florence Scoville Shinn. “Never do today what intuition tells you to put off until tomorrow.” This is an interesting answer to the domestic dilemma I created for myself. The Christmas decorations still sit in the sunporch awaiting packing and storage. It drives me crazy every morning. Yet, things always come up that keeps me from that task. Consequently, my thoughts and feelings have been cranky and filled with criticism.
Last night, I just dumped it. Nothing was getting done: anger and upset were motivating me to get job done. In an “Ah-Ha” moment, I realized that feeling happy was a choice. I could be happy as a lark whether or not I ever completed that damned decoration job.
So, I said the old lady’s version of “F— It.” Next, I made a cup of coffee and spend the rest of the evening playing Mexican Train Dominoes with friends. The decorations and boxes are still on the sun porch and I feel carefree-almost. Worries haunt me. If I am not unhappy about the unfinished task cluttering the porch, will it ever get done. If I am not unhappy about what the neighbors will think when they visit, will it ever get done? If it never gets done what will that say about me? If I am not keeping myself in line being unhappy, will my little world go to hell?
After listening to a half-hour of Neville Goddard this morning, the following recognition of years wasted by carping negativity, and self-criticism sank me deep into the bedclothes. Somehow, it is not accurate to say “negativity and self-criticism.” I actually thought that unhappiness was the best way to operate in this world. I thought if I were unhappy long enough I would earn happiness. I held a mistaken belief that happiness was earned by racking up sufficient points “doing the right thing.” Of course, the “catch-22” was I couldn’t identify “the right thing” and spent decades vacillating among this, that, and the other.
Such a relief just being happy. There are no strings attached. Happiness is a state of being, independent of circumstance, environment and well-meaning relatives who know all about the best way to live their life. Adding to the all-around fun is the discovery that I can be happy as a singing bird at the same time burning with desire for something I want.