Monday, May 14, 2012

Who We Really Are

My dear friend was telling me how she sees her life right now as a molten glass glob in its inception, on the end of the glass blower's blowpipe. She likes the molten shape just as it is and is paying special attention to make sure that the shape does not change into the glass blower's vision, but instead remains unrefined and true, even if it means it needs to stay shapeless at this time. She said to me, "You know how one twist or turn of the glob and it starts to get a handle or something? Well, I don't want the handle, or any given shape, just yet. I am content with remaining unformed at this time."

I knew exactly what she meant. It wasn't that her life wasn't taking a new form, she had been through some major changes, but she wasn't going to let it be hastily shaped this time without some strong input. We talked about how, sure, the shape could become just beautiful under the skill of the glass blower's hands, a pitcher with an elegant lip to pour from, a goblet with a sturdy stem to hold, but that would be created because it is what the glass blower wanted the glob to be.

We both agreed that we, as many do, have allowed this to happen too often in our lives. We have allowed ourselves to be molded into what pleased another, giving away our own creative power to another to form their vision of us, instead of being true to our own vision.

Sometimes staying true to ourselves might mean remaining  unformed for a while. It's not that we are actually any less than who we need to be in this state, it is just that we are taking the time to develop and emerge purposely as opposed to unconsciously conforming to a shape that might be of some convenient use to another.

 It's harder this way sometimes because it means slowing down in a really fast paced world. It means saying no which displeases people. It means discovering a whole bunch of things you don't like before you can even begin to embrace the things you do, which can feel discouraging at first. And then, if you are judging your life by someone else's timeline, you can feel as if you missed the boat completely, even though that boat was a potential sinking ship you probably successfully dodged.

This reminds me of a talk by John Daido Loori, Roshi, the late Zen Buddhist monk I often listen to entitled, "Who We Really Are and What We Appear To Be." He says, "If what our reality is, is not the same as what our appearance is, we are not yet practicing [our faith]. Who we really are and what we appear to be should be the same, if not, it's diluted, it's a mask, it's where we hide." He goes on to say that we do this because we are convinced we are inadequate so we buy into what others  think we should be. He says the enlightened life is, "really being yourself."

I admire my friend as she makes her way, willing to discover new things about herself, refusing to conform to please others, really being herself. I am also rediscovering my form and learning that the form I will take next needs to reflect my heart. That is my wish for her, for me, and for all those I love, that our lives will take the form of our own hearts.