How often in the average day do you feel at home in your own life? In your own skin, even?
Once a day? Once in the morning and once at night? Once an hour? Ever?
I spent many, many years feeling like a visitor to my own life. Like, I had been handed this time. I had been given this body, this mind, this face, this awareness.
But I just couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do with it.
So I would “drop in” on my life from time to time, moving in and out of commitment, in and out of connection, in and out of alignment with my identity as “me.”
When I would do this, I would notice all over again how some of it I liked, but some of it I didn’t like, and my efforts to change what I didn’t like rarely bore fruit, and ultimately I would end up feeling, yet again, like I just wasn’t really sure I wanted to live here, in this skin, in this life, as me.
By the way, all this began really early in life for me – this feeling of groundlessness, rootlessness, the awareness of the choice to stay or go, own or abdicate ownership of the entity called “me.”
For awhile I did whatever felt most expeditious or simply safest. If I was in trouble or felt uncomfortable, I was out of there (in mental health circles I think this would be called “dissociation.”) When the coast looked clear, I might tiptoe back out of hiding…and into my life and skin again….hoping against hope as I did so that I wouldn’t be noticed.
Later, as I learned the fine art of comparison with others, I attempted to make bargains with my life and myself – if I could be nicer, thinner, smarter, more successful, well, then I’d be okay to stay, to live in this life for now and maybe even stick around for awhile.
Not surprisingly, this proved to be an equally erratic – untrustworthy – unsuccessful approach.
I went through a period of suffering. To label my feelings during this time as “righteous indignation” wouldn’t be far off the mark. I felt like the collection of traits, attributes, even body parts I’d been assigned hadn’t been assembled for optimal life experience and I wanted to know where to go to complain.
If only I had been offered a larger role in sketching out this life I was living, this person whose name and body I was occupying, well….but most days, I felt like I had just been dropped into it all, no disclaimer, no revision period, no cancellation clause.
Like, who signed me up for this, and where did they live, and how quickly could I get in to see them to air my concerns?
Today, at age 47+, it is finally dawning on me that feeling at home inside my own life really isn’t about any of these things, these concerns, these comparisons, these seeming inconsistencies.
It is about what is underneath.
In some spiritual traditions, all of the issues that have so dogged my footsteps about “me” and “my life” to date might be perceived as waves in the ocean. (Which is perfect really, since the ocean is one of my most favorite lifelong mentors!) Waves are always moving, forming, breaking up, dissolving and reappearing, moving in, pulling back, splashing, jumping about, and only very occasionally quieting into stillness.
In these same traditions, what is underneath those waves might be viewed as the ocean itself – vast, calm, deep at a depth we still don’t fully perceive, steady and still no matter what type of mischief its own waves may be kicking up, up top at the surface.
I am beginning to develop a real interest in this ocean-me, whereas for most all my life I have been consumed with the activity of waves-me. Ocean-me is a calmer, kinder, clearer and much more compassionate me to be. Not surprisingly, ocean-me’s life is both less eventful and more event-full as well.
I am starting to experience how I don’t need to – have never needed to – struggle to change the expression of waves-me in order to live within ocean-me with contentment and grace.
As well, I am realizing that ocean-me is where all the really cool insights and great ideas come from.
Unlike waves-me, which kicks up dubious suggestions involving dry topics like earning more rent money and cleaning out the pantry, ocean-me is full of awesome game-changers like “go ahead and adopt that rescued box turtle – he’s so cute and friendly!”
Once upon a time about 18 years ago, ocean-me also inspired me to take a chance and open my heart to another parrot (yup, the one with the grey and white feathers pictured here) and then, four years ago, a hatchling red footed tortoise as well.
Ocean-me is always down to have fun, doesn’t take life or herself too terribly seriously, and knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that “this too shall pass” and “have faith, everything really is all right.”
Ocean-me is actually exactly who I have always wanted to be…and – wow – am!
If you can relate to anything I’ve shared in this post, I am certain beyond a shadow of any doubt that the “you” that is resonating is your wonderful, trustworthy, loving and admirable ocean-you!
Today’s Takeaway: Have you ever looked at your life, your self, and wondered how exactly it all came together just so? Whether in frustration or wonder, disappointment or gratitude, has there ever been a moment when you perceived two levels to “you” – a waves-type level and an ocean-type level? If you’ve had this experience or something similar, has it brought you clarity or even peace? I’d love to hear your insights!
P.S. This post is from my monthly free letter, “Love & Feathers & Shells & Me.” Subscribe to read the full edition!