We spend our lives seeking knowledge about all manner of things but according to philosophers old and new, the fundamental question that remains unasked till late in our lives or in some cases, not at all, is the one that holds the key to our very existence: ‘Who am I?’
Earlier this morning, I was listening to a recording with Eckhart Tolle where he speaks about taking the first steps towards finding our identity. What he explained was a very clear answer to a confused question that had been floating around in my head for the last week or so.
Those of you who have been at the receiving end of my writing know that there has a been a series of shifts in my life over the last couple of years. In the remnants of my old life, I’ve often found myself with empty pockets of time. In my wiser moments, I appreciate their presence and am grateful for the space they are carving out within me. In my more human moments, I either rush to fill them so that they become less apparent or get sucked into the old stories in my head. I’ll save you the list, we all have our own to contend with, but I will share my final and most primal one with you. I am alone. I have been serenaded with this one almost all my life. I know where it comes from and I can now see it for what it is rather than what I, very understandably made it mean as an eleven year old.
As a child, identified strongly with the world outside, I am alone, is not a space that is comfortable or even safe to be in. We need to be seen with external eyes. Validated and accepted. Today, as I learn to sit with this fear, I begin to see what I could not before. I begin to catch a glimpse of something beyond my experiences and beliefs. I begin to behold Another, past the roles I have played in my life: daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend. I begin to realise that what I have created is not mine but an ever changing story of which I am an ever changing part. I begin to comprehend that what I have been doing is not who I am. And in allowing all that is outside of me to fall away, I am left only with what’s inside.
‘When you realise who you are not, then suddenly who you are becomes revealed to you.’ –Tolle
The silent space of I am alone holds the secret of I AM, a truth that we embody with each breath we take.