Many years ago-sounds a bit like the beginning of a fairy tale-the foundation of who I was, or thought I was, crumbled. I grabbled with the question, “Who am I?” I felt the enormity of the question, as well as, my terror of not knowing the answer or, worse yet, how to find the answer. My illusions had died and I didn’t have a replacement reality. I felt like a blank slate.
Because I am a visual person (that much I did know about myself) I envisioned my blank slate status as a big, yellow legal pad. With that image in mind, I drove to Staples, found a tablet and bought it. My plan was to notice myself and document who I met. I remember feeling a bit overwhelmed by the project and a lot scared at the blankness of the tablet before me. I also remember some excitement at the prospect of defining myself rather than being defined by others.
So, I took my pad with me where ever I went.
One morning, on my way to work, I noticed a vehicle pulled over on the side of the road. As I got closer I recognized the stopped SUV to be that of a neighbor, Susan. Susan and I had tried being friends when she first moved in, but rather quickly discovered we didn’t care for each other all that much. We ended our short friendship with some hurt feelings and on going distance.
All this registered in my mind in a flash, as did my awareness that I was pulling my car off the road to see of she needed help. It wasn’t a conscious decision to pull over, it was an automatic response. I got out of my car.
Susan’s young daughter Alice was with her. They were on their way to take Alice to preschool. Susan wasn’t sure what was wrong with her car, but her husband was on his way. Without thinking, again, I offered to take Alice to preschool. Susan and Alice agreed. So we loaded Alice, and her toddler seat, into the back seat of my car, strapped her in and headed to preschool.
After delivering Alice I got back into my car and saw the big, blank, yellow, legal pad sitting next to me on the passengers seat. I picked it up and wrote, “I am nice.”
I remember that like it was yesterday. I still feel the truth of that statement. It is true because I noticed it in me. I made it mine. I decided it is true. And so it is.
I would love to continue this tale by telling you all the lovely qualities I discovered about “who I am” and wrote on my bright yellow pad. Unfortunately, that is not how this story ends. I also noticed, “I am mean.”
“I am scared.”
“I am smart.”
“I am not so smart”
‘I am lazy.”
“I am brave.”
“I am insensitive.”
“I am generous.”
The list goes on. I am all of these things. Some I value more than others. Some I hide more than others. Some I want you to know about me and some I would be mortified if you knew. That is who I am too.
So I am living happily ever after, except for those days I am not.