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I Am Myself

I have a simple mantra. I am myself. I use it to stay centered in times of distress. What’s unusual is not the words, but their meaning. In particular, the idea of selfness.

The word myself carries a lot of power for me. I see it as a stand-in for consciousness, and it evokes a feeling that is timeless and universal. Myself is here, now. But it is also much larger than here, now. Myself is not just me, as I exist in space. Myself is me, as I exist in time. Myself in space is fleeting and iterative. Myself in time is timeless.

That’s the fascinating paradox. It is through my finite self that I know or grok my infinite self. And through my infinite self that I know or grok my finite self. What do I mean by “finite self”? Myself as I exist within time. My body. And by “infinite self” I mean myself as I exist outside time. My soul.

I do better—feel better, perform better—when it is my infinite self driving the boat. She has wider perspective, and a better sense of humor. “Did that bird just fly away?” she asks. “Give it a minute. Another bird will come.” It is she who I am conjuring when I say I am myself. It is she who talks me out of despair when some small thing—what feels like the world—seems crushing. “That feels like the world,” she’ll say, feeding me ice cream. “But that wasn’t the world. There will be a whole new world tomorrow.”

And I believe her. There will be a whole new world tomorrow. Let us greet it with hearts that are open, joyful, and supple. Like children’s. The world will return to us, in kind, what is inside the hearts we greet it with.

But how can we be joyful, having seen all we have seen? We have lost the blindness and the innocence of children.

We have lost the innocence, but not the joy. Ours is a seeing joy, which is richer, deeper, stronger. Happiness is flat, and is the absence of pain. Joy has known pain, and sings anyway.

Our joy can never be taken from us, because joy and love, at base, are who we are. And who we are is eternal. I am myself. Joy. Love. Light. Power. Strength. Connectedness. Consciousness. We.

Walt Whitman at about fifty. Image: Wikipedia