Who Are You?
Ah there you are
I can see you
Trying to hide amongst the pretence of a calm exterior
This living puppet acting out a play of a life
strings pulled this way and that
making me dizzy with your mischief
What stories have you today to torture me with?
How many stories have you been creative enough to conjure up for me this time?
Sparked by brief unfulfilled expectation
You start with the simple plausible truths, but that’s never enough
You dig deep testing my reactions until you pull the trigger
The story that brings the self-doubt, the innate daze of unworthiness
I can see your antics, but not before they have tripped me up and plunged me into a stinking pit of emotion.
I surface gasping, cursing, that you have defeated me again.
Some hours later I ponder;
Who are you?
This echo of past thoughts, images, emotions
A whirling and swirling dervish in the river of my mind
Ever pressing on the hidden thorns that are yet to be weeded out
Who are you?
Smugly taunting me when I’ve slipped off my guard
when I momentarily slip back into the mire of mind
Who are you?
If I can see you
Then you can’t be me
Just this jacket I wear
until it’s worn out
I wrote this poem some years ago. I found it there in my journal. I’d totally forgotten about it.
The journal was something that was a big part of my mindfulness practice and training. When I was studying the MSc Studies in Mindfulness, journaling was something very important. I don’t do it so much now, but then it was critical. Even on reflection I found it valuable then and even more so now as I read the entries.
Much of what I wrote just came. Just like in our practice sometimes we drop in a pebble of a question into the rested mind with awareness and curiosity of anything arising. Back then, more often than not, it was a poem rather than notes that arose of its own accord. The words felt like they came from a deeper place in my body, rather than from my mind.
The usual domino cascade of thoughts is happening as I write this blog.
I asked the question again – who am I? Who are you? Who are we?
On contemplation – I have had so many roles. I am a woman, grandmother, mother, daughter, niece, aunt and friend. I am also labelled as a communications manager and tutor. In the past I have been a business executive, cake artist, craft maker, nursery assistant and student. You could also call me a Buddhist and a meditation practitioner.
Interestingly it is the latter two roles that have provided me with the insights about the former roles.
The lockdown for the dreaded Covid 19 pandemic left me in transit – in limbo – in a space that wasn’t home – but a place where I found stillness and nature. During that time, I found myself reflecting on the ‘who am I’ question. In each and every individual moment I wasn’t particularly anyone. I’d dip in and out of grandmother and mother roles when I phoned my family. I’d dip in an out of tutor and communications manager while I was working in this strange, virtual, digital world we have found ourselves in. Sometimes I felt like I was just an energy being vaporised through the transporter on Star Trek Enterprise.
During this time, I didn’t have to travel all over the country to different places every week to play out my different roles. It was a time of being more than doing.
As I relate the now to this poem, especially through my mindfulness practice, I have more of a sense of the stream of episodes, thoughts, feelings, images, impulses, behaviours that are part of the undercurrent constantly bubbling away that we explore as part of our Mindfulness training. This undercurrent seems to have created the ‘me’ everyone knows. The me I know. Or do I?
Increasingly, as I become aware of the uncomfortable habits, triggers and behaviours, with a little practice – (sometimes a lot of practice!) I am able to accept them and live with them. And, oddly, as a result, I notice some of them are drifting away and are no longer present. No longer defining me. Which is leaving me with less of a sense of ‘me’ than ever before.
It seems like my poem, some 5 years ago, was a secret intention from the depths of my being to notice what defined me and what has shaped my life. What continues to shape my life.
This has left me with a new question. Who am I?
This week I invite you to settle into your practice. When you are rested, I invite you to drop in a question – who am I? – and, just like the ripples from a pebble dropped in a still pool, see what arises – with openness and curiosity.
I’d love to hear your comments so please do leave a comment or write to me at email@example.com.
Jacky is co-teaching on the Teacher Training Skills starting 3rd July and the Level 2 – Responding with Compassion with Heather Regan-Addis starting 31st July.
We’d love to see you there.
You can also join her or other Mindfulness Association tutors on the free daily practice sessions at 10:30am and 7pm.
Jacky has contributed a chapter to the Mindful Heroes Book entitled “Turning Empathic Distress into Compassion – A Hero’s Journey for Family Carers”. You can hear an extract from the chapter where she talks about the results of her MSc Studies in Mindfulness on Compassion & Family Carers. You can download a free sample of Jacky’s chapter here.