When I was in 10th grade, I went to Leadership Camp. It was a weekend away for students in the Gifted and Talented Education program where we learned “Leadership” skills. Truthfully, it was a new age self growth workshop which I’m sure would have been shut down if the administration of our school really knew what we did there. I loved it. I learned so much about myself and shared wonderful times there with friends. There was one particular workshop we did called “Lifeboat.” My fellow Leadership Campers will remember this one well as it was one of the most difficult. In this workshop we were to imagine we were stranded on a sinking lifeboat and had to vote people out based on the answer to their questions. One or two people were left on the boat to “survive” being that they had given the best answers to the difficult questions posed to them. I remember being terrified because it was my first Leadership Camp and I was as timid as they came. One of the first questions posed was, “who are you?” Whoa, I’m in 10th grade and I’m supposed to know who I am? I didn’t have a clue and was desperately trying to figure out what to say. As they went around the circle and everyone answered, I somehow managed to get something out. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for me to get voted off the boat which was a relief to me. As hard as that experience was, it sparked something inside of me. I realized I had no idea who I was. As I grew older, the despair that this realization created inside of me became more than I could bear.
In my twenties, I searched high and low for something to hold on to about who I was. Something to ground me and let me know that there was purpose in my existence. I couldn’t find it and it was profoundly painful. I tried on as many versions of me as I could only to find that none of them held any weight or created any sense of peace within. I told myself, “well I’m a woman, a counselor, someone who is passionate about creating change in the world, etc.” It all fell flat because although it was what I was doing in the world and it was true, it wasn’t a deep down knowing about myself. I didn’t remember who I was and my separation from that truth created a lot of pain that I numbed in many different ways. I was good at becoming who others wanted me to be as well so I really had no idea who I was without all of that.
As I started immersing myself in spiritual teachings and understanding our individual relationship to the whole or source or God, I slowly began to feel the truth and to remember who I really am. As I’ve come to understand it more, I know it’s the truth for me because it was like remembering something I knew all along but had somehow forgotten. It is the who I am beneath the personality, beneath the roles I’ve created for myself, and definitely beneath the physical existence of my body. So, what is it, this truth of who I am and who we all really are?
Well, I recently heard it explained beautifully by Wayne Dyer, someone I consider a great teacher on the path, during his interview with Oprah on her Super Soul Sunday series. He used the metaphor of the ocean as God and if you take a cup of ocean water away from the ocean it is still the ocean (God). Then the water in that cup eventually changes form by evaporating into the clouds and ultimately coming back down as rain. Although it goes through these changes of form and is seemingly separate from the ocean, it eventually ends up right back where it started, at its source. This is who we are and we can return to our source and merge with it anytime we want, and when we do then we now have access to all the power of the source. The issue for us humans is that we tend to believe as we’re going through the temporal forms of our existence that we are the cup or the cloud instead of the ocean. We feel separate from our source and so we feel powerless.
We believe too greatly in our temporary experiences of ourselves. We believe in a world that we create through our focused thought backed by emotion and think that it is permanent. But, I’m pretty sure we all know by now that most everything in the physical world is not permanent. Everything is always in flux, constantly in the act of changing form, and we fight it all like crazy.
So, what this understanding did for me is helped me to remember the next time that I’ve convinced myself that I am the experience I’m having, to take some time to do whatever it is that helps me realign myself, connect, or merge with the larger truth of who I am as the ocean that is God. I can stay rooted and anchored in this knowing about myself and allow myself to move through the temporary manifestations of me and my life. The more and more that I can do this, the more I don’t get too involved or attached to what I’m experiencing and who I’m experiencing myself as in any moment. Instead, I’ll learn to stay more focused on that part of myself connected to that ocean of God and it will grow and grow until I know more completely how powerful I am.
Well, it took me about 16 or 17 years but now I have my answer for that intimidating Lifeboat question, “who are you?” I am a spark of God, a little piece of divinity, growing into knowing myself as my Source more and more every day. As I grow more and more into this knowing of myself, I am more love and I give more love and because of me the world and everyone in it is amplified in their knowing of the same truth about themselves.
Think I’d get voted off? 🙂