The problem is not the identity that we think we are. The problem is our attachment to the identity to which we think we are, and our inability to let go of that function of which we perceive is of the identity that we think we are, in order to take on another role to follow up with a story which was coming our way.
It is all acting, all part of a storyline if you will. All part of a love story that unravels. If you find that you are feeling stressed up, unhappy, angry or upset, then you will know that there is something that you are not letting go of, and that something that you are not letting go of, is that very identity that you thought was you, and still you.
A loved one came over some nights ago and told me that she was feeling stressed up about a situation at home. She plays a function in interior designing for her business hence has easily identified herself as an interior designer. That day, her father in law was moving in his favourite furniture into her home as he was about to move in upon her husband’s and her request. You see, they (as in the loved one and her husband) adore her father in law. So why was she feeling stressed up? Well, apparently, her father in law has his own knick in home decorations. While this loved one’s style is more of one that is of simplicity, her father in law’s is a total opposite who prefers a majestic, emperor feel – one likes plain and simple, and the other is smitten by historic paintings of angels and clouds on ceilings. You get the drift right?
Obviously, it was a challenge to her perception of how a home should be since she has a trained perception in interior decoration.
I asked her, if she really wanted to know the truth. And she said yes. So I brought her to see how she was hanging on to an identity of an interior designer when she gets home thus feeling unhappy and frustrated that the home is not the way that an interior designer would prefer it to be. I asked her, if she came home without the identity of an interior designer, who would she be when she got home? Her eyes lit up so brightly and said, “I’d be a daughter in law and I wouldn’t care less where or how the furniture were positioned! As long as my family is happy!”
And that is precisely it! The moment she leaves the office, the role play of an interior designer drops. And then she hops into her car, she no longer holds on to the identity of an interior designer, or a daughter in law yet. She is a driver. And until she parks her car and gets into her home, she plays the role of a daughter in law, that is too, if she meets her father in law; otherwise she is whoever she is, doing whatever she does. So if she walks into the kitchen and cooks, she plays the role of a chef. The role play changes all the time, from moment to moment. It comes and it passes. But the moment we start hanging on to a role to which we think we are, we suffer when we are not aligned with what is truly in our space.
The best part is this – the identity of an interior designer, a driver, a daughter in law, a wife, a mother, a chef – all are merely roles which we temporarily take on from moment to moment, as in a flow with nature; yet, none of them defines us. It is all an act. An act of love – an experience of love through whatever roles we take on for that moment. But, what happens usually is that we forget to let go of that role because the society has conveniently labelled and defined people who do or perform certain functions as certain somebodies, or professionals, and later put them into categories of blue collar, white collar, professionals or what have you. It is no wonder that we easily identify ourselves with these roles and hence carry these roles along with us wherever we go; unable to totally be present to what is around us. The pressure becomes immense because we start to feel that our ideas are being challenged all the time or when we are unable to sync into a conversation. Imagine a father boss bringing ‘work’ to the dining table. Instead of connecting to the rest of the family as a father, the father talks about work as an employer and probably only directs his attention or conversation to the son who works in the family business. He could totally oblivious if the other children who are not part of the family business have anything to share about their days or, it is even possible that he may not even have noticed if they (the other children) are actually dining together at the table. And then after a while, the father questions how come his other children do not spend time with him. Does this not happen in most households? Children shun away from father, father unable to communicate and connect with his children? Not that there are rules about being a father or a child or anyone, but what I am pointing out is this… the attachment to what we think we are and the prolonged moments of it which eventually leads to a huge misunderstanding, thus our sufferings.
Of course, this is also not to say that we hide behind a mask and play a role defined by society but there is a true innate nature that resides within us and the role that we take on permeates different facades of love to be experienced. For example, if I am a mother, the way I play my role will be to play with my little one, read with her, put her to sleep and etc; if I am a friend, the way I’d express my love would be by listening to her, sharing with her, going shopping with her. It is not the act that counts. It is the presence – the presence of love that is being felt here although it seems like it is an act, as in an action that needs to be performed in order to express it.
So they are just role plays, all just an act in a dream. Nothing to be taken too seriously; as none of them defines us – who we rightfully and truthfully are. Let the function be performed with love, and then let go of it and flow with the next. That is the beauty of every moment. Nothing real can be threatened.