My fingers swell up like crazy when I’m hiking in the heat. They look like Michelin Man fingers.
This weekend’s hike with Keijiro was no exception and, as I always do, I took the ring off not long into our walk. If I don’t, it gets uncomfortable and eventually just gets stuck.
This morning, as I left the apartment, my thumb reached instinctively to the finger I normally wear my ring on. But instead of the familiar metal, all I felt was skin. I’d left the ring in my backpack.
Not wanting to go back, I continued to the coffee shop, thinking through how quickly we become attached to things, people, situations and beliefs and the discomfort that arises when those things disappear from our lives.
As I walked to the coffee shop, I realised that today is the second to last Monday I’ll walk this path on this trip. I leave in just over a week. In the 4 weeks I’ve been here I’ve already settled into a routine that suits me. I have my coffee shop. I have my favourite spot in the coffee shop. The people know me now. They smile and look genuinely pleased to see me. I’m pleased to see them too.
But in just over a week all that will change again. I’ll have to let it go. Adjust to something new.
And then my thoughts turned back to 30 minutes earlier when I’d been standing in front of the bathroom mirror. I was looking at the spots on my face. Spots that felt unfamiliar. Alien. And I was feeling annoyed at those spots.
Six months ago I stopped taking the pill. For one reason or another, I’d been taking the pill since I was about 15 years old. And I’d always had beautiful, clear skin. That’s who I was. It was part of my identity. Leah was the person who had the best skin. As it turns out, it was probably just the pill keeping my skin so good.
The thought I’m attempting to explore with you today is this:
You’re more than the things you attach to and identify yourself with.
Who you are is not the face you see in the mirror.
Who you are is not the ring on your finger.
Who you are is not the environment you find yourself in or the relationships you have.
When all of those things disappear or change (and they will, because that’s the nature of life) it’s sometimes very difficult to cope with that loss or change. The identification and attachment with those things was strong. Very, very strong sometimes.
In these moment of loss or change or disruption, it can be comforting and helpful to remind yourself that who you are – that is to say, your spirit, your soul and all that’s beyond the physical and material and external – is not any of those things. It’s something more. Something bigger.
The societies many of us live in cause us to strive for certain ideals. Ideals like:
Having a certain amount of money.
Having a stable job.
Owning material things like a house and a car.
Marriage and children.
Looking a certain way.
And sometimes it becomes difficult to see yourself beyond those things. And if your own life doesn’t seem to be matching up to those things, maybe you start to feel less than. Like you’re somehow failing at life.
So today I just want to remind you that you’re more than all of this. You’re more than your body and your possessions and your career and your relationships. For everyone, those things will come, go and change over time.
And it’s ok to mourn the loss or the change. Of course it’s ok.
But remember, too, that who you truly are is something beyond all of that. And that whatever changes or disappears in your life, who you are is something you take with you.
Love and courage,