When someone asks you, “Who are you,” what do you say?
Now, think about it. Don’t just blurt out the first answer you think of. Do you declare an occupation or accomplishments? Are you someone’s spouse, someone’s sibling, someone’s son or daughter? Can we be defined by who our parents are or that we are parents? Can we be defined at all? Should we define and categorize ourselves into tiny little boxes that make the rest of the world feel better? Or, does it make us feel better?
When someone asked me that question I would blurt out the usual, “I am Jimmy and Lily’s mommy, Eileen and Gary’s daughter, Jim’s wife” or “I’m a writer,” or “I’m a homemaker.” After I would say it, I would feel like I was forgetting something. I remember that one time I froze at the utter shock in how I saw myself. My response didn’t answer the question. I was defining myself as an extension of other people’s lives or by what I liked to do. But who was I? Who is Lacie? Shouldn’t that be one of the easiest questions you can answer in life?
Now granted, being an extension of the lives of those mentioned above is an honor. I’m so grateful for having them in my life and for them allowing me to be part of theirs. Something deep inside me though said, “I need to find me.”
To be completely honest with you, I couldn’t answer that question right at that moment when I froze. Who is Lacie? At least not how I wanted to answer it. I have been in survival mode for the last five years as my son is fighting a brain tumor. My son’s battle is mine as well. In between extremely stressful situations and hard decisions my goal and focus is to have my son heal and to make his life as normal and fun as possible. That’s exactly what I do everyday. I treat him like he is as healthy as any other kid. Last year around the time I asked myself who I was, Jimmy went off chemotherapy for the first time. Jimmy has been off all meds and treatment since. When my life came back into focus and out of survival mode, I found myself feeling around in the dark. I will admit I lost myself along the way or I grew into someone else and I wanted to know who that was. I knew that when I found the answer to that question I wouldn’t feel lost anymore.
My next question was “Where do I start looking for me?”
I read this quote soon after that read, “Look for the answer inside your question.” ~Rumi
I didn’t get it at first. So like most of us, I looked to the world for answers. I looked to the past in memories and lessons I’ve learned. That told me a lot about who I was then, but not who I am now. I looked for myself in other people that I loved, my family and friends. What I found there were reflections of myself. I saw in them what I wanted to see. They didn’t have my answer either.
I figured maybe a perfect stranger can tell me who I am. I dove into books, anything that would give me insight into who I was. Books of motivation, business, skills, how-to’s, everything and anything you could think of. Someone had to know who I was, right?
There is something about words and writing for me. When I read a quote, a really good one, that describes exactly how I am feeling in a moment, I get chills and goosebumps. Sometimes it feels like the author or content is giving me a clue. I also feel different when I write, like I’m getting a little closer to my answer. So I write a lot after I read about those moments. I was getting closer, but my question was still unanswered.
One day I had a memory about a book I read years ago before my son was even born. In that moment I realized I had always been searching for the answer. I just didn’t realize it. My beloved Aunt suggested a book called “Your Life, Why it is the way it is and what you can do about it,” by Bruce McArthur. Fitting right? It’s a book about universal laws written by an engineer. He wondered why only the physical world was governed by laws, like the law of gravity for example. Why not the spiritual and mental worlds too? I recommend this book to anyone searching for some understanding of why things happen the way they do in our lives. It’s not for everyone though. Some concepts inside the book are for the non-traditional thinkers. Unless you’re open to the world and all it’s wonder and not contained by what the world tells you to think, then it may help you. Three-s a story inside the book that gave me some clarity on where to start looking to find some answers.
“According to an old Hindu legend there was a time when all men were gods. They so abused their divinity that Brahma, the chief god, decided to take it away from men and hide it where they would never find it again. Where to hide it became the big question.
When the lesser gods were called in council to consider this question they said, “We will bury man’s divinity deep in the earth.” But Brahma said, “No, that will not do, for man will dig deep down into the earth and find it.”
Then they said, “”Well, we will sink his divinity into the deepest ocean.” But again Brahma replied, “No, not there, for man will learn to dive into the deepest waters, will search out the ocean bed, and will find it.”
Then the lesser gods said, “We will take it to the top of the highest mountain and there hide it.” But again Brahma replied, “No, for man will eventually climb every high mountain on earth. He will be sure some day to find it and take it up again for himself.”
Then the lesser gods gave up and concluded, “We do not know where to hide it, for it seems there is no place on earth or in the sea that man will not eventually reach.”
Then Brahma said, “Here is what we will do with the man’s divinity. We will hide it deep down in man himself, for he will never think to look for it there.” Ever since then, the legend concludes, man has been digging, diving, exploring, searching for something that is already within himself.
Two thousand years ago a man named Jesus found it and shared it’s secret; but in the movement that sprang up in HIS name, the divinity in man has been the best kept secret of the ages.”
After I read it I knew where I had to start looking for the answer. Any guesses? My next question was how do you look inside yourself?
Even though these are simple questions, the answers are not so simple. We grow and change everyday as much or as little as we want. Can you define an object in motion that is constantly transforming into something new? Sir Issac Newton called it kinetic energy and was on the right track with the laws of motion. It explains why people who are not asking questions or looking for answers are hypothetically standing still. The law of motion only applies to things that are moving. When you ask yourself, “Who am I”, the energy you’re made-up of starts looking or moving towards an answer. We as humans are made up of energy, aren’t we? As we adapt and change, our questions change and so do our answers. If you feel like your “standing still,” maybe it’s time to start asking some questions and actually searching for the answers.
I find myself a lot in my writing and when I actually take the time to answer the questions I ask myself, the answers are always changing. Like when you read a book for the second time and it’s different from the first time you read it. You see it differently or maybe notice something you didn’t notice before. The book didn’t change, you did.
The answers to our questions may come in pieces or parts over time. There is no “holy grail” answer sitting in a tomb somewhere but thanks to Indian Jones for that idea! I wish there were because it would definitely be easier!
There are so many questions we must ask throughout the journey of our lives in order to uncover answers that allow us to keep moving forward. Try not to just “stand still.”
“Know thy self” has taken on an entirely new meaning for me. I guess I’ll be working on finding my answers throughout the rest of my life. I look forward to the journey.
So the question is, “Who are you?”
At least you know where to start looking.