Who Am I?

I have recently been feeling a renewed sense of peace.  There has been an acceptance of my injury as well as an understanding of what it takes to be at peace.  My injury entitled “Needless Suffering” cleared up many things within my mind and amidst those thoughts I realized the dedication it takes for many of us to be at peace.  I believe those of us who constantly question and dig deeper and deeper for the answers may find at times that it is harder to be at peace.  This doesn’t quite make sense.  You would think logically that those who are determined to find peace would reside in a state of peace more often than others, but in my own life I have found that the discovery of spiritual peace within me has created a sensitivity to spiritual distractions.  That is when I become distracted from my spiritual journey, it tends to deeply impact my overall being.  Most go about their daily lives simply unaware of the perfect presence within so distractions from this presence does not have much of an impact.

Like most I am most susceptible to falling off of the spiritual track when I’m suffering or events seem to be going wrong.  I went to sleep Saturday night centered and at peace even though I was bothered with a nasty headache.  That night I slept for a total of three hours.  I lay there in my bed observing my digital laser clock projected onto the wall.  I felt little frustration from my lack of sleep at the time, but I knew if sleep did not take over soon then morning and the following hours would be rough.  I did not sleep for the rest of the night.

Sunday morning I attended church, almost in that of a delirious state.  I was nauseous from my lack of sleep and was struggling to stay warm.  Cold and tired are usually congruous with one another.  If I’m cold then I’m tired.  If I’m tired then I’m cold.  I was very restless the entire time as the pastor preached about the devil, something I don’t quite agree with.  As I looked around at the rest of the congregation, everyone seemed to be stirring in their seats apparently as restless as I was.  After the sermon I talked for a long while with a family from England.  Our discussion was deep and spiritual, and I observed our meeting as the reason I was pushed to attend the service that morning.

I felt awful for the rest of the day, a perfect time for me to label myself as a victim and find somewhere to turn up the noise and push my spiritual presence deeper within.  I find moments like yesterday to be the ultimate test of consciousness.  It is not much of a test to focus on the peaceful presence within when things are going right but when things turn sour is when we truly see how brightly our spiritual presence is shining.  There were a few times when I turned up what I like to call noise, but for the most part I stayed pretty strong.  Even though I didn’t succumb to the victim role, the whole day kind of threw me off balance.  Before going to bed that night I was feeling a bit lost and disconnected.  I told myself that I didn’t have to let an off day break me, so I picked up my most recent book, A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle, read a few pages and then meditated.  It was a quick fix and I was almost immediately pulled back into a state of peace.  It made me realize that even when we’re at our worst, it is always possible to turn things around and break the cycle.

Being the philosopher that I am, my latest query is one that we all face and probably ask ourselves several times the day.  Who am I?  I can’t count the times in my life when I looked up to God and asked Him this question.  Many times my questions arise from statements other people make towards me or even challenging, sometimes offensive comments.  When I feel as if I’ve been offended I try immediately to stop the situation and become the observer.  I step away from my mind and observe why I’m taking the offensive and what thoughts are incorporated with this feeling.  First off I usually discover that there’s really no need to be offended at all because the person is offending my false sense of self or my ego, not who I really am.  Second, I realize the emotion is taking place because I’m being challenged with a belief I have formed that I have doubts about or not a firm understanding of, so I’m being challenged with something that I fear about myself.

In my most recent entry, “The Life I Could Have Had”, it was proposed to me that I might be living in the past.  For a split second I took offense to the comment, then went through my two steps and asked myself, “Wait a second, am I living in the past?”  I thought back to the moments as I wrote about what life would be like if I was back in the mountains unharmed and normal, and I realized that during those moments I was not imagining with grief or anger, but visualizing the imagined life with fondness and warmth.  Taking myself back to the cozy feeling of my mountain household brought a feeling of acceptance of both the past and present.  Realizing that I wrote what I did with no bitterness I asked myself if it was OK to think about the past, and the conclusion I came to was that the present moment is all that truly matters, but there is nothing wrong with looking back on the past as long as it is without regret of how things should have been or a deep longing for those moments to replace the now.

The thoughts then led to deeper ones in which I stated to my mom and sister that one should not identify with their past, emphasizing that so many people cling to the past, the past becoming who they are.  “But the past is who I am,” my sister exclaimed.  “The past has made me who I am.”

I stuttered a bit, not really knowing quite what to say.  Yes, the past makes us who we are but people identify with past fears and past anger.  But then don’t people also identify with past joy and past happiness?  Who would I be if it were not for these moments.  Crap, I thought I had all figured out.  Who am I?

I referred to my good friend, Eckhart Tolle and came to some conclusions.  The question of “who am I” leads to two basic answers.  I am either what the past has created me to be or I am a spiritual presence that was there at my birth and has remained unchanged throughout my years.  One could also challenge to say that we are both or that both are the same thing.

It is my opinion that the past has not created who I am but has created my ego.  My ego being a false identity created over the years through various experiences.  My ego attaches certain emotions to these experiences being that of anger, guilt, happiness, joy, sorrow and so on.  The ego creates a sense of self through past experiences and the emotion attached with the experience, so that who we are becomes based off of a conglomeration of the past and associated attachments.  However, it turns out the ego is a conniving deceiver because it is absolutely impossible to attach a true sense of self from these experiences because it is not possible to remember our experiences as they truly were.  We think we remember them as they really happened but this just isn’t possible.  The only way to truly experience something as it really exists is to experience it right now.  As soon as the experience is over our memory of it in no way truly compares to how it really happened.

In the same sense there is no way to identify the exact emotion which took place during a past experience.  You may remember feeling a certain way but yet the only way to truly understand an emotion is to experience it now.  I may look back on a certain experience and think I was happy at the time but really I may have been struggling and frustrated.  There’s no real way to be certain.  So how am I supposed to put together an identity from experiences neither understood nor imagined as they really were?  In fact, my memory of these experiences is no way near what the experience was actually like.  It’s like trying to view a piece of artwork with blurred vision.

So how do I envision the artwork which is who I am clearly?  How do I understand?

When looking upon a Picasso, does one ever understand what we are seeing.  No, you simply feel the power of the painting and absorb yourself in a feeling which seems to radiate off of the canvas and into your soul.  The feeling cannot be explained or understood.  It’s a mutual connection which can only be experienced.  Much like art, who we are is not something to be understood or explained.  To find out who we are, we must look inside ourselves and absorb the peaceful presence within, let it swallow up our past false identities, and overwhelm the senses.  Who we are is then clear and bright as day right there in the moment.  It was there before the past existed and will be there for eternity.  Once this moment is experienced explanation is no longer needed because who we are is felt deep within and the feeling felt needs no words.  I am not past, present or future, I am eternal.

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15 Responses to Who Am I?

  1. KATIE says:

    WOW, Colin…Now you have me thinking about alot of those same questions you asked yourself. Interesting angle. I know I am going to have those questions floating around my head for the rest of the day and probably days to follow. *grins* It seems those questions are the questions I have been searching for but couldn\’t find the words. Thank you for shining the light on my internal struggles right now with your wonderful words!Take Care,~Katie

  2. Patricia says:

    Hwy Colin – thanks for your commet as always you have a way of comforting me. I love this entry and your questioning and thoughts. I once worked with teens that had gotten into trouble and were court ordered to a mental health facility – it was pretty much where these kids were sent before being sent to a detention center. I was a float when I first worked there – working with several units ranging from all ages -children to geriatrics. The teen unit however was always an amazing place for me. Since I was a float I did not have time to read their charts upon arriving at my shift to find out why they had been brought in. THis was good in a lot of ways -the kids would tell me their stories and experiences and where they were coming from. Many of them had broken homes, parents in jail, no parents at all, life on the streets, or abusive homes. As time would continue I was made a permanent person on the teen unit. I continued to allow them to tell me about themselves and their experiences rather than reading some chart – I figured that if they lied there was probably a interesting reason or need within them to lie – I didn\’t mind if they lied and they knew I would simply take their word for it and trust them on their word, what they chose to share was of their making – there were many staff memebers and all had a different way of going about things. What I found was that these kids\’ environments had created so many problems in their lives, had caused them to seek out attention in ways that were unproductive and negative and got them into trouble. On the other hand I was amazed at the creative nature of many of their escapades. They were amazing little artists! Creative, intelligent and beautiful. I saw in them a spirit that was something to really marvel at. A beauty within them that was untarnished and intact and whole though they maybe weren\’t in touch with it. By caring for them and being consistant with them knowing I wanted what was best for them, I watched them bloom and blossom. I watched some of that inner spirit shine. The part that the past had no way of touching – their true selves which were beautiful, kind, and loving and desperately in need of being accepted. I was shocked that this spirit could still remain intact after hearing about their pasts. I learned that removed from their environment and the past triggers that they became very comfortable and were some of the greatest kids – It was torture sending them home, but hopefully getting a chance to be just who they were inside for a time gave them a chance to know their greatness and love-ability and acceptance of themselves and my biggest hope is that they were able to remember that and that awareness with them. I suppose there most of all would be a place where I learned that our past experiences may cause us to react and act a certain way but they do not make us "who we are" – who we are is something that is sacred and inside us and really strong. Not strong in a steel hard way -but rather a resilant soft spot that is miraculously able to survive. I was lucky to meet them – I was lucky to encounter their greatness. I was lucky to get the chance to see the magic within them and learn from that magic. Today the snow shone with the noon sun like shimmering diamonds across my backyard. I look out there now and it is cold and blue under the moon – I think where did the diamonds go – because I can not see them does that mean they don\’t exist? I turn my back porch light on and there they are- diamonds shining. I smile. much caring your way -patti

  3. Unknown says:

    Great read! Having a spinal cord injury is not "picnic in the park!" I wish you the best!

  4. Ms. says:

    Hi Colin,Don\’t fret too much about an ego, I mean, it\’s a neccesary thing, (and I believe God given). Without an ego, Christ couldn\’t have uttered his own name.I see that it\’s when, in the moment, ego gets so out of proportion that defending ego beliefs becomes paramount to truthfulness with self.As human beings we are given the capacity of memory of past events. Our emotional bodies are as real as the rest of us, again God given. So many people want us to dissociate from past memories (especially unhappy ones) because it makes Them uncomfortable.Yes, sometimes memories are skewed a certain way–maybe by ego. But this Imo is a part of emotional growth and maturation.Our past memories and our emotions about them are a record of our history and are part of our being–to deny them is to deny we exsisted prior to this moment-and that isn\’t true. sometimes we can be clearer about what we truly feel at a later time, because we can take away the ego lens.One of the joys in my experience is to see the perspective of certain memories changes with time , which shows me I am truly in the process of becoming.The ability to re-experience past events and feel emotion is a uniquly human ability, and doing so hardly means you are \’living in the past\’–my goodness. Of course some people do this in life for whatever reasons, unwillingness, holding resentment. And there are those who will jump all over someone having a melancholy moment.But that is like telling me not to be sad or cry because a pet died , mourning is a natural process.So feel your feelings and have your thoughts about them, don\’t let anyone make feel wrong about it.These are my thoughts, for what it\’s worth.warm regards,Karen

  5. VENTL8R says:

    You are the definition of determination. Let me bask in your glory!!

  6. Shannon says:

    Hey Colin!Just stopping by to say hello…havent been by in a few days!Another great entry. We all have a tendency to live in the past in one way or another…its very hard to let go sometimes. Take care!Shannon

  7. Patricia says:

    Hey Colin – Hope you are well. Hope you had a good day. Stopping by to say hello! Hello! -patti

  8. Cherissa says:

    Hello Colin…I was guided here by a very wonderful person and am glad that I was. I had not wanted to leave a comment just yet, because I have not fully read your blogs. I wish to and shall be back to do so! However I did want to say hello and give you a warm smile, to perhaps brighten up your day today. From what I have read so far…I see an amazing, strong man with a beautiful heart and soul!!! I can not imagine what you are going through Colin, but what I see is not only someone who has survived but is living. I look forward to reading all that you have shared!!! There are so many wonderful people that visit and leave some great uplifting words…How amazing. That is something divine in and of its self. I hope with my heart that you are getting the will you need to move forward on this new path of life. You are not alone….just by you sharing, you place your self upon others hearts and in their thoughts!Take care Colin! And have a BEAUTIFUL day filled with warmth!Chère

  9. Anita says:

    Dear Collin,I have not forgotten about you, but aeralty I forgotten about myself and neglected the simple truths about self care.By doing so I landed in a hospital with a preatty major nervous breakdown.I am all better now… well still recovering, and trying to get my life in order.I still remember the last thing you wrote, and really want to proceed with the idea. I will wite about it real soon (as soon as I am dome with my cold probobly).Anyways… I hope that you are preparing yourself for the joyous holiday.Do you celebrate Christmass?Have a wonderfull day, and I hope to hear from you soon.You\’r always in my prayers,Anita

  10. Colin says:

    Hello Anita,Oh my, I\’m glad you back to your old self, well almost anyways.I never thought you had forgotten about me, but I was a bit worried about where you were. Blogging isn\’t first priority for most, so I figured you were fine. Then people started asking about you on patti\’s site, which made me worry a bit.I suppose the idea you are talking about is a healing circle. Is that right? I would love to follow through with the idea.I\’m glad you\’re back Anita. Get well soon.Colin

  11. Shannon says:

    Hey Colin,Just wanted to stop by and say happy holidays. Im going back east to visit my family for about a week and wanted to stop by before I go. Take care!Shannon

  12. Patricia says:

    Hi Colin – Miss your thoughtful blogs (no pressure, just kind encouragment) Hope you are well. I am currently awake again with that internal non-snooze button of an alarm in my head that goes off around 3 AM. Such a quiet time of night though – always peaceful. My best to you and I hope you are looking forward to the holidays. I will be travelling around a bit in a few days, I\’ll be gone for a few days, but I\’ll be back. I know I will be waking up at three and missing reading – hope to get some photos done though on my little adventure. I\’d love to share my adapted camera ideas with you – it involves you wearing a hat and well it isn\’t complicated -it is fun I have tried it – let me know if you are ever interested I will explain. 🙂 best wishes your way. -patti

  13. Kris says:

    How thought-provoking! I have to say that whether or not my soul was created with all of the traits I would one day possess, I know without a sliver of doubt that I would not be who I am without the experiences I have had. The real question then becomes, do you believe in fate? Or did you have any choice about the moments that have chiseled your inner self? I like to think that the moments may have been forseen, but that God has allowed me to choose how to handle them and therefore I have had some say in the steerage of my course.

  14. KATIE says:

    Just stopping in to say hello!! Have a great holiday season!!Take Care, ~Katie

  15. Patricia says:

    Hey Colin! I went to the bookstore today for my brother and Tolle\’s book is on display and is every where!!! I was so excited!! I was like, I hope everyone reads this book!Hope you are doing great! Best to ya always, patti

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