who do you think you are?
Jan 11, 2020
I got diverted by a playlist on Spotify: a slice of Spice Girls memorabilia, circa '96. The refrain enticed, who-o-o- do you think you are? then re-echoed, do you think you are? It ricocheted me to an awareness of the following news item, circa 2012.
Missing woman mystery solved
A group of tourists spent hours Saturday night looking for a missing woman near Iceland’s Eldgja canyon, only to find her among the search party.
The group was travelling through Iceland on a tour bus and stopped near a volcanic canyon.
Soon, there was word of a missing passenger. The woman, who had changed clothes, didn’t recognise the description of herself and joined in the search.
But the search was called off at about 3am when it became clear the missing woman was, in fact, accounted for and searching for herself.
It’s fascinating, as well as disconcerting, to know you can lose your identity because you don’t know who you are. It’s particularly intriguing that the tourist searched long and hard for a self she didn’t recognise. Just imagine: you and a bunch of people you hardly know are searching for somebody you don’t know who, it just so happens, turns out to be you!
It’s enough to make you wonder: do you know the ‘you’ you are searching for? Cue, Spice Girls refrain.
Maybe meditation can help? After all, meditation is particularly good at revealing that there is no 'you'; that there’s only conscious awareness into which you insert ‘you’: ‘you’ thoughts, ‘you’ urges, ‘you’ emotions, ‘you’ impulses, ‘you’ actions - all perceived through the lens of I, me, mine.
To recognise this - particularly at the moment when thoughts, urges, emotions, impulses and actions are arising - is to experience a kind of liberation. It may only be a transitory liberation, but then again maybe all liberating human experience is transitory. Therefore, to accept transitoriness is... about as good as it gets.
The learning here seems to be that you can train your mind to cultivate spaciousness within the transitoriness of a given moment. That doing so is a worthwhile skill.
It may even help you wake up to the 'you' behind the you that you think you are.
Question: are you searching for a self that is defined by others? defined by the needs of others? defined by a criteria set by others? defined by what is deemed worthwhile by others?
Gratitude acknowledgement to Sam Harris and his lesson 'The Art of Doing Nothing' from which this post draws inspiration and essentially summarises. If you do one thing this year, subscribe to his app 'Waking Up'