Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Me, or not me?

So in high school growing up, we had this friend Tom with whom we'd play "me or not me," a pretty silly game wherein we'd name different people and he'd have to identify the person as himself or not himself.  So, if someone said "Tom," he would say "me," but  if they said "Katie," he would say "not me."  It was pretty funny/endearing how he would get so intensely sincere, this generally pretty smart kid, about identifying whether a person was him or not. 

Last year at about this time, I posted about embarking on the 40 days of Lent and quoted some particularly striking words to which I want to return at this moment:
It takes kenosis, a stripping of oneself, a totality of surrender. It takes a total interiorization, in which we recollect all our fantastically scattered thoughts. Because symbolically speaking, we must be naked and follow a naked Christ. We can’t take anything with us except faith, hope, and love.
The game we played with Tom as high schoolers seems pretty silly, but now, as an adult, I am realizing that "me, or not me?" is actually a difficult question, particularly when it comes to feelings.  It has taken me a lot of years, but I'm finally realizing - beyond intellectually - that if someone is angry, that is them, that I am separate from them.  I am slowly learning to step back and even put up an emotional barrier of some sort that acknowledges their feelings as well as establishing some sort of distance or distinction.  Just because someone else is sad, just because someone else is angry, even if it is because of me, it doesn't mean that I need to get sucked into it, a false empathy.  Somehow, a part of empathy is boundaries, in a strange way.  I can't really describe it that well. And I'm tired and I need to get up in 6 hours to catch a trolley to catch a train to catch a shuttle to catch a flight.*  So this will not be one of my most well thought out posts. 

Anyway, the journey within is one we are forever and always making, often cyclically, and so at this season of my life I am dedicating this time to a focus on the aspect of the journey pertaining to my own feelings, in essence, an emotional version of "me, or not me?"  I suspect, and it has been my experience so far, that as you learn to step back, to simultaneously experience AND observe what is happening, that the way to act just becomes clear.  And I hope that because I'm giving up something which I enjoy and do regularly (eating sweets/desserts), those little abstentions will serve as reminders for me to keep these thoughts on my mind and heart.  Giving up to possess, letting go to hold on.  The more I focus on emotional boundaries, the more of myself I will be able to give.  Life is - in a way, it seems - abundant with beauty and little infinite paradoxes. 

I've had this song/scene stuck in my head.  I like her making a difficult and scary decision for her family, but also for herself.  And I like it when she prays to the ancestors.  And I like the synthesizer music.  And when she cuts off her hair with a sword.  I don't even know. 

*I'm going to Utah tomorrow to go skiing and see some friends and of course to visit my brother P at The Lord's University.

1 comment:

kales said...

Wow-that really dates Mulan from the 90's. That was some serious synth, there! I just watched the Little Mermaid for the first time in about a decade, and was brought to tears more than once for similar reasons...hard decisions, believing in onself, independence, etc. Amazing how Disney can occasionally encapsulate deep complicated things in a relatively innocuous scene.