The Story of ‘Me’: Your Favorite Story?
Almost everyone likes a good story. And it’s a rare person who’s favorite story isn’t “the story of me.” Who I am, what I do, who and what I know, where I’m from, where I’m headed and why, how I can get there… and what’s standing in my way.
Like all great stories, the story of me is full of ups and downs, getting what I want and losing it, good days and bad days, victories and defeats, joys and sorrows.
When we don’t like how it’s going, the story of me is still our favorite story. We still give it our full attention, maybe more when it pains us and feels like it’s driving us crazy than when it’s bringing us joy.
The silver lining in the “me gone bad” story is that it can also be a great opportunity to examine our assumptions about life and about ourselves.
That’s not the only time we can do this, of course. But when everything’s going well, let’s face it — we’re not usually moved to step back and see what’s beyond the story of me. Why would we — life’s great! — what needs to change?
But when life starts to get under our skin and we’re no longer enjoying the story of me so much, that’s when we often start to ask the questions that can connect us with what’s real, true and always at ease deep within ourselves regardless of what’s happening on the surface. Questions like, “Is this really important?” “What actually matters?” and “Who am I beyond my apparent appearance and the events in my life?”
If we can start to recognize our true nature beyond the ups and downs of life, we’ll discover that’s the part of us that is actually real — and that the rest of it is just a virtual reality sound and light show.
When spiritual teachers talk about our true identity being the “Self,” as opposed to the “body,” it can easily turn into something conceptualized and confusing.
For many people who clearly still notice that they are having bodily experiences and interacting with other bodies, it’s hard to make sense of this “I am not the body” jargon. The way it’s presented, it is, more often than not, jargon.
For a person to claim “I am not the body” is the equivalent of a wave in the ocean claiming, “I am not a wave.”
The key here is not that the wave is not a wave, or the person is not a person. It’s that the wave is not only a wave; it’s just as equally the ocean. And likewise the person is not only a person; he/she is also just as equally the Self, the whole.
The trouble comes when the wave perceives itself as only a wave, separate and independent from the ocean. Or when a person perceives themselves only as a person, separate and independent from the whole. This is identification with the “false” self because it is to identify with that part of ourselves that is mortal and fleeting — and to altogether lose sight of that which is eternal.
In thinking we are separate from that which is living all lives, including our own, we attempt to exert our own control and influence over our lives.
Meanwhile, life is unfolding as it’s unfolding. It’s not designed to give us everything we want, but why does it need to? And who said we can’t still enjoy whatever it does give us? Can’t we trust the all-seeing vision of the whole over the limited vision of the part?
If we can only realize that life is taking care of itself (which includes us, too!), we can relax and flow with the movement of life.
The alternative is a futile struggle in an attempt to swim upstream, insisting that “our” life conform to how we think it should be going instead of enjoying the unique and marvelous display that has already been set into motion.