You Are Not Your Job
If you ask the typical American who they are, after their name they will likely tell you what they do for a living. This is one reason why the loss of a job is so hard on people. It’s one thing to lose your income, but losing your identity is nothing short of catastrophic. And yet, unemployed, you are still here. So you cannot be your job.
You Are Not Your Body
Another place you might go is to figure you are your body. But consider this, if you lost a leg would you still be you? How about both legs? You are still you? Ok then, how about both legs and both arms, your eyes, your ears, your tongue? Short of losing your head, you would still be you. So you cannot be your body.
You Are Not Your Mind
So what about this “losing your head”? If you are not your body, perhaps you are your mind. But consider the pattern here. You have a job, you have a body. Do you also have a mind? If you are your mind, then you surely must control it. So here is a simple test to see if you are your mind: stop thinking.
How long did you make it? Thirty seconds? Sixty? Unless you are some sort of master meditator, you probably can’t count the gap in minutes. And when a thought finally arose, did you choose that thought? No, this mind is more like a pet, and a self-willed pet at that. So you cannot be your mind.
You Are Not Your Past
So Bob (can I call you Bob?), there is this social contract that we have all accepted. We all agree that we will attach the label “Bob” to your collection of experiences, accomplishments, and misdeeds. However do I, the knower of “Bob”, know about all of those things? I probably have big gaps in my knowledge of this collection and yet I am still so bold as to say, “I know Bob.” I might have a different take on some of these doings than other people might, even a different take from you, Bob. It is possible you may be proud of something I assess as a failure or ashamed of something I estimate is a success. This is a pretty shaky foundation on which to build your very being.
Furthermore, you are free at any time to take a completely different path, renounce your past, put on a new personality, take up badminton, who knows? Nothing about your past is permanent. No, the past is not changeable. But it remains where it is, gone. So you cannot be your past.
What Is There Left To Be?
You must be something. After all, there is no denying you are here. In fact, not only are you here, you are now. Here and now describes you just perfectly. To put it in one word, you are present. The past is history and tomorrow’s a mystery. The present is the singular moment that you have to be. You can do anything with this moment. What will you do?
Yes, you may do your job, or workout your body, or train your mind, or draw from your past. But all that is just context, within that context you command the moment. You could be highly committed to being a doctor or hate your clerking job at 7-Eleven. You could be proud of your physique or sad about your ill health. You could feel well educated or clueless. You could rest on your laurels or be living down your past.
The key word in all of that is “or”. You have options, even infinite options. That doesn’t mean you have all options however. Don’t get caught up in desiring an option you don’t have. After all, the options you don’t have aren’t you. Do you know how you know? They aren’t present. Since you are present, they must not be you.
Still, your horizon stretches in front of you. The creation of the present moment is your gift and your obligation. You will create this moment like you did the last and the moment before that. If you want to change, enough of those new moments strung together will convince even the alleged “knowers of Bob” that you are indeed transformed. Or maybe the past moments suit you just fine and you wish to reinforce them further. So go, do, be, because this is who you are.
“You may not be who you think you are.” click to tweet
You are not your job.
You are not your body.
You are not your mind.
You are not your past.
You are only your present.
What did you learn? Tell us about it by commenting below.
Photo credit: Ivana Jurcic