"No truth is so sublime but it may be trivial tomorrow. People wish to be settled; Only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them." -Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Male, female, son, daughter, sibling, friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, child, teenager, adult, bachelor, serial monogamist, spouse, parent, professional, loser, winner, victim, victor, and on and on. Throughout the course of our lives, there are countless roles we play and each one tends to dictate that we present a certain version of ourselves to the world: a version that we or the world deem as appropriate or expected. This can leave us feeling restricted and disconnected as we try to decipher what aspects of ourselves we can or cannot reveal within the confines of each role.
Sometimes we are able to redefine a role but then there we are again within the boundaries of that new definition. We tend to believe that some combination of these roles does or will define who we are, yet that winning combination never ceases to transform. We tend to seek out particular societal, familial and/or political roles in order to validate our sense of worth and identity: once I am a business leader, parent, politician, activist, wealthy person, artist, teacher, etc, then I’ll be whole, we think. Yet, no matter how hard we try, the parts never seem to add up to a whole.
Have you ever become so intensely identified with a role, that if that role was threatened, you felt as though you would cease to exist? Yet, if that role was extinguished, although possibly terrifying and painful for a time, maybe you eventually found that you still existed? Maybe you felt a bit or maybe even a lot relieved to be free of the now revealed limited confines of that role? Maybe you were then able to see things that were previously obstructed from view? Maybe you were then free to imagine infinite possibilities for yourself and the world again, rather than just one or a few? Maybe you realized that the previous role may have once been relevant in your life but had actually ceased to be so for quite some time and was in fact impeding your evolution? Maybe you pondered that if you no longer believed, as you once so intensely did, that that role defined who you are, maybe who you are is beyond any role that you could ever play? Maybe you ruminated on how defining yourself by any particular role, no matter how grand, might be to diminish the unimaginable vastness of who you truly are?
To be clear, roles can contain many positive aspects to them, such as motivating us to get out into the world and make a positive contribution. Yet what I have found to be limiting is to constrain ourselves, to define ourselves solely by any one or combination of roles as it can close our eyes, ears and hearts to the evolutionary guidance and callings that do not emanate from or fit neatly inside of any of them. No role can ever explain, define or contain the infinite, ever changing explanation of who you are and who you can be.
What if, like the changing of the weather, we could frictionlessly float between roles, engaging completely in all that we choose, yet holding tightly onto none of them? What if we could cease to define ourselves by anything other than our infinite potential? Then, upon releasing ourselves of those chains, what if we could also do that for our perspective on another? The ripple effect could be a powerful one.