I Am My Own Love
One of my colleagues has recently retired. He knew it was the right thing to do for his family and himself, but he had a really hard time with it. “All my life I’ve thought of myself as a professor. That’s my identity. That’s who I am. That’s how others think of me, too. Who am I going to be when I retire?” he told me one day.
All the ancient and modern spiritual teachers have always told us not to mistake the roles we play in our lives with who we truly are, but we, humans, are so stubborn. The teachers keep teaching, and we keep ignoring them. Until we can’t any longer.
Most of us have experienced at least one loss so profound, so heartbreaking and gut-wrenching that we thought it would literally kill us. To our biggest surprise, however, we kept waking up after it – the morning after the loss, and the next one, and the one after that, – still in our bodies, still in our life situations, still alive. Our hearts kept pumping, our lungs kept expanding and contracting, our bodies kept functioning and we were still in this realm.
Since the bodies were still working, our minds were as well: “Who am I without… (fill in the blank)? How can I live without…? How can I ever be happy again without…?”
I often see car license plates saying something like, “JACKSWIFE” or “MARYSMOM” (it’s interesting, by the way, that women tend to do this kind of thing more often than men), and I always wonder, “What if your life situation changes (and I hope it doesn’t for those people’s sake) and you can’t define yourself in those terms anymore? Then what?
What if you lose that job, that house, that relationship, that person…? What is going to be left of you?..
Having recently lost a very dear person in my life, I am learning that a loss DOES feel like a real death, but only if we’ve identified with the roles we were playing too much, if we’ve forgotten who we truly are, if we’ve been deriving our sense of self-worth from something outside of ourselves. Then a loss equals death – the death of our made-up identities, our self-images, our egos, and that hurts. A LOT!!!
I’ve recently written about having two different types of relationships in my life and not finding happiness in either. I now see that I couldn’t find it there because it was never there to begin with. I was looking in the wrong place. I was looking for my happiness, joy, contentment and fulfillment in the exterior world – in other people, in life circumstances, in relationships…
I am now learning firsthand what all the sages and spiritual teachers of this world have taught us for centuries: “My happiness is within. I am the love of my life. I am my own love and joy.”
All the wonderful people and beautiful souls that I am surrounded with, all the amazing circumstances and situations that I encounter make my life richer, even more enjoyable, even more fun, but none of them can make me feel happy because they are not the source of my happiness. I am.