Laying Down Identity


“In illness, you’re suddenly not yourself anymore. The question is: Are you going to cling in panic to some idealized self that no longer exists? Or are you going to cross the threshold and acknowledge that you’re on a journey, though you don’t know to where? You haven’t chosen it, but now you’re different in some way. This is one reason physical illness shows up as a turning point in so many spiritual biographies or as the catalyst of shamanic initiation. It’s a profound shock to the system. It dislodges you. You look in the mirror, and one of the unfortunate ill stares back. But in a way, you could say that disease also abrades away, painfully, all of these superficial ways in which we judge our worthiness, even life’s worthiness. Our worthiness, as in: “Am I strong, beautiful, competent, undamaged goods?” Or life’s worthiness, as in: “Life is good only when it makes me happy, or aggrandizes me, or favors my enterprise.” But who’s bigger, you or life? There’s a Rilke poem Robert Bly has translated: “This is how he grows – by being defeated, decisively, by ever greater beings.” by Marc Ian Barasch


4 Responses to “Laying Down Identity”

  1. dion flannery on January 17th, 2014

    Great thought for the day

  2. Michele in Vermont on January 17th, 2014

    What a great piece of wring. The personal is universal.

  3. Nicole on January 19th, 2014

    I do both. Lately, though clinging a lot .

  4. Barry on January 24th, 2014

    At some point, I became aware that beyond defining myself as a story about my history, I could define myself through a declaration into beingness. Here’s an example: In answer to the question “who are you” I could reply; “I am, that if asked, you would say your life is better for having known me.” Now in speaking that, even if only to myself, I have initiated an alternative future that directs my behavior toward the person I want to be. And although the statement remains constant, it provides limitless flexibility in it’s expression.
    And here’s another question for the day. Ask yourself; “what if, what I am, IS enough?” Not wether it’s enough, but that it IS. Now how do we behave?

Leave a Reply