Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Pinning down the Self

I had an epiphany on the way to school! So I'm studying Chinese Medicine right now, and its fascinating. I did a thorough intake on myself and on Tom, working on character type diagnoses.

My character types are split, as are most people. I'm Wood and Fire. Tom is very strongly Water. Now, the actual experience of going through the questionnaires and discerning the predominant characteristic is not really that important, I could have been looking at an astrological chart, or taking a quiz in Glamour magazine, a Scientology Personality Quiz, or any such thing. So for the purposes of this Epiphany, please know that its not about the Chinese labels, but more that we can use them to walk through this thought process. Bear with me... it might make sense at the end.

I've been ruminating over the fact that I come out strongly as Wood, I'm balanced in that category between Physical and Physiological characteristics. In Fire, I'm 100% of the Psychological, and 8 of the Physical. My Chinese Medicine teacher tells me that this indicates to her that I am more strongly a Wood Type, who is going through a Firey Period in life.

I'm okay with this, although I feel much more strongly identified with Fire. When I asked Tom to read through the questions, I told him the same thing that my teacher had told me, don't answer the questions as who you want to be, or who you think you are, or how you would have answered them in the last six months. This is how you would answer them in the last two weeks. Because your Psychological Self can change quickly, it adapts faster than your Physiological Body.

In Chinese Medicine, there is an idea that the physical is a manifestation of the Psychological, Energy tends to lead your Corporeal self.

So I'm driving to school today, and I'm looking at the spring wave of clouds that hugs the Bridgers from the Livingston side, rolling over it like a bundle of cotton batting, looking at the sun on the new wheat, bright green and vibrant in spite of the recent snow, and I'm thinking through the Chinese Character Types.

Here is the thought process. I'm Balanced in Wood. I'm also a Fire type. To put it in numerical terms, I'm 29 in Wood (split 15 and 14) and I'm 28 in Fire, (split 20 and 8). I'm thinking to myself, I'm trying to excavate myself, to discover me, to find myself, to know myself, so I can more accurately see pieces that are manifestations of ego, and let them go, and continue to grow.

I was troubled by a possible "inaccuracy" in looking at the types because I'm going through a Firey time, or things are shifting from Wood to Fire. So how can I know who I am? How can I pin me down and know just who I am so I can look at it?

Here's the epiphany. I've been looking and looking to find the static true me. But life isn't static. I'm not static. None of us are. We carry with us the culmination of life's experience and that can and does inform the way we move through the world in the now. But we are also learning, adapting, and letting go. We can filter that old information and let it either inform and rule our behavior today, or we can filter that old information and see it as a layer, like a lens of glass through which we view the present. If we can see the lens, if we know we are viewing through it, we can choose to remove it, intensify it, scrutinize its impact on today's decisions.

That concept, too, was not new. But the confluence of the two ideas, the self as ever changing and muting, the awareness of lens, led me to see that digging for the nugget of who I am, trying to pin down the self so I can excavate and understand, is a fruitless endeavor, because that self I would pin is different in this moment than in the moment that just passed.

Again, I need to let go, let go of concept, let go of ego, let go of definition of self, so that I can rest comfortably in the self that exists in the now, knowing its okay that that person was different in the past, will be different in the future, letting life's experiences flow through me, like a porous rock.

The label of "I am Wood" tries to freeze the self, the moment, and, like any label, detracts from the true self by putting rigid, static rules on it. While its important, for processing information, to be able to momentarily recognize and categorize things, its equally important to think of those labels like putting a post-it note that says "blue car" on a car that's driving slowly by. Yes, its a car, a blue car, you recognize it, gleam from it what information you can, and let it drive on. The next car that comes by may be a red one. Be open to seeing that, lest you just sit on the curb wondering about every quality of the car that's driven by.

Essentially, I think its another lesson in what is Ego, and how do I let go of it? I had a friend once who was defined by her illness. She never left her house, except at 3:30 in the morning, she'd come out on her porch and smoke a clove. I met her through her husband, who was a composer. I did some voice over work for him, his studio was in his home, and I met his beautiful, luminescent, willowy wife. We became great friends, but she was only around at night.

"Why don't you want to meet me at the Cafe?" I asked one day.

"Oh! Because I'm an introvert." she said cheerfully. She had developed agoraphobia, and with her diagnosis, knowing who she was, having defined herself carefully, she stayed inside. Her past said she was introverted, depressed and agoraphobic, and so, clinging to that diagnosis as a "read out" of her Ego: who she was, she followed the rules of being that person.

What if it didn't matter who you were yesterday, or who you'd be tomorrow? What if, in the now, you were whoever you are in this moment, free, flowing, like water over rock, present, and accepting.


Jongira said...

Not to trivialize, but I couldn't resist this: "in the movement from Wood to Fire, take care not to make an Ash of one's self." ;) - J

Liat said...

I really like this post! Thanks for sharing deep thoughts.

a said...

Jongria! You are so funny. I thought just the same thing. its interesintg, also tho, because water douses fire, but nourishes wood. Wood feeds fire. Earth controls water.

odd, no?

Glad you liked it, Liat! Your comment helped me write the post for today, finally!