Monday, April 12, 2010
Your original face
A friend of mine always wanted to be a pilot, high in the sky, looking down. She worked hard, went to flying school, earned her license. Soon, she worked her way up the ranks to Captain of a major airline. She felt a source of pride in becoming Captain Diane in what had typically been a man's domain.
Then she lost her job. When her first unemployment cheque arrived in the mail, she looked at the name on the cheque. Just plain Diane. No captain in front of it. "Who am I now?" she asked herself.
Zen asks, 'What was your original face? Before you were born?'.
This thought has been on my mind in the past weeks, as I've been immersed in structural edits of my biographical book. It's a tremendous challenge to order a life that has many facets - many faces - in a manner that creates resonance with the reader.
So I've been thinking about faces. The face we are born with, the faces we grow into, the faces we hide behind, the faces we show to the world. How can just one of them define us?
I led a journal writing workshop a couple weeks ago. At the beginning of the day, I talked about how we all have an inner need to know essentially who we are at the core. Certainly self-analysis, self-improvement, self-awareness has become a national pastime.
But it cannot stop there or we become obsessed with 'self'. Because once we find that original face...the one we had before we were born...then we must understand what that face was designed to give to the world. We each have an inherent gift or gifts, and it is this gift that gives our life meaning. But a gift is not a gift, unless it is given away.
I think I understand my original face now...but it has taken a long time to get here. This is one that says, this is who I am, regardless whether you like me or not.
Of course, understanding is only the first step...I may understand it, but I also admit it still remains tucked away most days.
However, I do seem to be airing it out more often.