I am vs. I have

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I am vs. I have

One would never say I am blue eyes, they say I have blue eyes.  However, the words that often follow I am are descriptions that don’t accurately depict what we are.  I’ve talked about this before in this post.  For those who don’t want to go back and read it – it’s about why I correct people who say my son is Autistic.  He has Autism but that doesn’t make up the person he is, it’s not all he is.  Autism is an obstacle for him but it’s not him.

Every now and again, someone says something that gets me thinking about what makes us up.  It’s common for someone to use I am and follow it with something that isn’t “true”.  I am fat – well I may have a fat body but does being fat make up everything I am.  For me, no.  For others, perhaps.  I think that’s sad.  I’d rather be creative or smart or fun than just fat.

As I was preparing for this post, I challenged myself.  I took a piece of paper and on one side I wrote I AM and on the other I HAVE.  The goal was to fill both sides of the page with words that came after both phrases.  It didn’t matter what I wrote so long as it fit.  It’s harder than it sounds.  I struggled many times, then one word would lead to a dozen more until I exhausted that thread.

What was interesting is that the page was a mix of things we see as positive and things that we see as negative.  But when the page was done, they just existed.  I didn’t have any strong feelings, like I thought I would.  I, almost, felt empty as if I had dumped everything I had and was on those two pages.  They were just words, a dictionary that defined me.  Some of them were tangible while others were completely emotional.

Even as I look the pages over again, I find that they don’t strike the emotional cord I thought they were.  It’s not like I dissected myself and left parts of me flayed on the paper.  It’s more like a photograph of an everyday event.  It’s not special or beautiful but it’s not something I find unappealing either.  It just is.

We spend so much of our time trying to define ourselves.  My husband asked me why do we have to have labels.  I didn’t have an answer for him.  But I think I have an answer now.  In this world we live in, we survive with information.  Everyday it’s about information.  More often than not, that information is supposed to make us feel something.  How many people share things on facebook that may not have its base in fact, it’s sole purpose is to use information to make us feel something.  We spend more time speaking in “facts”.

I remember an article years back.  The author related a strange conversation she overheard.  Two women were talking about another who had cancer.  I believe the two women were in a gym having this conversation.  They relayed the information about the cancer through a strange conversation about the third woman losing weight.  They had stripped away all the fear of the third woman dying and replaced it with that fear that many women have about their weight.  Weight fears often are a way to control the fear of not feeling acceptable or loveable.

I believe we use information to disguise the truth.  Could the death of children in a school shooting cover our fears for our own children’s safety?  While we feel for the parents of those children, do we talk about it as a way of processing what is happening with our own children?  When we are angry about government spending, does it reflect our own concerns about our personal finances?  Maybe, I, honestly, can’t say.

What I do know is that by defining a thing, we come to understand it.  When I finished my two pages of defining myself, I understood me.  I am me – all those other words just help to define me but they are not me.  It took a full page to finish the sentence I am.  I believe that was only the beginning.  There may not be enough words to accurately fill the pages there should be to define me and that’s okay.

The best part, as I work to define myself, I understand me better.  As I understand me better, I understand others better.  I can start to see the truth under all that information.  I can strip away the sub context and know what is real.  Once I see that, I can’t help but love what is there.

These are hard times.  I can’t say they are harder than other times but our constant barrage of information keeps us from moving forward.  We are buried under labels and sound bites.  But that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope.  My recommendation is to start with a sheet of paper.  On one side write I am and the other write I have – see where it goes from there.  My hope is that you realize you are so much more.  And perhaps, you, too, will see the world differently.

I know this is another one of those posts that has no real conclusion.  I’m not sorry because life is a journey and sometimes blog posts need to reflect that.  Happy holidays and may 2015 bring you self-discovery and peace.

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