On the sixth day of Christmas, Alexis said to me…
We are presences,
Studies have shown that, contrary to popular belief, leopards not only change their spots, but their spots grow and develop with them. Most likely what they wear is a product of evolution, environment, and age.
In much the same way, we change throughout our lives, as do the outfits we dress up in. While small children like to play doctors, or mummies and daddies, we guise ourselves in all kinds of ways as we mature. This applies to the ways that we alter our appearance according to the social role we are engaged in, and also how we adopt particular behaviours for that role. Some of these guises spring from our natural dispositions, and others from our beliefs and desires.
In this video, I talk about what we truly are, beyond whatever we are dressed up as, at a given moment.
Taking on the role of ‘mother’ is a big adjustment to make. There are the natural physiological changes of pregnancy, birth, and mothering, brought about by our biology, but also the psychological shifts which we undergo due to changes in our thinking, which occur for both biological and social reasons. Our priorities, identities, and beliefs may get thrown into sharp contrast compared to the ‘before time’ (as my husband and I refer to our lives before parenthood).
There are many more roles we might play in our lives, daughter, friend, wife, cousin, mortal enemy, responsible employee, customer, entrepreneur, hostess, teacher, learner, activist, feminist, spiritualist, to name but a few. In any situation, we have a schematic idea of who we should be, a ready label, a blue print.
Some roles, we play with a passion, others with analytic intensity, others we accept only with reluctance, some we perform without really thinking about it, some are exciting, some are habit, some are disagreeable, some are pleasurable. In fact, some roles are all these things, because the ‘job description’ of what it means to be anything, and how we feel about it, is always changing in our minds.
When we look at the people around us, it is easy to see one another as fixed points or snap shots rather than a fluid changing being. We characterise people in our minds’ eyes, attaching particular labels to them, then we confuse these labels with the living, breathing presence which we interact with. We do this to ourselves too.
No matter what we think we are in a given moment, where our focus is, all we can be is a presence. We shift, we change, and we are capable only of responding to what is in our thoughts in a given moment, which does not stay the same. Though we might exhibit mental habits and attendant behaviours, this is not who we are, because we can break or outgrow habits, yet somehow remain ourselves.
We are presences. We are not personalities.
We can and do change our spots with regularity.
What’s more, given our innate wellbeing and happiness, we are disposed to being loving presences. Even when we do not see or feel this love in our idea of who we are, or who someone else is, in that particular moment.
After all, think of who we were when we were babies, new to the world. Our minds were completely different then, and have undergone so much change since then, but still we can recognise ourselves as the same individual. We are a different expression of presence in every respect, and yet we are the same person.
The more we allow our idea of who we should be to shift and change, then the more we can be in tune with the rhythm of our own presence, rather than slaves to our personality or our roles.
What kind of presence are you right now?
What personality traits would you like to be freed from?
A big thank you to all of you with me on this Christmas Presence journey, and especially it is great to see some of these posts being shared around.
Lots of love,