Friday, September 18, 2015

Who am I?

When we think about big questions like Who am I? or What is my purpose, something from our innermost recesses is calling out. We can start figuring out the answers to these questions by exploring our archetypes, those patterns of thoughts and images that are universally present in our individual psyches. I resonate with The Artiste/Creative archetype apart from some others. What's interesting is that there was a time when the word artiste felt like something I did not want to identify with. 

There were too many myths about bohemian artistes or starving artistes that made me feel uncomfortable with the idea of calling myself an artiste. But as I have grown older, I have seen that I was rejecting myself because I did not have a real idea of what my own artistic self would look like. There were no real models, and I did not have enough faith in my then brittle self to go and find my real self. 

I have been dipping through the book Archetypes by Caroline Myss in which she talks about the different archetypes that are rising in us. She talks about their gifts, their challenges, the myths that hold us back from realizing our true selves, the traps we can fall into, and the true nature of our individual power. We could be The Intellectual, The Rebel, The Spiritual Seeker, The Caregiver or The Athlete, but if we don't confront our own specific questions, we won't make our way forward. 

For the Artiste, the unique challenge is to overcome the fear of not being original. This is something I find myself struggling with again and again, how to let myself practice enough so that I can become truly original, how to not feel dejected because I can only see the things that need to be corrected and not the level of skill I already have. 

Being aware of our main challenge, the question that comes up for us again and again can help us understand who we are, what we value and what we are really aspiring to. It can help us see that the patterns in our being resonates with a universal, yet specific pattern. Not all of us are The Athlete. Not all of us are The Caregiver. We all have unique questions and challenges that people like us - other athletes, other caregivers, other seekers - have grappled with. Just understanding where we belong can help us understand and frame our own experiences. 

If you a Creative/Artiste like me, this story that Myss tells will resonate with you, like it resonated with me: 

"A woman once told me, "I need to go away and find my Self." I knew when she said it that she didn't mean "find myself ," but "my Self," with a capital S. She had awakened to her inner nature, to that part of her that was more than her personality, more than her daily routines. She had discovered the inner voice that is separate from the ordinary self that organized her life by rules and expectations." 

I asked her, "What do you think you'll find on this quest for your inner Self?" 

"I have always wanted to be an artist," she said. "I know I am an artist. I have never given my Self a chance to do my art because I told "myself" that no one took me seriously, so how could I take me seriously? But I feel as if I am living a false life, a lie. I can't stand it anymore. I don't care if I starve. I would rather live a hungry authentic life than an abundant lie."

In meeting her Self, this woman had encountered her Artist archetype. She could no longer continue to live a life blaming others for her choice not to fulfill her archetypal destiny." 

I can understand this woman's hunger for her true life. I can also understand why it might have taken her so long to find her Self. There are so many injunctions against being an artist that it is understandable that many of us don't want to claim who we are. 

But just as this woman recognized who she was at last, we come to a place where we recognize that the soul-starvation we were feeling was because we had denied ourselves something essential to our very natures. 

What is it that you need? Which universal pattern reverberates inside you? Are you The Advocate looking for a cause that engages your strength? You might find getting trapped in causes that lock into your anger or personal agenda. Are you The Caregiver whose challenge is to become discerning when giving instead of burning out by giving indiscriminately?  

Which image leads you home to yourself?      

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