“There is understanding of the world precisely to the degree that there is understanding of the Self.” ~ Unknown
Twelve days out of the month, for 24 hours at a time, I put on my superhero outfit. When I’m wearing my outfit, I help people who are sick and sometimes dying. I cut people out of cars that have been crunched like a Milky Way candy wrapper. I run into buildings that are churning out wild black smoke and shooting up crackling orange flames, while people are running out. Sometimes I’m perched at the top of a one hundred foot aerial ladder operating a nozzle that is shooting out water under immense pressure at one thousand gallons per minute. Other times I am squeezing myself under a turned over big rig in the mud patching up a fuel leak. I love my job. I love helping people as best I can. Even in the blackend grime of heat, smoke and tears. I love all of it.
At home, I slip into another favorite outfit. The cozy comfort of my matching aqua sweatpants and hoodie, the outfit of my role of mom and wife. At home my husband does ‘the guy stuff.’ He uses his power tools, invents projects, builds the kids a tree house and fixes the cars. Thank God he does all those things; things would fall apart if he didn’t. At home, I’m not even sure where the screwdriver and hammer live. However in my superhero outfit at work, you better believe that I’m going to be the first one to grab the chain saw out of the truck compartment and climb up onto the roof to ventilate that burning structure. At home, I’ve been known to jump at a spider sighting. I marvel that when I’m wearing my superhero outfit, I don’t even flinch as I crawl under a concrete pile of rubble among dead rats and other unidentifiable things. In my superhero outfit, I can command an emergency scene, telling bystanders to stand back and get out of harm’s way. People listen. At home in my aqua sweats, how is it that I can’t get even one disinterested 5 year-old to pick up his toys without saying it at least three times?
And then at other times, I transform into a different outfit. My super soft capri length yoga pants with the cute ruffled flare on the ends and maybe my sun-colored tie dyed tank. In this outfit, my life becomes the dance. I move in and out of experiences on the great big hardwood dance floor through chaotic rhythms and lyrical melodies. Tribal beats speak their ancient tongues and rock my soul. Chance meetings, mystical experiences and shifts in consciousness appear like random yet perfect pixels of color on an artist’s canvas. And I dance my life with abandon.
It is interesting the variety of roles we may choose to play in our lifetime. As someone has said, ‘Behind the roles we play, we are simply humans.’ I endeavor to take that statement one step further to the next question. Behind the roles we play beneath our human bodies, “Who are we really?”
These days I shift easily in and out of my different roles and I have found that in their unlikely partnership they even compliment and enhance one another. However, my life did not always feel so balanced. In fact, there have been times when I felt about as balanced as my kindergartner’s spinning top as it teeters and totters before its dramatic collapse. Maybe you know the feeling.
My life has most definitely been my teacher. Like all of us, it is through various experiences and circumstances that I have gained insights about some things. For me, these moments were pivotal in shaping the who I am today. I have tried to hold onto the nuggets that I’ve stumbled across – integrating the ones that made my life full and happy and learning some difficult lessons from the others.
In a culminating point in my life I would realize that I was living most of my life in a virtual sleep – not knowing who I really was, trying to be someone else’s version of myself, relying on others to make me happy, and way too busy to pause in appreciation of the present moment. Until I began to have moments of waking up. And it was not until I had experienced these moments of wakefulness that I realized that I had been living my entire life in a slumber.