I am not I

Today I am reminded of this poem by Juan Ramon Jimenez called “I am not I.”

I am not I.
I am this one
walking beside me whom I do not see,
whom at times I manage to visit,
and whom at other times I forget;
the one who remains silent while I talk,
the one who forgives, sweet, when I hate,
the one who takes a walk when I am indoors,
the one who will remain standing when I die.

Issues of identity have been swirling around in my mind for some weeks, and I continue to think it may be part of an internal preparation for Africa. This person we drop into the street, that steps out of our door every day, how much does that person truly represent the I that we know ourselves to be? The person that we meet and talk to, how much are they actually able to represent the I that they inwardly know is who they are?

If I am not I, and you are not you, the sorting out and differentiating of all of this is a tricky task. It requires some serious willingness to suspend assumptions and engage reflection, with a lot of humor. As James Hillman says, “Do not take yourself personally,” and definitely do not take yourself seriously.

If I think I am I, and you think you are you, we’ve got trouble. Lot’s of insanity results. It takes an internal Buddha under a Bodhi Tree to see through the illusions.

I’m going to Africa reflecting on this. Issues of identity keep presenting themselves and I’m convinced it is because they are important to a cross cultural exchange.

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