In peak moments of flow and manic machinations of enthusiasm unbound we kid ourselves into believing that we truly know who we are in full. Charged events of loss and favor reveal to us in a Satori instant of enlightenment our real potential for depth and insight but often bring only the disappointing intuition that we are too shallow to fully view these transformational moments that transpire just beyond our vantage point. At these moments we may turn to the wisdom traditions which offer potent platforms to pull us up towards heaven or chant us into the void of no-mind and incorporeal serenity. While the tenants of faith may vary the inclination to move us to higher elevations is universally paramount.
While too much self reflection leads mostly to the divine punishment of Narcissus we must advance our Self knowledge if not our awareness in some useful form if we are to grow in fruitful consciousness, action and result. Of course our guiding vision of our Self is essential in moving us forward but it is entirely insufficient. We need to develop a cogent plan based on our real abilities, willing associates and assets at the ready. While Man may be justified by faith alone it is in the communion of works that we do the heavy lifting required to move us hither and yon. This requires constant corrections. We are not sprung fully formed from the brow of Zeus. We schlep along on our pilgrimage to the holy places with an assemblage of unlikely others who join and fall away according to some rhythm we do not follow.
The answer to the question of who we are really is ensconced in the situation and context in which it is asked. We are an assemblage of where we have been and those who have narrated our story along the way. But perhaps we can be truly seen and heard above the rumble and the chatter that bustles and bumps. We may indeed be different people all together depending on if we are at work or church or the school of our children.
There are four basic classes or families of roles we play:
- Personal: This is who we are when we are in our core social unit such as a family or relationship or close friendship: Husband, father, son, brother, buddy, etc. These roles are defined by intimacy and familial expectations and responsibilities.
- Professional: This is who we are when we are at work performing our trade or service for some form of compensation monetary or otherwise. Typically some form of training or association is designated for this occupation: Physician, entrepreneur, programmer and all similar nouveau pursuits. We may play multiple roles within this class as our profession spills over into our home life and beyond.
- Creative/Aspirational: This is who we are when we are creating beyond our personal or professional roles. That is, when we dare to move outside of our ordinary responsibilities and distractions to become something greater: Author, musician, painter or weaver or the like. While these generative pursuits may result in some recognition or monetary recompense, we do them simply because we have a calling. They flow toward growth.
- Shadow/Stranger: This is the role we play when we are operating in the negative zone. In these roles we are often unsure of our real motives or what triggers their appearance: Addict, philanderer, misanthrope, etc. These roles are particularly frightening and troublesome because we may feel unable to contain their destructive power. In many spiritual traditions the deity responsible for renewal is the also the harbinger of desolation for they are both part of the same process. While we may engage professionals to see our goblins safely out or at least keep them well sedated, acknowledging this ruinous role is essential if we are to be whole where all of our parts are required.
In reality all roles are deeply interwoven and to pull the thread of one is to unravel the others. Still some good may be done by codifying our communities and creating a roster of all of the good souls around in each of our roles. This will serve as an aid to understanding our Self in the context in which we really function and will help us determine who we may enlist in our growth and what they may expect from us. While it’s important to take stock of our roles and responsibilities to others and ourselves, each role brings with it constituencies. Here among our people we find our “go-to” playmakers, the people who help get us from here to there. Winning coaches, top shelf executives and grandmasters at chess all have a deep understanding of what each contestant is designed to do. Instead of wasting time trying to change their natural purpose, they position them to fully mobilize their natural talents and tendencies for the victory of the team.
To objectively understand how the pieces fit together, inventory and PEG the People, Endeavors and Goals of key supporters. The aim is not to manipulate but rather to appreciate what they seek and how they seek it. We have an existing ensemble of players and plays to work with and we are looking to maximize their range and potential. To sync our actions with our aspiration consider experience and competencies as well as current and emerging reality. This is where we employ what we have to reach our desired future. This is how we give and take from our people. This is where we come to understand the roles we play and forgive others who play along.
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