David Richo introduces the idea that our “true identity is the space between the injunctions” (p. 45). What he means is that we get lots of messages in our life from society, our family, friends, school and the media that limit us. He suggests that whichever limiting beliefs or taboos we buy into (often unconsciously), restrict our identity...who we really are.
To put this into the context of day to day life, think about the assumptions you hold about how your life should be. Sometimes I see people getting drawn into the current of: go to college, get a “good job”, get married, have kids and then, all of the sudden, they find themselves unhappy. This doesn’t mean that our culture’s assumptions about a life path are wrong or bad. No, it actually suits a lot of people. But, not everyone. Sometimes I notice that there was not enough space created for the internal signal that said the “good job” is not what fulfills, challenges, scares or delights them. The “good job” turns out to be deadening and soul crushing. Or, there wasn’t enough space to really be present to what was happening in their relationship before making the choice to get married or to consider how they really felt about becoming parents.
What if your way....your true way of being, loving, parenting, creating, doing your job or living your passion is different than what is “prescribed”? David Richo gives the example of Beethoven: “Beethoven saw that Mozart had achieved the ultimate in the then current forms of musical expression. There was nowhere to go. The only thing he could do was open up a whole new space and that is exactly what he did. Where was that newly created art? It was in the space between the rules and the respected forms. Lingering there, he set himself and music free” (p. 45).
We often crowd that powerful space with over controlling ourselves or the people around us. We crowd it with our fears, being constantly busy, constantly thinking of our “to do” list or getting drawn into drama (refer back to the Practice Being a Witness post to see what I mean about drama), or by having the same automatic and defensive reactions to things in our life. If we are constantly “filled in”, there is no space for the Self to come in, for fulfilling the true potential of our existence. David Richo describes this space as “the space that is in a hollow bamboo so that Krishna can play his song” (p. 46).
When we create space for discomfort to be present for a moment, for a moment before we respond to being triggered, for curiosity rather than avoidance of our experiences, for space between our thoughts or between should or shouldn’ts and rules, there is space for who we really are. “Like a cathedral, we do not take up space, we create space” (p. 47).
The power of being who we really are takes us exponentially closer to what we really want in this life. Why? Because, in that fidelity to ourselves, creative solutions show up—you create your way of doing and being. The stepping stones of your path start to show up as you get more and more aligned with your true self. Have you ever had serendipitous or synchronistic things happen in your life that have made things turn out better (or set you up perfectly to learn a lesson) than you ever could have planned? That is alignment. People who do exceptional things and are remarkable in their way of being are ones who exist in alignment with their true self as much as possible. What is more important? To me, nothing.
Just remember: because we are human, it is easy to forget about this, to be distracted by our day to day lives. So, it is not about being perfect in this regard, it just means returning to the practice of creating space again and again.
*This post is written in response to a section in David Richo's book "When Love Meets Fear: Becoming Defense-Less and Resource-Full".