Some days I stand taller than others.
Today is one of those days.
I suppose the feeling is in part physical. Not feeling hunched forward or pulled downward through my neck and shoulders like I frequently do. That happens sometimes when I have been working a lot or not paying attention to my body like it needs. When things start to tighten in my gut or my psoas starts begging to be stretched. When I stand and can feel every bit of my body pulled down by gravity and just want to curl inward like a ball.
Those sensations aren’t present this morning. My spine feels much more aligned and open than it has in a very long time. And I am physically standing taller and straighter.
But the feeling is also internal. A sense of also standing much taller inside than I have in a very long time. Perhaps in this moment filling just a bit more the measure of my creation. At least that is how it feels. Not shrinking away from being fully present in my body and soul today. At least not in this moment.
Every once in awhile I stumble across a question that sticks in my mind and rattles around until I find a meaning for myself. I came across one such question a few weeks ago. And have been working through it’s meaning for me.
“What defines you?”
That was a doozy the morning I read it.
If I looked in the dictionary under the heading “Vanetta” what would I find? What words would be there that uniquely define me? Would it list my accomplishments or education? Perhaps my profession or the people I am related to. Maybe I am defined by my physical characteristics. Brown hair starting to streak with silver, green eyes that get brighter when I’m amused, 5’2 1/2″of height (my spine hasn’t straightened that much). I don’t think that’s it, though, because that could describe a lot of people. . .
Like I said, this has been rattling around for a few weeks.
Sometimes I think we define ourselves by our challenges. By the labels we have or the roles we play. I suppose mom or sister or spouse or friend could define me. Except I fill those roles in my own way. I’ve tried filling them according to expectation and that rule book I was once convinced existed somewhere. That didn’t work out so well, so now I do it in the way that best fits me.
The attitudes and beliefs behind that behavior are probably more defining than the behavior itself.
e.e. cummings has been quoted as saying “To be nobody -but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”
Followed by the question “How do you define yourself?”
It is interesting to me that the question I saw three weeks ago was “What defines you?”
Perhaps the difference in those two questions is only important to me. But it is important. Because in all the thinking and reflecting and questioning I have done of myself in the past several weeks, trying to decide what defines me, I was missing the point. The point I have only come to realize after the searching. That the only thing that matters is how I define myself.
Which shifts something ever so subtly but oh so important inside. I get to decide how I define myself.
The reason that question initially morphed in my brain is because my first answer to the question was that I didn’t know. Didn’t want to really look too deeply at the things I was thinking of myself or telling myself. Preferred to look elsewhere to accomplishments or labels or roles or things other people had already defined. Much more comfortable with that. On some level attempting to avoid that relationship and responsibility I have with and for me.
It amuses me to see how that process led me right back to the original question. Not seeking what defines me. But truly looking inward to how I define myself. Following that question this morning makes my green eyes greener. . .
I don’t have an answer yet. It might take a few more weeks reflecting on this better question. And I’m pretty sure whatever I come up with will be subject to ongoing revision and addition. If nothing else, currently that makes me a marvelous work in progress.
How do *you* define yourself?