I ask everyone I meet, using word or sense, “who are you?” And in 45 years of travel across this beautiful planet, I have only been answered twice.
Yes, I have heard people say “this is what I read, and I will be that” and I have heard, more often than not, “this is what my spouse expects and so I am that.” I have heard “this is what makes me fit into the melancholy of my community, and so, I shout out my (their) radical views. I hear the contradiction between conformist and the true nature of the individual.
I have begged the question “who are you” from thousands, maybe millions of people and there is a common ill. The answer is, normally, “whatever gets me approved by those who give me what I want.” And this we understand, it is a way to survive in the jungle, a way to avoid being eaten by lions, a way to secure an identity as someone, anyone that someone expects us to be. This conformity prevents our authenticity. It is tiring to watch let alone do.
How many are proud to say “this is what I think About you” – and defend the whim of it. No, we would rather ask, “ what should I think, say and do” in order to be considered a good version of a person, rather than be myself.
My neighbour teaches yoga, ask her right and wrong and she will refer to a book, a yoga book, written by another one, wanting to be “yogic” – not true, not nature, not real, no, a conforming ambition to achieve the approval of shiva or some such unknown magical entity that we don’t even know is real. A Christian does the same in the name of Jesus, who we definitely know is a mythology combining the virtues of “a multitude of personalities” again, for other’s acceptance, rather than a true reflection of self.
In youth, there is that careless selfishness that shamelessly does what it does without too much regard for consequence, either short or long term. This innocence, this spirit of adventure is as quickly as possible extinguished, to make sure the youth doesn’t enjoy their time of boundarylessness as much as the parent did. the parent kills the spirit and puts their own version of lovability on the youth and then wonders why they eventually hang from a tree, their life, marriage, children, all bent in the direction of opinions that are placed on an altar greater than their own courage and freedom. A prison was built by a parent placing conformity over the roof of the world, creating a habit, “for the child’s own good.” Which is a blatant lie. it is only for the parent’s own comfort such ceilings are placed.
How long will this job last? How long will this marriage last? How well will my child do in life? How “good” will people think I am? When I write my vision for the future, what will others think? Am I too “different?” What mask must I wear in order to be a leader of the same quality I read in the company manual?” All this is understood, it is the way of commercial life. We do it to secure a place in life. That place of course is not of our choosing but more, a place that parent, partner, child will be proud of… and in the last stretch of that desire we kill the imagination, we burn at the stake, we wither in hell because we forget how to take off the mask, how to liberate others to be themselves, how to dance and not care how it looks. We become, conformists, the death of nature and self.
Maybe in your vision quest in the 30 day challenge you have a chance to remember how it feels to be naked, real, honest, self reliant, whimsical, free. strip away fear, strip away parental expectation of you to be good, to judge, compete, throw safety to the wind and know yourself, before, in the interests of some arbitrary standard that belongs to others, you put back on the mask, the smile, the good manners, and once again go beneath the ceiling placed over your head, by you, and again forget how damn boring and unsatisfying the world of conformity is.