There was a period of time when I became obsessed with snakes. Yes, seriously – the creepy, crawly, sometimes deadly creatures that most shriek at the thought of. I found them to be fascinating; I researched them, I studied them, and I even wrote stories about them. What particularly attracted me was the idea of the shedding of the skin – the re-birth, renewal, and ability to recreate oneself.
I began to turn the focus inward and ask: what ideas about myself do I need to ‘shed’? What conceptions about who and what I am are no longer serving me? Why hold on to any concrete ideas about myself when life itself is about change?
It seems that often we get the message that we are supposed to have a fixed identity, and that when asked ‘who are you?’ at any given time we should have a pretty solid answer – an answer filled with our ideas, beliefs, attitudes, various roles, and characteristics. But if asked ‘who are you?’ ten years from now, or ten years prior to this very moment, of course this answer might change. In fact, I’m almost sure it would change.
As the days fly by, turning into years and decades, we often can’t see that we are, in fact, in a constant state of flux; it is our very nature to be impermanent, ever-changing, and ephemeral.
Alan Watts would say, “Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.”
There is, I suppose, a sort of comfort, in this universe of mystery, in feeling as though we have a solid, relentless definition of who and what we are. It may feel like we’ve resided in a place of security when we’ve come to some sort of conclusion about ourselves; but as we might find, this quickly becomes burdensome.
We must be willing to “shed our skin” as much as is required to become that which experience and life has asked us to become. We’ve gotta be willing to be flexible, loose, and ready to roll with change because, whether we like it or not, change is always knocking at the door, waiting to be invited in.
Take it from me – I’ve resisted change like it were the ultimate enemy to the level of relative (though illusory) comfort I’ve come to know. But ultimately, when I am ready and willing to let go of who I am, and reinvent myself, I find that I become wiser, stronger, and an overall better human being. Every day, whether I see it or not, I’m growing and morphing, flourishing and sprouting – becoming more. Resisting this change would be resisting my highest good.
It’s not always easy – I’ve clung tightly to these definitions of myself as though they were my saving grace. I’ve held on tightly to opinions, beliefs, attitudes, and people that no longer served me, but that felt merely familiar and comfortable. However, holding on quickly becomes painful, and creates a rigidity in my body, mind, and soul. Life asks us to move with it: to do it’s dance. To flow. To move onward and upward and be ready to adjust our metaphorical sails when the wind changes direction.
And it always changes direction.
Be willing to wake up each morning and shed your skin – it isn’t required of any of us to be the same people we were yesterday (or even ten minutes ago). Drop old ideas, beliefs, and concepts that no longer serve you, and let yourself be brand new.
Be flexible, friends. Feel the power in recreating yourself over and over, and as much as you’d like.
Here’s to starting again.