Most of the time, I walk around fully and unconsciously associated with my thoughts, emotions, memories, and whatever my body is doing.
If I have a cold, “I am sick.”
If I get upset, “I am annoyed,” or if good things are happening, “I am happy.”
If I have fear-based future thoughts about how this or that thing is going to go, “I am worried.”
And that’s that. The die is cast, and I am completely given over to the whims of my thoughts, physical experience, and moods, because, after all, I am collapsed with those internal moods, emotions, and physical experiences.
About a week and a half ago, I noticed a tickle and scratch in my throat. I don’t get sick often, so I wrote it off and kept plugging along. Then it got a little worse, and got a little worse, and then there I was with a true-blue cough. And then a sinus thing. And then more cough. Turns out, I was sick! (At the time, it was, “I am sick!”)
In the past, “being sick” with a cold would have thrown me into a way of being that included automatic lethargy, not bringing myself fully to any activity that required effort, looking “passable” but also pitiful at any given time, bowing out of commitments without a lot of thought…after all, I was sick! None of this was premeditated. It was just how it went. Sick = all that.
This time, as I coughed and spluttered, I thought about how I go around that I am what’s going on with me internally. But…then I wondered, “Who am I, REALLY?” What might be there if I uncollapse “me” with how I feel physically?
I thought I’d try and see for myself who I was in my “sick” experience.
I decided to have a cold/cough, instead of being sick.
As each day went by, hour by hour, occasion by occasion, I simply assessed, over and over.
“I have a cold. Does that mean I can’t bring myself fully to this next occasion?”
“I have a cold. And what else is present? Who do I want to be in/for this conversation?”
In almost every case, I saw that I could move forward and be fully present, open to what was also so, besides the fact of having a cold. It was astounding.
Sometimes, in my looking and seeing as the days went by, I did need to adjust. I slept instead of going to the gym early in the mornings. I cancelled a few coffee and lunch appointments with friends and colleagues. But most things stayed on the books, because when I looked, there really wasn’t anything that prevented me from showing up fully, especially since I was working from home, using my phone and video conference for meetings.
And I have to say, it ended up being the most delightful and productive “sick” time I can ever remember! I know that made a difference in the quality of my work, my relationships, and my impact on the spaces I was in.
So, as it turns out I am not my cold. I am not my thoughts, emotions, memories and physical state.
And I also now have a lived experience—a glimpse—of who I am, REALLY!