The topic made me recoil and giggle with embarassment


It reminded me of an uncomfortable morning in my meditation class when I was battling depression, rejection from my birth family and hostile disapproval from my soon to be divorced marital one.

The guru was a lady who had a calm and happy expression on her face as she played with her long hair and she said, “Get to know the person you are.”

Who was I?  The child who had once been the recipient of approval from her mother for excellence in academics.

Well the same mother felt shamed by the fact that the same daughter had thrown her husband out of her marital home.

The father had stood by and tried to pacify the warring women in his life.  His wife who was so worried about image and society and the other his daughter who did not care.  She just wanted to wash her hands off the failing marriage.

You are a mother, they said.  You need to stay in the marriage to give your children a stable home.

Stable home?  Where we fought bitterly every minute we were together?

Was I a good mother?  Was I “the self” a mother?

Who was I?

The tomboy who played with strays and brought them home … a animal lover?

I had not been allowed to even keep a goldfish in my marital home.

Who was I?

The child who loved to play boyish games?

Or the mother who taught her two sons to play them?

Get to know your self, the woman said …

I got up and shrugged mutinously.  I even wanted to punch the serenity off her face.  I wanted to rake my nails on those smooth cheeks, draw blood even

I got up and walked out of class.  Then I walked on the roads for a couple of hours thinking

Who am I?

And then it struck me, just when I was sweaty grimy and tired …

The past is immaterial, its gone, dead.

The present is a thorny chair, uncomfortable to sit on.

But the future is there … time enough to build the self I want myself to be.

The next day I was back in class with a firm resolve

I told her : I think you got it all wrong.  I am a plain sheet of paper.  On this paper I will chose to write the words I want to.  To paint the picture I want to.  I do not want to remember the self I was.  I will from today build the self I want me to be.

She smiled. And then she simply said, “Don’t forget to take your older self with you, she will feel lonely and hurt if you reject her.  Love her, she is a part of the newer you.”
This is in response to WEEK #54 (5-27-12 to 6-2-12): Self at BGE2



50 thoughts on “Self

  1. Like master Oogway said.. Yesterday’s a mystery, tomorrow’s a mystery. Today is a gift, which is we call it the present. I like the resolve you made, and what your guru said. Kudos

  2. My gracious, this is profound on so many levels! The resilience it took for you to consider yourself a blank sheet of paper! Absolutely! Because, yes, we absolutely can and must move on from difficult times and mistakes. They don’t define us. Good for you.

    And good for her for that gentle nudge. The one that said to keep going forward but to also not forget your past.


    I loved this. Thanks for sharing it.


    • At that juncture in life – it was a valuable and necessary lesson to learn. I am ever so grateful to her for pointing me in the right direction

  3. Wonderful post! Everywhere we’ve been, every encounter we’ve had, all of our experiences, joyful or painful–they are all a part of who we are. It’s what we do with them, how we internalize it all, and how we grow from it that matters…and you said it: we choose. We build it.

    • Yes it is a conscious choice. As Buddha used to say, live mindfully. He even said breathe mindfully. I learnt that life, to be lived fully, has to be lived consciously. One has to make the choice

    • Thanks Sangitha. They say, when the time is right, the teacher appears. For me it actually did happen that day

  4. Wow I needed to read this. I am in a stage in life where age is catching on me and career is still being built and yet society sees it as an age where my childhood friends have kids and I have soo many dreams left to built my ‘self’….thanks for writing this

    And I am so proud of the person you are for you indeed lived up to your resolve 🙂

    • The only time you are too late to do anything is when you are dead!
      That is when you are out of time. Otherwise, one is never too late to achieve one’s goals

    • Thanks Kathy. We can be, if we get rid of all the unnecessary baggage we lug around. Then wonderful things happen

  5. Ritu this was so personal and so profound. You are truly a woman I admire for your courage to walk out of a marriage despite the social pressures. It never ceases to amaze me that it’s the mothers in India who seem to value society’s opinion so much – not generalizing, but I’ve seen it happen with so many of my friends. Not too many people (men included) have the guts to fight to be themselves. I applaud you for this.

    • Thanks Corinne. Its been a life well lived, with its ups and downs. … and so much better because it was not fake. I lived it on my own terms. At least the compromises I made were the compromises I wanted to make, and the relationships I built were the ones I wanted, not the ones foisted on me

  6. So very important to first of all KNOW who you were and then who you want to be. Those are two vital and hard things to define and then accept and finally to move toward.
    What a gift that instructor gave you. You did very well with it. Excellent post and excellent advice.

    • Thank you Jo. Yes it was a time in life when I was totally shattered. I had two small kids and no family support. But the teacher I had somehow made me dig into myself for strengths I did not think I had.

  7. I beleive that we cant change the past so why wrry about it , its gone TOdAY is the day when we can make a difference or at least try to make a change .. who cares of future we dont know if it will come also

    so what is vital is to know what you going ot do TODAY who you are today or what is it that you will od today what will make a change in future

    • I believe its all in the mind. I see so many people living in yesterday, I see others living for tomorrow. I think the mind has no concept of time. So live every moment consciously and mindfully and one can live a happy life

    • Thank you Sharon. Unnecessary baggage has to be dumped to begin afresh, otherwise one keeps lugging it around.

  8. Thats simply gr8! Every now and then i have the habit of clinging to the wrong meted out to me in the past..those grudges in close relationships and those clashes in expectations..Even when i try to forget them they appear now and then like bad dreams..I initially used to think if the other person who hurt me apologized for it the hurt will be gone and i will start to heal..It applies only partially..It is only in the mind that one can change! Forgiveness is not for the other person’s is a selfish act!For one’s own sake..

    • True. Carrying past hurts and brooding on them just gives them more power. Forgive and move on. Forgiving does not mean forgetting. If we forget, then we allow the same thing to happen once again. Forgiving the other reduces the power of the deed to hurt.

  9. That’s a wise teacher. She let you find your way and then gently reminded you that we are who we are because of where we came from, even if the road ahead is very different and holds no room for what we were. Lovely post. –

    • Yes, and she had a glow, an inner radiance and an air of serenity. That inner radiance can not be duplicated by all the cosmetics in the world! And she, in her soft spoken way, could drive a lesson home

  10. Wonderful post…thanks for taking me on your journey. In some respects, I know how you feel. Stay strong…the ride may be rough at times, but the destination will be well worth it!

  11. This was a fantastic blog and it has been a pleasure visiting. Your guru is right, you gotta love that self from the past. She needs a hug from you. Right on, change can start today! You have to live your life for yourself and not your mother. She just doesn’t understand, but I do. Take care, and best wishes for your “today” and your “tomorrow!”

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