When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. Lao Tzu
Can who we *think we are* define who we are and what we could become?
Are our limits really, truly self imposed?
Or worse, adopted, chosen and believed because someone somewhere at sometime said something or implied something that we heard, internalized and believed to be true about ourselves?
We say boldly and broadly, or candidly and fearfully “but this is who I am”.
What is the truth in all this? Then we have moments of clarity or grief or change and we can often discover that we are more than we thought or that who we had identified with is actually a very fragile concept.
I’m about to give birth and I have been thinking about that incredible process. Remembering the first time through this and how I felt that “there was nothing left in the tank” part way through that process --- only to discover a deep wellspring of energy, consciousness and pain tolerance the moment I surrendered to the process, admitted that I was “all out of juice” and let go of the how I thought I would “handle” the whole thing.
And in that moment, I was much more than I ever thought I could be. Much much much more. That moment, and the many motherhood moments that followed have become constant reminders that I am much much more than I ever thought I was or could be.
Or backcountry camping… same thing. Gruelling moments of walking kilometers into a deep wet or cold or hot bush with no cell service and often not seeing anyone else but your partners for hours. 32 km hikes that leave your feet aching, your body numb and your mind clear - so freaking clear it seems worth every single second.
On each hike there is a moment when I feel like I come to the end of myself. I used to dread the steps, ups and downs that took me to that moment cause they suck the worst. Seriously, the worst. Now, I find myself quietly acknowledging the suck, leaning into it a little more, breathing a little deeper, allowing my steps to slow to what feels more natural to take on the gross feeling within my body… knowing it won’t last forever. And it never does.
This year, I felt some fear with that feeling. “What if this level of exercise hurts the baby? What if it's too much? What if I can’t handle it?”. Truth is, we had to adjust some of our expectations for hikes this year or we had to slow the pace. Neither one were things I handled well (lol!). But, there were also times where I felt great, and my body responded as such…. And I leaned into it. My body responded to my want, no - need, to push forward, and I had an incredible time. My baby belly shifting up to allow more room for my legs to walk. The way my body found a new rhythm, a new pace; but only and after I allowed myself to lean into the space, energy level and body shape that I currently am. Only after I let go of “who I was on the trail last year” and allowed myself to be “who I could be, moment by moment, this year on the trail.”
Last summer was all about healing. Leaving years of pain, mental abuse, old ideas, old loves, old pains on the side of the mountain. It was so therapeutic. This year, the overwhelming theme was trusting my body again. Forgiving my body for the moments it didn’t deliver the results of who I wanted to be. In the mirror, in energy level, in delivering my first baby, in the inability to lose those “last 5 lbs”.
I had a startling and humbling moment when I realized that I had been carrying around this distrust of my body, this feeling that my body had let me down somehow. It brought me to tears and I found myself speaking softly to my body - asking it and myself for forgiveness. I’ve been very hard on myself.
And while I feel that taking radical responsibility for my choices, my life and holding myself to a high internal standard matters for my own personal feelings of achievement or success is still important… I am now learning to let go of who I am and what I think I should be or how I think I should be behaving in this moment, moment by moment, instead leaning into or being open to allowing myself to simply, BE.
I’ve carried those breakthroughs into my day to day and am often reminded - when I lean into the unknown, or when I let go of what I know, think, feel and believe to be open to all of what, who and how I could be - I am always amazed at the depth of what is and what is beyond the construct that I have limited myself to being, knowing, seeing, thinking, imagining and experiencing.
When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.