So then this funny thing happens. I've kicked myself to the curb and then spend a week in the curb, kicking myself some more because its familiar and easy. When I look at my track record of "accomplishments as a responsible, middle age male American", I fall way short (or so I believe): no college degree, no career track, no high powered anything, no zest to make fistfuls of money, no . . . interest in living up to expectations. Yeah. That's it.
I stop kicking myself. I'm doing time in the gutter and I'm looking at the cars, dreaming. Beliefs. Here I go again. It's this antiquated belief system. I know that. I KNOW that. Always have. But what does that really mean? Easy to say my belief system's broken and faulty, but then what? Bill S says beliefs are stories we tell ourselves, made up fictions of who we think we are. They're not real. Kathleen R says surely I have some healthy and beautiful beliefs about myself. Bill, I know. Kathleen, not so much.
But it gets me thinking, you know? In a world where I feel so small, I can't stop thinking big right now.What if I just jettison all my beliefs. Right here and right now. No more. Bye bye. Who-hoo, see ya. From this moment I have no beliefs about myself.
Then the notion of roles comes front and center. See how that happens? I am a father, husband, writer, son, brother, musician, friend, coworker, staff accountant II (really???) and I can add a dozen more from all the years of my life. Those roles define me, define all of us and tell us who we are based on our understanding of those roles. As a father I am this. as a son, I am that. As a writer, I'm this and that and the other thing over there. In other words, all these roles come with expectations of who I should be as a father, as a writer, as a husband.
But wait! There's been a slaughter here! That's right, kids, if the beliefs go, so do the expectations of my roles. Slaughter them all! I'm still all those things, but once I remove the expectations of each role, I'm left with ...
Hear that? It's an explosion of a supernova's worth of expectations in the vacuum of space. Don't hear it? Of course you don't. There is no sound in space!
But I digress.
Take away all the beliefs and all the expectations and all the defined roles (though still being those roles) and who am I?
If you took away all your beliefs about yourself and let go of what's expected of you because of each of your roles, who would you be? You'd still be a parent, spouse, worker and whatever else, but if you were sitting on a mountain by yourself with no responsibilities to anyone but yourself, who would you be?