I have been dipping in and out of the wonderful book, Sailing Home: Using Homer’s Odyssey to Navigate Life’s Perils and Pitfalls by Norman Fischer. Opening it at random today I found this passage:
Few of us are willing to actually be ourselves. Mostly, we deny, berate, or ignore ourselves, preferring self-deception, judgementalism, or just plain oblivion. Being ourselves involves awareness and acceptance of our craftiness and our imperfection-and this awareness tames us, so that we can understand and appreciate our quirks and the quirks of others. It gives a broader, deeper perspective.
Perfection is not our spiritual goal. We do not aspire to be Nobody. We are and need to be Somebody, wily and crafty enough to interact with others, but avoiding the risk of puffing ourselves up and becoming swollen and blind with self-concern. But to be Somebody in a balanced way, without overdoing it, we need to appreciate the experience of being Nobody from time to time.
To be Nobody is not to enter some fantiastic condition of egolessness. It is simply to be willing and able, when it is time, to drop the self, to let Somebody go and surrender to circumstances. We do this as a discipline when we give ourselves over in meditation or in prayer. We do it too, in those rare but always absorbing moments of abandonment that can come in art or work or love. We might need to do it at any moment of living- to let go on a moment’s notice of what we think we are and what we think we want, and be willing to turn around on a dime, trusting what comes instead of evaluating and resisting it. To be Nobody is to float on the ocean of stories with faith, and without thrashing around too much, willing to wait for the proper current to take us where we need to go.