I am sitting on a beach at Newport, California. A kayak passes. It is red, long and narrow and obviously requires a great deal of skill to keep upright. The man powering this vessel is skinny, muscular and old. His weathered skin belies a seasoned life in the outdoors. He is bare-chested and wears a funny cowboy hat…also worn. Who is he, I wonder? What is his story? I wonder how much of who he thinks he is, is colored by his personal story-line, his history. I wonder if he had been born in another time, at another place, how his story-line would evolve. Would he experience himself differently? How would that affect his sense of personal identity? Who is he really?
It seems to me that the search for identity begins at birth. It is the relationship between child and parent that initially forms our sense of self-worth and value in life. What happens after that?
The world steps in. We begin to form our sense of self, based on feedback from the world-at-large. We begin to create our sense of identity based on a storyline created by our interactions with the people and events around us. Our siblings, teachers, neighbors and friends all tell us who we are by our interactions with them. As our story unfolds, we graduate school, get a job, find romance, raise a family—all these events frame our personal histories. I just wonder if that’s who we really are? I believe that each of us have an essence with which we were born…a core being, regardless of what happens to us or what we do, that’s closer to our inner truth. I suspect that the closer we live our inner truth, our truer identity, the more we feel like ourselves. The more we feel like ourselves, the more fulfilled we are and the more at peace we’ll be.
When we raise our children to connect to their deeper selves, we raise children who have a greater sense of who they are…one not completely dependent on storylines. How do we do this? There is a simple way: when we connect our children to their own innate interests and talents, to their own creative processes, to their own internal sense of direction, then we have children who are connected to themselves. Children connected to themselves become adults who are connected to themselves, no matter where the current may take them. And isn’t that ultimately what we want for our children?