We are who we are. Or are we? We become what we can become, we realize possibilities that are available to us, that are within reaching distance. The tendrils of our hearts and minds curl around the persons who are biologically or become socially connected to us. We mold ourselves into shapes that fit those persons. If we don’t, we are socially inept, or emotionally dysfunctional, or loners.
The pace of most lives is so rhythmically steady that we don’t have the opportunity to stop and consider who else we could be, or could have been. The thought of a potential other Me can be exhilarating, can be terrifying. Reflecting on that other Me is a waste of time, isn’t it? Philosophical garbage, right?
It’s early January. We recently concluded my daughter’s winter break and a whole lot of togetherness. It’s beautiful and cozy togetherness, and it fills up all the empty spaces in your heart and mind until there is nothing else there. At times, I felt like I was in a lazy groundhog day with surround-television.
It’s Saturday evening right now. My husband took my daughter to a children’s event at the public library – because that’s what good parents do. He often does this, and gives me time to myself. I spend more time with my daughter during weekdays.
I just got home from the gym, where I have been spending more time than usual recently, and a quick trip to the grocery store for raspberries and grapefruit juice. I was surprised to find that my family wasn’t home yet. I dropped the groceries, prayed the evening prayer, and did not turn on the lights. The fairy lights – we call them Eid-Miladunnabi lights (it’s the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday on January 13) sparkled in the dark living room. It was utterly quiet. I sat there quietly, full of wonder at this unusual experience. A tranquil silence, no urgent tasks pending, and no other person.
When Svend and Raihana are not with me, I miss them. I feel incomplete. Right at this moment, though, I felt like I was peering from the darkness into a bright window of alternative possibility. Who could I be right now? In the silence, in the aloneness, there is another me that I might access.
Not for long. They are back home, and I have a 7-year old voracious reader leaning on my shoulder. So I’ll just pack away those possibilities – which are, after all, not – and savor what I’ve got right here.