(I’m still playing catch-up with the Pagan Blog Project posts at this point, so here goes the first “K”… only a couple of weeks behind!)
Quick, in one minute, write down ten words or phrases that describe your quintessential self. Come on, you can do it, I’ll even wait for you. Just write down the ten words that give the rest of the world the most complete and accurate description of yourself as possible. Adjectives, nouns, verbs… whatever works to describe yourself.
*hums the Jeopardy theme for one full minute*
Okay, how did you do? Were you able to quickly jot ten words down without having to give it a lot of thought? Or did you struggle, perhaps revising the list as you went or not finishing it at all? Or maybe you couldn’t find the first word? Did this little task seem simple or simply overwhelming?
If you struggled a bit, you’re not alone. A lot of us have difficulty with this one, but not always for the same reasons. Some us simply do not know ourselves well enough to boil it down to a few words… or we may have a life experience that is so broad that ten words are too few to narrow it down. Some of us have the opposite issue – our lives are so focused on a single aspect that this alone defines who we are (if you’re list looked like this: “1) Insert job title here” followed by nine blanks, this may apply to you). Others, myself included, may struggle with the part that says “give the rest of the world…” as there are parts of ourselves that are fundamental to who we are, yet may not be part of our public face. Regardless of whether you succeeded in coming up with ten words, you just spent an entire minute contemplating who you are and what makes you tick.
Paganism, at least as I’ve experienced it, requires that we know ourselves for who were are, what we value, what is core to our being. An eclectic path requires this a thousand-fold; it demands that we are constantly aware of own beliefs, our limitations, our expectations. It forces us to see both the positive and negative aspects of who we are (confession time: raise your hand if you intentionally skipped any negative descriptors in your list). For me, walking this pagan path makes me face myself with an honesty and openness that no other path would have permitted. I have a heightened awareness of what shapes me, what moves me, what drives me away.
I consider myself fairly self-aware, more so than average, but I struggled a bit with my own list. If our lists say something about our values and self-perception, mine must say that I don’t give my physical self high consideration, as I’ve left out any mention of that part of myself. I also chose to only list a single aspect of my health… and that was included only because it has such a profound impact on my day-to-day life and how I perceive the world that my life would be unrecognizable without the influence of this illness. I did include two items on my list that aren’t for public consumption, but I think I’ll save that discussion for my next post. In the meantime, feel free to share your lists if you like or to comment on mine.