Who Am I? Nobody or Just Me – That’s Who!

I stumbled upon a lovely Moldovan violinist (Patricia Kopatchinskaja) on YouTube, then watched a documentary about her yesterday.

She said something at the end of the documentary, which was so astonishing to me. She claims she’s not a “real violinist”. Yet, she plays all over the world, is a tour de force wild-child, and is so full of energy while playing I watch her in bewilderment. She takes risks with music that others dare not, and sometimes the result is heart-stoppingly beautiful and sometimes the result is a flop.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been agonizing over “who am I” and “where is this going”? (Which is a recurring theme according to my FB timeline…) This theme in its current incarnation is regarding being an herbalist, a Chinese Medicine practitioner, a teacher, an employee, and everything in between.

More often than not I think to myself, “I am not a real herbalist” then proceed to list all of the reasons why not (they typically entail comparing myself to others in this field who have made this their life’s work). Nor am I a “real (insert what I do for my 9-5 here)” (I never intended to do this work, but it suits me quite well for now), a “real teacher”, or a “real artist”, or a “real violinist”, or a “real cook”, or a “real wife”. I don’t even think I’m a “real meditator”. Whatever all of these statements mean beyond “I clearly have too much time on my hands”, I don’t know… I do know that this yields the answer: if I am not a “real” anything, I must be nobody.

I’m not from Brooklyn, nor am I anymore from upstate NY; I’m not from RI or NM, where I spent my formative young-adult years. I do know that Brooklyn feels as much home as both of my upstate NY homes, and RI and NM feel like fond child-hood neighborhood homes.  Yet, I don’t see myself staying in Brooklyn “for the rest of my life”. So I am from nowhere.

I don’t know where my herbal work and Chinese Medicine studies will take me, nor do I know where my meditation, music, art and life-in-general will be taking me either.  I guess I’m going nowhere.

To quote/summarize Patricia, “I am nobody. I am just me. I’m doing what I am compelled to do.”

It’s kind of freeing isn’t it?

To not be pigeonholed into being that one thing that others can define you by. You can do exactly what your Heart tells you, you can grow in whichever direction that leads you forward in a way that your Heart tells you and that is exactly what you should be doing: because you are simply you, following your Heart. 

So when my Zen friends talk about being no body, going no where, doing no thing – I feel this is part of the puzzle they are speaking of.  I used to get upset about this statement “I’m no body, going no where, doing no thing.” But now, I might be getting it – a little.  The other part of the puzzle is realized upon the meditation cushion, and often forgotten about when the navel-gazing has gone on for too long.

So when asked who you are, you can say “I am nobody” or “I am just me, doing what I am compelled to do.” 

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