When I was young, my parents told me I could be anything I wanted to be.
Though that may have been true to some reasonable extent, the comment was hardly helpful. Freedom to choose is a burden. So I looked to and listened to those who went before me, people I respected, for insight.
As a promising student with some ability to explain what I know, teachers and parents of troubled students saw in me a teacher.
As a student of general sciences and arts who came to math class to relax, one professor suggested I might be a mathematician.
While a student of mathematics, I once wrote a letter to the editor for the university's newspaper. A mathematics professor and role model read it, then suggested I might truly be a writer.
At the end of a summer internship program in mathematics, I presented complex findings before colleagues and a distinguished collection of interested professional mathematicians. My style was lighthearted, leading more than one to suggest that I might always have a future in stand-up comedy.
Having taken on difficult personalities and settled complex arguments, it was suggested by a friend that I should be a diplomat.
With a penchant for conflict and argument, many have told me I should be a lawyer.
The examples continue today...
Rarely did anyone else's label for me stick, and presumably there are not enough years for me in this lifetime to pursue each person's suggestion regarding what I might become. Still there is the nagging question: How is it that on my arrival at each state, an ambassador from the inner circle is there to suggest that I am in the wrong place or on the wrong Path?
Who am I? Perhaps in the present I am your reflection. Depending upon the day, your mood, or maybe even the alignment of the stars, you see in me either what is missing in you or what you believe are your favorite aspects of your self. I am what you love, what you admire, or what you disdain, what you hate. I am a kindred spirit, a friend, a facilitator, an obstacle, a necessary evil, or even an adversary. Looking back, perhaps you see in me your own past, imagining me walking your Path toward your present. Looking forward perhaps you see yourself on my Path, standing in my place in your future.
If I am your reflection, then surely you are mine as well. Then in each of you I have seen my own doubt where there should have been none. Perhaps you were telling me that I was more than you had expected, but what I heard was that I was less.
For whatever the reason from within you, you were inspired to comment; and, for whatever the reason, I was open to consider it. Regardless, somehow at that moment our energies had blended and all were affected. A butterfly had flapped its wings...
"I hear what I want to hear." The words of my grandmother, who obstinately resisted adoption of hearing aids early on, seem oddly apropos. More accurately though: "I hear what I need to hear."
Who am I? Thankfully, things are becoming clearer over time.
I am not any one of those things; I am in one way or another all those things and more. I am simply me.
You and I are like drops of water, made of the same stuff, essentially indistinguishable whether within a cloud, as raindrops, or within a lake. In the end, evaporating from the lake, we will not be remembered as mist that took the form of a raindrops and fell into the lake; rather, we will be remembered as the energy that spreads as waves through the lake as a result---how for a moment the lake was different than either the moment just before or the moment just afterward as a result of our time within it.