But who are we? And how do we undo the ego built around selfhood, or let go of personal history or forget personal identity - our names and the roles that we play.
Authenticity. That's what we're always looking for. Or if we aren't looking for it, something in us longs to find it. And responds to it when we see it.
Over the last two days, I've also been reading a book: Several Short Sentences About Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg. He asks the reader to let go of the sense that writing flows - to build instead one sentence after another - simple short sentences - and to get used to thinking and observing but not always rushing to write things down.
As I write this, I'm in my library and looking at books - the books that Ben and I have accumulated over decades. Is this who I am? The person who has entertained these other ideas, these other writers and thinkers, who has read these things and absorbed them into my consciousness - or hoped to absorb them. Some books we don't choose to keep. Some get recycled or given away. Other books are treasured.
Maybe my selfhood at ten years old included the consciousness that would entertain the writers I have read and the pieces of writing I would ultimately try to write.
Right now, though, I'm a little stuck in my writing. Every day I've been writing around a particular confrontation - one I want to explore between two fictional characters. I'm working up to their interaction. I'm trying to invest it with truth - a truth of something that comes from deep inside. But it isn't coming easily.
I asked one of my yoga instructors on Friday if he had ever heard of Emotional Contagion. He seemed perplexed. Then I explained the concept - which comes from one of the books in this library by Elaine Hatfield, John T Cacioppo and Richard L Rapson. It hypothesizes that we are susceptible to mirroring the physical gestures of those with whom we interact, and in this way, we feel emotions which don't always belong to us. I have noticed often, whilst practicing yoga, that I am particularly susceptible to this phenomenon. Perhaps it's because we are in a Bikram class, and going through the same 26 postures together. But if I see somebody growing faint, or taking a break on their mat, I need to guard myself against doing the same. Often in a single class, several people will feel unable to continue - or they might even begin to leave the room. This seems to happen in waves, like dominoes. And when that happens it's hard to remember who it is you are inside, very hard not to follow the herd mentality.
When I started writing this blog post, these ideas seemed to hang together. Now that I've written them down, I'm not so sure they do. But since it's only a blog, I'll let it stand as is. Make the connections you want to make. Or don't.