It was my 50th birthday this week.
Last week I met a friend whom I had not seen for a year and I found myself saying “none of us is getting any younger!”
Luckily my friend questioned my words by saying “I feel I am getting younger!”
His reply made me think about the identity I was reinforcing with my comment. I was reinforcing an identity based on a body that will die one day. An identity trapped in flesh that is ageing. A fear based identity.
Obviously it does not serve to deny grey hair and wrinkles. But what is happening inside when you get concerned about signs of ageing? When you look in the mirror and you are worried about your reflection, is it helpful to just simply say :“I am not a body. I am free?”*
I have certainly found it helpful to realise what is happening inside when I have the slightest bit of concern about getting older: I have associated my feelings with what is happening to my body and so I am confused.
My feelings are a consequence of my choice of identity. An identity that believes it is a body, is an identity that is separate, limited and attracted to death. A negative reaction to an ageing body reinforces a limited identity. I want to make that identity real because I have chosen it. I believe I am a separate identity because I am not ready to remember my true identity.
When we are not willing to question our choice of identity we may rush off to the gym or research the latest products to look younger. Then fear has won, and experiencing our true identity has been delayed again. But there are moments when the pain is too much and we finally admit to ourselves that trying to distract ourselves from the problem doesn’t work. So we ask for help to look at the identity that we are trying to protect.
Remembering my true identity is beyond ageing, time and a body is a big step. It is the step that repeating “I am not a body. I am free” as a mantra, tries to make. We may not be ready for that realisation (although it only takes an instant) but we certainly can be aware of what identity we are reinforcing with our words and our thoughts. Then we need to decide if we want to continue or ask for help to have an experience of our true identity.
Temptation has one lesson it would teach, in all its forms, wherever it
occurs. It would persuade the holy Son of God he is a body, born in what must die, unable to escape its frailty, and bound by what it orders him to feel. It sets the limits on what he can do; its power is the only strength he has; his grasp cannot exceed its tiny reach. Would you be this, if Christ appeared to you in all His glory, asking you but this: Choose once again if you would take your place among the saviors of the world, or
would remain in hell, and hold your brothers there. T-31.VIII.1-5
*Two of the most frequently repeated sentences in A Course in Miracles