When Elly is scared by something I always say the same thing. I’ve said it for as long as he’s been talking. It goes like this:
Elly: This is scary.
Harry: Well, it’s a good thing I’m here.
It always works. Just pointing out that I’m with him makes him feel better. It’s a good reminder.
I need to remind myself sometimes.
I need to remind myself because I play roles. And I don’t like some of the roles I play, so I need to remind myself that it’s me who’s playing those roles and it’s me who can stop playing them. And the way to remember this is to look for myself within those roles. Because I’m there.
It’s easy to find myself in some roles.
I am a father. That’s just how it is. Like the color of my eyes. Like my height. Like my birthday. It will be true for as long as this life lasts, and probably longer. It’s just a fact of who I am at this point. So it’s easy to find myself.
I’m also the guy who laughs in some of my yoga classes. I laugh and I make smartass comments because I love those classes.
There are other roles I play that aren’t so helpful. Roles I play that make me bitter. Or angry. Or just make me feel sorry for myself.
And I’m in those roles too. The same person.
But they are distortions. I am covered up by malas, or encased in klippot (husks or shells that cover up the Light within us and in the world–you have to look it up yourself because I couldn’t find a good link. Maybe this will help. I dunno. It starts out about trees, but I didn’t listen to the whole thing. Sue me.)
Being a father or the guy who laughs while I practice yoga are openings into myself. They are connections. To myself and Everything Else. To the moment. To my path forward. They are exactly the opposite of the malas and klippot.
The roles that I play that make me upset are external. They are there to try to please someone else because, in effect, they are just being a Harry-shaped aspect of someone else. They are based on me, but they aren’t who I am. I can only be who I am if I remember I am here.
And, yeah, I can’t like every role I play as much as I like being a father or the guy laughing in yoga class. I have to go to work and be the guy who does my job and all that, and the guy who does the dishes and takes out the garbage. But those are responsibilities in which I can be completely present.
We all put roles on other people. All the time. We do it because we’re afraid.
We are afraid of so much. And it’s important to remind each other that we’re here.
Not our hopes and dreams about each other.
Thich Nhat Hanh teaches four mantras to help us remind each other of this:
My Beloved, I am here for you.
My Beloved, I know you are there and it makes me happy.
My Beloved, I know you suffer and I am here for you.
My Beloved, I am suffering and I need your help.
It’s a good thing we’re here.