You Are Not the Sound, But the Echo

Several years ago, I took a few days to retreat in Northwest Arkansas, spending time reading and reflecting in a small cabin above the White River. One morning, this phrase came to my mind: You are not the sound, but the echo…Not the thing itself, but the reflection of it.

I spent time just thinking about what that meant to me. I realized that I tend to think of myself as very solid. The reality is that I am (we all are) ever-changing. Physically I am aging and what I call “me” now, is very different from the “me” when I was 6. How many cells are actually the same cells that made up that “me”? And in terms of my perspective, I’m also constantly evolving.

This idea of my being more like an echo or a reflection, served as a reminder to soften my firmly held view of who I am, what I am, what I think is right…to allow a bit of light and space in.

A calm body of water surrounded by trees. Text: You are not the sound, but the echo. Not the thing itself, but the reflection of it.

Recently I found myself in a situation where another person was responding to me in ways I could not understand. Their behavior changed  abruptly and I found it very confusing and disorienting, but I did not have any information about why they had changed. I started filling in the gaps with what I thought might have occurred. I then responded to them based on my own “solid” storyline about what was happening.

When my response didn’t get the results I hoped for, I started to form a narrative about myself with critical statements like “See, you haven’t made any progress at all” and even “What a fraud you are!”

I realized that this situation was kind of like a reflection in a lake where the water is choppy. There is nothing solid about it. I cannot see it clearly because I am not looking at the whole picture, only what I can see from this vantage point. And that vantage point is at times clouded by my own experiences and anxieties.

So maybe my reactions were not optimal? That’s not ME. That’s a reaction and behavior that I can learn from and change the next time.

Some you win and some you learn.
Rajesh Tailang – Babul, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

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