No Part of Me
No inner voices, lost and broken pieces, only me
This is the first, wildest and wisest thing I know, that the soul exists, and that it is built entirely out of attentiveness. —Mary Oliver
“Do you think you’re broken?”
Her question hits me like a bolt from the blue. She sees things I cannot see, has a knack for touching what’s invisible to me.
“What? No…” I reply. “But a part of me used to…”
“Hold on,” she says, cutting me off. “Can you give me a yes-or-no? No buts, no explanations?”
I smile and nod. We’ve played this game before: “Top of Mind”, an inquiry into what is present for me in this instant, nothing more, no explanations, qualifications, or defenses. Just what I see in this moment.
“Do you think you’re broken?”
My mouth responds, reaches a second time for ‘No.’ Then something stronger, urgent, swells in my throat, pulls back reluctant lips.
“Yes,” I say, half disbelieving myself, but it rings as true to my ears as the bronze singing bowl above my desk at home. My cheeks flush, an ache blooms in my chest.
I can’t believe it.
I thought of myself as healed, cured of all that drama from way back when. Shit. I’m broken; a part of me is still broken.
How can that be?
The next afternoon, I am driving back to Seattle to catch my flight home. I play the recording of our session, and listen to my revelation and our discussion of my broken parts.
As I listen, I notice myself repeating the phrase, “… a part of me feels … a part of me believes … a part of me …” It sounds like I am some kind of boarding house for lost or forgotten parts of me.
My attention falls inward. The penny begins to drop.
Suddenly, I understand—there are no parts, broken or otherwise, even though the ache in my heart seems real. And the one who once believed he was the lost shards of a shattered being? Can’t be. No inner critic, no inner child, no inner nobody. No parts.
Now that penny fully lands and a window opens. There’s only me, this one awareness. I am this river of experience, and all the bits it carries on its journey, an endless current of thought and feeling—first gasping breath, summer dog-days, howling winter nights, final welcome to the sea. There’s only this one moment, in this river.
And me? The simplest answer I can find and feel is that I am the awareness of it all, I am the I am, the thinker of the thoughts.
I am a child of Thought but not the thoughts themselves. I am. This. And this. And this. Only wholeness, flowing awareness which grants me the gift of experiencing anything imagination can conjure.
The recording ends and I am floating down the river, witnessing the passing of my broken parts. An ordinary man driving a car to an ordinary airport, experiencing the sublime, the freedom that comes with understanding.
The highway bends gently to the east. The moon, just up, is skipping across the snowy peaks of the distant Cascade Range. Keeping pace, dancing, guiding me home.
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