How to describe your essence – the reality at the centre of your being?
It’s difficult, for beautiful states are not best served by words. Who, after all, can describe the scent of a hyacinth?
While an interviewer once asked the dancer Pavlova what her dance meant.
‘If I could speak it, I wouldn’t have danced it,’ she replied.
People paint pictures, compose music and sculpt stone because words are inadequate for the expression of profounder truths.
What chance of words describing our essence, therefore?
We have one ace in our pack, however – our experience. We know this creature already. We sense inside ourselves this prowling lion of powerful possibility.
Our essence, or our substantial self, is not an abstract and elusive idea like some portrayals of heaven. Rather, it is something we already know. We have all experienced our essence, and are acquainted with some of its attributes.
We may wish to know it better, but we are certainly acquainted.So as we contemplate it now, we’ll be struck by significant recognition.
For our essence is like a vast expanse of water, a reservoir of attributes like warmth, kindness, empathy, clarity, intelligence, steadfastness, subtlety, openness, curiosity, courage, detachment, justice, spaciousness, contentment, depth, initiative, identity and generosity.
These are startling qualities and the primary energies within us.
But like graffiti scrawled across a masterpiece, secondary energies, created by our personalities, often overwhelm us.
Energies like despair, pride, judgement, negativity, shame, resentment, separation, anger, fear, vanity, cynicism, jealousy, depression and anxiety have their own bleak force within us.
We learnt these things well when young, and unlearning childhood lessons is difficult, (so we’ll be kind to ourselves). But these energies, which can be a terrible force, remain secondary to who we are.
Primary to who we are is our essence.
To seek, glimpse, breathe and touch our essence is the most fruitful of meetings.
We breathe our true selves…a daily and quite possible epiphany.
(The substance of this piece is taken from my book, ‘The Journey Home’,published by Bloomsbury.)