In the second week after my first chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer, I began to lose my hair. Like a white angora cat, I shed hairs everywhere: on my clothing, in the shower drain, on my chair, in my hairbrush. Sometimes they drifted down onto my shoulders like cherry blossoms in the springtime; other times they clumped like small snowdrifts on my pillow. All of it strangely fascinating to me, as if they were bits of my identity falling away, freeing me even further at a soul level.
That may seem an odd way to view it; yet the process feels symbolic of a larger shedding that occurs as I clear out the clutter of a lifetime of identities. To be human is to move through many experiences and identities. I used to gather identities like flowers in a basket (flower child, activist, feminist, lesbian, writer, editor, spiritual seeker), feeling glad that I was eclectic and not tied to any one self-identification. I felt freer that way. As the years went by and my spiritual practice expanded, I began to realize that freedom is a much more expansive designation when viewed from the soul’s perspective.
The soul is pure being. It has no identity in the way we think of that term. The soul comes into physical form to experience life as a human and to evolve and expand its beingness. It has no attachment to any one identification we may claim as we pass through our lives. When we begin to drop attachments to particular identities, the soul moves to the forefront of our experience. We begin to experience being in an entirely new way. And we see more clearly, and intensely, the world we are passing through here on Earth.
I first experienced this “dropping” of identity when years ago (2005), I was invited to travel to Guatemala with Maya elders Mercedes and Gerardo to participate in ceremonies at sacred sites there. I was both honored and excited because the Mayan cosmology held great meaning for me. However, the “gateway” I had to pass through was the fact that women traditionally wear long dresses at every ceremony. As a lesbian feminist, I had not worn a dress in 30 years; consequently I found my attachment to that particular identity being challenged. In my heart, I knew there was no way that I would ever turn down such a precious invitation from the elders. So that meant opening to a different way of being in the world. At the time, I experienced this as a complete falling away of who I had been before and going to Guatemala “naked” at the soul level. I honored the Maya tradition by wearing a beautiful long skirt, and in the process, I stepped into magical interdimensional experiences at the sacred ceremonies, beyond language and definitely beyond identity.
As I continued on my soul journey over the years, I found that the more I dropped identification with any identity at all, the more I experienced a beingness without beginning or end …. and the more I knew God, or Spirit, in a way I never had before. Ultimately, I came to understand that the final realization is that all identity is an illusion. Our identities are merely the costumes, or disguises, that we put on for this human ride; when we take them off, all that remains is Spirit.
So this is where I am now. Yet another identity falling away with the hair on my head. Perhaps one of the last identifications and attachments: to my physical form and what I look like. Once again, soul-naked before the universe. One definition of the word bald is “undisguised” or “unveiled.” The process of life often removes our protective veils and disguises if we don’t do it ourselves. Either way, it is liberation for the soul. I can feel that. To live my life as pure spirit, unfiltered and free. It is our collective human destiny to shed identity and shine the light of soul presence in this world.
10 thoughts on “Shedding”
You get right to heart of the matter! Wow.
Peg, you have the right perspective, I think, to endure this latest blow to your psyche. Life is a long and interesting trip, isn’t it? -With lots of twists and turns- some of them in directions we never chose to go. Be the warrior now and get the cancer out of your life.
Sending love and big big hugs.
Thanks Helen! ❤
Wow, Peggy, I just read this aloud to Dusty and we both have such respect and appreciation for your openness to what is transpiring. You have such a beauty that shines through, that will be even more visible when there is not the distraction of looking at your perfectly shaped hairstyle! I was so caught by the line “I used to gather identities like flowers in a basket…!” Isn’t that the truth…and then in retirement there is less and less importance to an identity/definition and much more asking each day what it holds and where and how to be love in action or inaction….Blessings every step of the way.
Dorothy & Dusty, Thank you so much for your beautiful comment! Especially love your last sentence about “asking each day what it holds.” Yes, truly blessings! This week I am appreciating the blessing of warm winter hats to keep my head warm in the next few months! Love to you both! ❤
Maybe you must someday shed your identity as writer, but the impact of your writing in this post is very valuable to me and other readers.
Thanks so much Deb. ❤
Another beautiful, thoughtful word poem, Peggy. Sending hugs. Your hair will grow back, but your heart will stay ten sizes larger!
Thank you Dari! ❤