Loss of Identity — My Documents And Me

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Losing my bag with all my documents in it was a shameful, disempowering experience. When I was writing about loss of identity in a spiritual sense, this was not what I meant!

This week one of the most miserable experiences known to ‘modern man’ happened to me — I lost my bag with all my documents in it. At a stroke, I became disenfranchised in more ways than I cared to count — no longer able to prove my residence in the country I live in, to drive a car, to gain access to my own money, or even to talk to somebody about gaining access to my money (the string of figures needed to enable me to speak to a human being, you guessed it, was in the bag). The locks on my office would need to be changed, everything applied for and paid for all over again. My plans were turned upside down.

I found the experience not only completely disempowering, but shameful. I felt ashamed to have “lost myself”, and disoriented by the feeling that I was actually losing my memory and my mind itself. The sense of basic security I have in the world was connected to the fact that I know certain things — whether I had my bag or not when I left the car, whether I locked the car on both sides or not. I was also free to concentrate on whatever I want to do, safe in the knowledge that when I needed to use some numbers to connect with the ‘external world’, I knew just where they were — all together in one place so I didn’t need to think about it.

Until that one place disappeared. And with it, my sense of trust in myself, and in other people too, as I pondered worse case scenarios. When I was writing about the ultimate loss of the sense of self and personal identity on a spiritual level — this was not what I meant! So — is the spiritual level of consciousness only available to me when I have all my documents in order and am able to function in society and feed myself? Is it a question of levels, one building on the top of the other, and can I accept as more basic a reality of form-filling and organisation that I instinctively hate? Or would spiritual consciousness and the awareness of no separate identity just be easier in a society without all these cards and numbers, without the constant need to identify myself?

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I am not sure what the answer is. But I know that when I found out that my bag had been found by a kind person (where I thought it must be! Not going so crazy after all), the relief at having regained my time and energy was immense. I immediately went for a walk in the sparkling snow, and wondered “what was all that about?”

What I should be doing now, obviously, is writing down duplicates of those numbers in places I can remember, putting my work keys in a different place, sorting out some kind of system to protect myself as best I can against the aftermath of all the things that can ‘just happen’ to us all and frequently do. But what I actually did, before sitting down here to share the experience with you, was to go for that walk, then sit down on the porch, pick up a pen and paper and give myself some totally directionless, un-organised time. It was a kind of re-connection to times (in childhood) when my life was not dependent on numbers (but on older people who had numbers). It was a re-connection to some of what I felt I had lost, a sense of security, knowing where I had left things within my own mind, knowing where I was.

From this sense of knowing exactly where you are, and not allowing yourself to become too scattered — as I certainly was when I lost the bag — comes the ability both to stay centred and more or less organised, therefore functioning well in the world, and also the ability to realise that on an absolute level, clinging to our ‘identity numbers’ might be no more than a way of creating tension and confusion, a way of keeping ourselves limited. When I die, I certainly hope that no official document will be required…

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