Tuesday, August 17, 2010

parts of the whole

We are more than the sum of our parts.

I recognize this, and I recognize that I am more than the sum of my roles: wife, daughter, sister, friend. Writer, baker, Ph.D. candidate, admirer of the seaside.

I believe that these roles do not define me. If I were to lose every single title by which I'm known, I know that my soul would abide. And yet.

I cling to these roles like a skirt to pantyhose. Somehow I can't separate the act of removing emotional attachment to these roles from the act of losing a significant part of who I am. I don't know how to cherish the enjoyment I get from baking without then falling to pieces when the cake turns out dry and crumbly.


I spent a year in France, studying the language, devouring the delicacies. I blossomed, finally released from the shyness that blocked the fun, creative, loving energy that I had been afraid to convey. And I was so funny, you guys. And then I came back to the States, and asked my best friend: "What are the top three adjectives you would use to describe me?" (Doesn't everyone love that question?). And funny wasn't in the top three. I was crushed, confused. "But," I protested to myself, "I have shed the layers of shy Elyssa to reveal hilarious Elyssa underneath! The true Elyssa, who happens to be wicked, ridiculously funny! Top-three caliber funny, even.

And now I realize that yes, I'm funny. I want you to think I'm funny, obviously. Sometimes I'm shy. And I get easily offended when my perceived foundation -- the person I've always believed myself to be -- is threatened in some way. Somehow I've forgotten that there's something even deeper than those layers, something unextinguishable. Something wholly different from the roles I play and the adjectives I attach to myself. And I'm ready to relinquish that dependency.


And so I find myself back at Lesson 2 of A Course in Miracles: "I have given everything I see in this room [on this street, from this window, in this place] all the meaning that it has for me."

I'll report back soon.


  1. funny is so in the top three. just sayin'.

  2. I am flattered by this compliment. But not emotionally attached in any way to said flattery.

  3. I agree with Kate - you are hilarious. Do you remember those stories we wrote (well, really you and Pample with minimal help from me) about our various weekend trips (pig balls in Strasbourg!)? I still laugh out loud when I think about those...

  4. My favorite memory of that time was our week in Spain, especially that one afternoon when we were sprawled out on that big comfy bed, eating chocolates, listening to "Your Body is a Wonderland," and scribbling gems of hilarity in our Jordi Labanda notebooks.