souvenir de voyage

“I have walked through many lives

some of them my own, and I am not who I was,

through some principle of being

abides, from which I struggle

not to stray…”

The Layers by Stanley Kunitz

I recently returned to France from a trip to the United States after being away for over a year and a half. I visited, Murrell’s Inlet, South Carolina, where my partner’s family lives, then Seattle, Washington for my son’s 40th birthday. While flying 40,000 feet above the Earth, there and back through myriad time zones ( an extraordinary marvel in itself) I looked around at all the other passengers and wondered what makes me “me” and not someone else?

The common idea that DNA determines much of who we are is a misinterpretation, as I was reminded while reading The Biology of Belief. Our DNA is controlled by our environment. It’s our perceptions, not genetic programming, that kindle all action in our bodies: Beliefs act as a filter between the environment and our biology, therefore it’s actually our beliefs that select our genes. Thus, people have the power to change their biology. We are not victims of our heredity.

Reflecting on the many iterations of myself I’ve experienced in my lifetime, I wonder how we maintain a true sense of self? With the exception of photography, there are no fixed snapshots of who we are at any given moment. My life is an evolving, creative endeavor. I’ve been a child, daughter, wife, mother, aunt, gardener, designer, architect, writer, photographer, and friend. I am not who I was then, nonetheless, I am the sum of many lives, a fusion of almost 65 trillion cells, a theatre where biology and quantum physics meet.

The layers of life ebb and flow like the waves of an ocean rippling outward until they dissipate into pure energy. I believe how I’ve chosen to walk in the world determines who I am. Our molecules exist in an operatic drama of flowing potential, nimble, graceful and elegant. As Gandhi said, If you change yourself you will change your world. If you change how you think you will change how you feel. By viewing your environment through new lenses of thought and emotions we can discover an unlimited capacity to create a life worth living full of peace, happiness, beauty and love.

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