There’s a stranger who wants to meet you. And that stranger is you.
There’s a belief that, after you die, a part of you survives and continues in a new state of consciousness, transcending the three dimensions of the physical world. That part of you is the “stranger”, and if you don’t get to know him or her, you’ll simply rot in your coffin.
Now, whether you believe that sort of thing or not, there’s a strong argument for getting to meet this stranger anyway.
I call it a stranger because it may well be strange to you, or unrecognised by you. Different cultures have given it all kinds of names. Some have called it the “higher self”, some, your “guide” or “angel”, some the “spirit”, your “ego”, your “spark”, your “muse”, your “mojo”, and some the “real you.”. It’s all rather unclear, because this stranger is a bit elusive. I call it a stranger because, at least at first, it seems like someone or something separate from the “you” you know so well.
You can go through your entire life with no clear sense or awareness of this “stranger”. You can also go through life always feeling its presence, more or less benevolently.
This stranger manifests itself inside you in different ways. Some simply feel guided by it, a kind of inner voice that keeps you on track. For some, it is the “watcher”, the bit of you that comments on what you are doing in the present: “You’re getting angry again, aren’t you”. It’s a kind of inner conversation with yourself. Now, does that mean you are going mad? No, we all are in an inner conversation with this stranger, because this stranger really is a part of ourselves.
This stranger seems calmer, more conscious, more patient, able to take a “helicopter view”. It often acts as our conscience, our guide, and it has often kept us safe. We lose touch with it when we turn our attention too much to the world of the senses, the world of day to day living and constant reacting. This stranger lives in our “ideal” world. It helps us to imagine things, so see the world with emotional intelligence (to see with the heart and to put ourselves in others’ shoes) and to put a bit of awareness into our actions, to ensure our will is guided by intuition.
We are all different, a unique species of one individual person, and our “stranger” is different in each of us. If we are the actor of our own story, the stranger is a major author, collaborator, editor and sometimes friendly director.
We can be utterly bemused even at the notion that there is a stranger in us at all; a second soul, a second “One” of us. Some of you reading this will be frustrated at what seems like new age nonsense, a woolly and general idea. Others will have got it immediately, be nodding, almost turning to their inner stranger (who is a close friend) and nodding knowingly.
It’s that part of you that occasionally seems to be looking in on you, a sense of a bit of you being separate, in a calmer place, a bit more objective. You can meet it, and even BE it, in those moments when you have just woken up, a detached, gentler, feeling of awareness – some people even feel a physical sense of separation, a bit “out of body” just before they wake up fully in the morning. You can be utterly drunk, and some clear voice in your head tells you that you are drunk and its time to get home. You can feel tired and yet this voice says: “You can manage another hour.” This happens for some, not for everyone.
If ever you meditate, this stranger comes to the fore and you can feel more united with it – calm, mindful, present and aware. It looks on, into the world, and even can feel your own body, a tool for life, sitting still on the chair. It calms you into a more regular, healthful breathing; thoughts and feelings, for at least a few minutes, no longer possess you entirely, but are there, more clearly before you. There’s you and there’s YOU. This stranger can bring you more into balance.
As I said earlier, the stranger isn’t really a stranger at all. It’s you. Part of learning in life seems to be about meeting ourselves. As we grow older we get to know ourselves better, see ourselves more clearly. We see INTO yourselves – we gain insight. There’s “I” the see-er and there’s “me” the seen. Both are parts of my self – myself!. One seems slightly above, looking down on me, standing physically on the stage of my life. We are separated, yet we are also one. I can feel confused, and a part of me can see that I feel confused.
In over thirty years of being a facilitator, coach and mentor, I’ve found myself in dialogue with two people; the person with the problems, and their “higher self”, wanting to help, wanting to offer insight, asking questions, naming things, and reflecting back. Whether a professor or a parking attendant, this ability to see more clearly, to rise above oneself, to be far more aware of oneself in the world, this capacity is available to all. But often we ignore this stranger because we were brought up never to trust or speak to strangers !
We can hear this stranger when we create space to listen to it. It often speaks of our potential, or possibility, yet to be realised. So, in a way, it is as if it lies in our future, inviting us to step forwards in our life, to improve, to become better, to realise our potential. One way of listening to it is to think in a kind of backwards way. At night, before sleeping, look back over your day in reverse order; do this gently, attentively, picturing what happened back towards the start of the day, when you woke up, and you’ll find moments of significance start to light up, even jump out at you; little lessons arising from the day, small insights, big realisations. And out of these can come ideas, new impulses for the future and even a sense of continuity – patterns in your life, a sense of purpose. And you wake up the next day with some new motivation, a new direction, something novel to try out. These moments where new insight and ideas, new impulses and possibilities light up inside you, these are the stranger in you talking to you. A friend, a companion and, ultimately you.
In calm moments, where you still sit for a few minutes, a walk by the sea, alone with your thoughts and the sound of the waves on the shore, a conversation with a friend where you really offer your full attention, listen actively, without constant inner interruption and distraction, it is in these calm and clear spaces that you and the stranger begin to get to know each other. Writing your thoughts in a journal, or just spending some quiet time, reflecting or being still.
Year pass by in your life and you are well aware that, even as every cell in your body dies and is replaced, you still you know and recognise a core in yourself as you. As “I”. And no one else on earth can be that “I”.
You listen more to this inner stranger and become closer to it, more at one with it. The stranger becomes a friend. In a world of constant advertising and marketing, of people and groups with all kinds of agendas of their own, crowding around you, seeking attention and reaction, you can also notice these attempts made to block out this inner you, and replace it with other “strangers” who claim to be your friend, and even you. Habits, fashions, expectations, social norms and pressures, fixed ways to be “cool”, none of it decided or willed originally by you. Then we really don’t know what to think. We start to use Google for even basic decisions in life. And your stranger waits, calmly reminding you to come back to yourself. To your self.
The stranger’s gentle voice gets easily drowned out. Soon we can completely forget it even exists, even see it as a form of madness. Yet amid all the media noise, all of the influences that tell us that this or that is true or is lies, the stranger is there; always gently there. It reaches out to you in your dreams, and during your darkest moments. It’s only strange because you don’t recognise it. It’s the you that has never deserted you, and never will. And some say it is your eternal spirit.
All you have to do is find a bit of silence; create some calm, and listen. Strengthen your will to persevere by choosing to do something that is willed only by you, each time at the same time each day. A little exercise: Try to do it for a month. Tap your nose at 9am each day for a month. Why? Because YOU decided to for no reason other than YOU chose to. If you forget, don’t get angry, just keep at it. Each day, for a month. Strengthen your will power will little will exercises. A walk every day; eating slower and tasting your food. Then, as your tired old will gets a bit stronger, amid all the noise of smartphones, TV and traffic, you might just find the energy to persist, creating that needed silence.
Then, into that silence you’ll hear a greeting. It will feel like recognition after a while, like coming home to yourself. Then you’ll realise that over half of your energy and potential was lost and locked into Facebook and late night TV. You won’t give it all up; but you might just gain a bit of conscious control, even mastery over it all. You and your stranger are stronger together.
The stranger wants to meet you. The stranger is inviting you to become its friend. Once friends, you might just realise that this stranger, all along, was you.
A calmer and clearer sense of life, with more enjoyment of it. Better decisions, and a sense of life being full of possibility and purpose. The stranger is the part of you that needs you to be free and will only guide, but never interfere. To be free, you have to be free to fail. You are also free to find the free-ness that comes with seeing yourself, and your deepest motives, right here, right now. And when you can direct your will in the present, then you are free. You’ll feel that freedom. And that freedom will lend energy to your day, and put a spring in your step.
Hello, I’m no stranger, dear friend. I’m you.