The Illusion of Separateness

We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness. Thich Nhat Hanh

Who is this person writing these words on this page? Words that were first a series of ten-minute writes, from a week, maybe much longer, of writing and thoughts. Who is this person now stringing them together to find some kind of coherent flow?

It’s the day before my birthday. Is this the reason I feel an urgency to answer the questions who  am I and why am I here? Mary Oliver asks, “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” I. Don’t. Know.

Breathe, Laura.

Earlier this morning I was at George’s Grill eating breakfast with my brother, Buddy . A Sunday tradition we’ve kept since his bout with viral encephalitis nearly nine years ago. We’ve shared so much of ourselves in this time. Is he my little brother, the grown man who was once so near death, or the career musician with a life of his own I know little about? Is he all of these? And more?

I left the grill to write at the bookstore cafe, a follow up to the thoughts and feelings stimulated from an hour’s connection with him. A young girl in a raincoat decorated with lady bugs and black rain boots with light up soles skips to a table. An older woman, her grandmother perhaps, follows behind with a tray of drinks and pastries. I watch as they share bites of cinammon scone and chocolate cupcake. And I feel myself becoming them. The “grandmother” sees me watching and smiles. My eyes tear up.

So who am I? The body people see and connect their own experiences to? As I was doing with the woman and young girl. The thoughts and feelings swirling inside me? That I was having from spending time with my brother? All of it? And more?

Breathe, Laura.  This is a familiar feeling. One I constantly feel the need to identify, to make sense of, to control.

I remember many years ago as a young girl, at possibly ten or twelve, lying on my bed, aware of being in my body and at the same time aware of being above this contained form, watching it. Who was I? What was going on? Did this happen to others? I don’t know. I didn’t ask.

For the last seventeen years as the feelings have become more overwhelming, I’ve addressed this “connection” by writing  down these streams of thoughts,  feelings, words and experiences.  Slowing them down. Sitting with them. Listening. Watching.

Seeing pieces of me and the world around  me as if we are separate. Listening and watching them come together.

Am I becoming aware of this illusion of separatrness that Thich Nhat Hanh talks about?

Writing topic: The Illusion of Separateness



teacher/student, writer/reader, friend

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