Flows

Water flowing

We so want to define ourselves, give ourselves an identity. And when we do so, we so often focus almost exclusively on the most stable, unchanging aspects of ourselves.

I am man. I am a mother. I am a carpenter. I am a music fan. I am a funny person. I am a courageous person. And on and on and on.

Are these really the most noteworthy aspects of ourselves? In any given moment, are these stable, often lifelong traits, what really define us? Do they give the best insight into our core interests and essences?

I don’t think so. Or, at the very least, they aren’t the full story.

Yes, I am a man. Yes, I am a sustainability professional for my job. Yes, I am a son. But I think what might be most interesting and pertinent about me is not what I am already, but what I am becoming.



I am on the journey to fully stepping into a new paradigm of fatherhood. I am in the process of becoming a full-fledged, confident, dynamic writer. I am striving to be a compassionate and present partner in moments when in the past I have devolved into anger and judgment. I am striving to be fiercely kind.

These are my growth edges. They aren’t the parts of me that are obvious and fully realized. They are the parts of me that are coming into being, that am I becoming. They are the gaps between how I aspire to be and how I am. They are the major flows of change running through me.

These say more about me, the deepest me, than anything static label ever could.

When I identify myself this way, I acknowledge my inherent ability to evolve and transcend myself. I remind myself that I am in the process of unfolding, that vast oceans of possibility and beauty lie dormant within me.

Identifying around what we are becoming is not an avoidance of accepting who we are now. It’s accepting that who we are right now is changing always – and accepting, witnessing, and embracing that change.


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Peter Schulte is the founder and editor of Kindling. Peter is also Senior Digital Engagement Associate for the Pacific Institute and the UN Global Compact's CEO Water Mandate, connecting businesses to sustainable water practices. Peter holds a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies and a B.A. in Comparative Literature from University of California, Berkeley, and an M.B.A. in Sustainable Systems from Pinchot University. He lives in Bellingham, WA with his partner Sara, child Owen, and cat Winnie.

    1 Comment

  1. Aric
    April 8, 2019
    Reply

    I like the evolutionary aspect of this post. Sort of relates to the topics of states of being transcending notions of time. Perhaps who we are is inclusive of our static elements, our history, our current challenges, and who we might be.

    Also connects for me the challenge of labels, inherently bound by our language and understanding, and typically static in meaning and in time. AND still useful for us – as they help us to make ‘sense’ of the world. They’re our mental models for understanding the world, why things happen – and all models are wrong, some are useful.

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