Thursday, March 18, 2010

Russian Dolls

I cannot get the image of Russian dolls out of my head. I'm sure you've at least seen a picture of them--A painted "doll" on a vaguely human-shaped box. You open it up, and inside is nested another doll. You open that one--guess what another doll! And so on...

Do we come into our lives as Russian dolls? If so, is life about exposing each new layer at random or pre-determined times, so that at the end we get to the "core" of who we are?

Maybe, the metaphor works in reverse--we come into life small and unformed, and as we progress through space and time we acquire new layers of who we are. Does that mean that at the end of our lives we have become removed from the essence of what we once were? Does it mean we spend our lives "becoming?"

If I am to play with this metaphor, I think I most often feel like I have built up layers around myself. But that is not to say that the layers are not useful; they have added a complexity and a sharpness that was not formerly present.

But sometimes it hurts to feel the burden of the layers--the weight of them pressing upon me. One layer is "society." It it made up of expectations and roles and all the ways in which others judge who or how I should be. It is made up of the ways in which I have learned to navigate my way through, the ways in which I have altered or changed the way I would otherwise be. There is a layer "family. A layer "job." A layer dedicated to all the joy I have ever experienced--and another that shades that joy like a dark woolen cloak--made up of the pain and disappointment life has thrown my way.

What does it mean, then, to love? To be truly intimate with another person? Does it mean you can cast off your layers and show that person your inner doll?

I'm going to ponder all this some more. I welcome your thoughts.

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