Posted by: scintillatingspeck | August 20, 2013

Wanting to be seen.

Inner space also arises whenever you let go of the need to emphasize your form-identity.  That need is of the ego.  It is not a true need. … To the ego it will seem as if you are losing yourself, but the opposite is case.  Jesus already taught that you need to lose yourself to find yourself.  Whenever you let go of one of these patterns, you de-emphasize who you are on the level of form and who you are beyond form emerges more fully.  You become less, so you can be more.

Here are some ways in which people unconsciously try to empasize their form-identity: …. wanting to be seen…

-from Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth
[italics mine]

I’ve written a fair amount about wanting to be seen and heard in the past year or so.  It may be the case that all of my writing, in fact, is an attempt to make myself visible, to assert my existence, to give voice to that which seems unspeakable, to make my markings upon the world before I die.  What kind of markings are these, though?  Soft or loud, defiant or subtle or gentle or looping in sudden crescendos, they’re all just the tracings of a paddle on the river, little temporary eddies and droplets, beautiful, evanescent, bittersweetly mortal.

Life hands me coruscating lessons in a brilliant tumble and flow.  My friend Suzanne, to whom I feel connected at a deep, intuitive level, encouraged me to start reading Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth, and today I picked it up and turned to the section called “Losing Yourself to Find Yourself.”  The quote above is from that section.  It smacked me between the eyes, all of a sudden, reading those words: wanting to be seen.  It pushed me to examine that wanting more closely, to determine if I’m able to set it down and allow myself to dissolve into formlessness, reabsorbed into the river.

What is visible about one’s life?  What remains hidden, by necessity?  It’s all well and good to proclaim that openness is a virtue, that the truth of one’s life need not be shameful despite the prevailing winds of popular opinion, nor need that truth be excessively elevated or idolized, and yet it’s quite another endeavor to navigate the reality of others’ beliefs and perceptions and requests.  One could say, “Oh, whatever, to hell with it, I’ll just throw open the doors to my life and be naked in front of everyone,” but we are inextricably bound to others.  Our disclosures, our writings, our photographs, our art, and equally our silences, our fears, our denials, these all carry the weight of responsibility to those in our sphere.

This wanting to be seen; is it purely a clinging to form-identity?  I’m sure it often is, but I need to dig into it and ferret out more of this lesson.  What makes me want to be seen?  Do I crave recognition, praise?  I know I have old stories in my head about the importance of recognition, that desire to be told, “Yes, I see the choppy waters you’ve traversed, and you’ve done it; you’re here; you worked hard; you suffered; you didn’t know if there would be any reward for your efforts.  Here, here’s some admiration, a pat on the head, glowing words, warmth.”  Perhaps I fear that without recognition, there is no warmth, that it can only be earned through strenuous effort.

Do I want to prove that I exist, that I’m a separate Self?  that I have a name, a face?  that I’m worthy?  that I’m good enough?  No doubt that’s driven by ego.  And the internal railing begins against the tyranny of enforced selflessness, especially as that’s been wielded against women historically; I don’t especially want to buy into a story of deliberate disempowerment, either, at the same time that I increasingly note how none of us has any real control.

Stories collide; the anxieties and words and faces of others loom large in my consciousness.  There are real, live examples of those stories, of course, but I would be dishonoring my agreements to write about them.  I would be lying if I claimed it didn’t chew me up inside to hold that silence.  How do we tell the stories that don’t solely belong to us?  Just a brief, obvious example: I have a mother, and her viewpoints and her path have affected my life, but she has asked me not to write about her.  How do I manage that?  How do I remain true to my own story while honoring her request?  There are others I don’t write about, as well; do I just write in vague generalities?  Does it make any sense when the stories are devoid of detail?  Wanting to be seen, for me, means wanting to tell my story.  My story doesn’t exist without the stories of others who might not want to be seen.

Returning to Tolle’s words, if the wanting to be seen is just a manifestation of ego, if it would feel better, in the end, to relinquish that desire, then why would anyone write or make art of any sort?  Why would anyone communicate?  Maybe I’m confusing his intention; Tolle, after all, has written books and gives seminars, so presumably he wants to be seen.  Does he do this to feel important?  I’m less interested in his motivations than in my own, right now… am I writing, right now, to feel important?  to feed my ego?  It doesn’t feel like it.  I could be wrong.  I know I’m writing on my blog, which is public, and it matters to me that other people will read this, but is that a bad motivation?  Do I want my readers to see me as impressive and wonderful?  The thing is, you reading this, I want you to see me, so deeply, so much, but I know how fallible I am, how riddled with flaws, and I want you to see it, I want you to sit with me in mutual witness, hand in hand.  I want us to be joined.  I don’t know a better way.  Dissolving into formlessness will come as surely as death; my mission is to live now, take form now, create now, love now, hold you now.

Observing that tension of storytelling and silence, visibility and invisibility, I’ll let go, over and under the surface of the water.  Carry me where you will, current; I trust you.

photo credit: Ryan Rathje



  1. Wanting your writing to be seen isn’t always ego. Sometimes you just want to share wisdom that you have discovered, and when it makes you feel good that a lot of people read it, that’s not always ego either. Sometimes it’s just happiness that the wisdom is being shared

  2. I am pleased to hear you. Real efforts at communicating some deeper stuff lets us know we are not as alone as it may seem. Good to connect with others of conscientious goodwill! Thanks for the email.

  3. It’s not ego, or a gratuitous desire for praise, this wanting to write. I think it is a natural response to the disconnection of others. I know this is why I write; to try to bridge the culturally-enforced gap between societal fantasy and the stark reality. So much of what we see and hear and read is unreal; authenticity can only be established if we are willing to write naked, to stand revealed in both folly and triumph, to disclose the processes of awakening in all its pain and joy. But it’s not easy.

    Authenticity has been taken up by marketers – everywhere I see exhortations to “be authentic”. So we will see it become sham – except I believe it is a trait which can’t be faked or mimicked. As authentic humans who care for others, perhaps we should look at this personal and painful sharing as one more caring and genuine process – for who could go through this, and not wish to ease the suffering and confusion of others? If it brings even one reader solace or hope -just one- well, then, I want to be seen. 🙂

    Keep writing,

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