The Friendship of I and AM

How futile it is to rid oneself of the constant adjusting and re-adjusting of the relationship of I and AM, shortcut terms for our ‘doing’ self and our ‘being’ self. We spend our early years mustering the I to grow (our awareness of ’self’ or ‘I’ emerges at about 18 months of age), to gain mastery over the environment (childhood), and finally to gain independence (adolescence/adulthood). We then send it off into the world to make a Name for itself – to build, accomplish, and succeed – at tasks such as career and family. Life’s circumstances (interplaying with our genes) shape our I formation and situations like the recent ‘piracy case’ in Somalia, where young men commit a heinous crime, reminds us of how destructive the I can become without proper guidance and love.

All the while I is developing, the AM part of us – the part that inspires and intuits from beyond our conscious selves – waits to be re-discovered.

Glimpses of AM arise in moments of relaxation, contemplation, and full immersion in present moment experiences. I find a useful metaphor for the I and AM sides of myself to be two characters on a teeter-totter, each side as important as the other to keep the teeter-totter moving.

It seems to me that life is really about adjusting and re-adjusting the teeter-totter weights to find a perfect balance to keep the game going (whether holding it perfectly still at times or keeping it fluidly moving up and down). With life events constantly changing the weights of I and AM, we need to make minor or major adjustments all the time. It seems that well-being arises from the two in partnership with one another, albeit constantly adjusting and re-adjusting their respective weights.

Our individual I and AMs are like the societal equivalents of Reason and Intuition; both are necessary to move humanity forward. In the West, reason has recently led the way as science has become the predominant framework for knowledge. Yet as Jonas Salk once wrote, “intuition will tell the thinking man where to look next” and this part of us (and society) warrants remembering. Attending and caring for our intuitive minds requires a silencing of technology, a turning inward, and an exploration of mind perhaps through reconnecting with nature, meditation, gardening, or unstructured play, music, art, or other activity.

I’ve found recently that I think much more often in metaphors – perhaps the sign of the mass accumulation of experience with age revealing their patterns more clearly. The Teeter-Totter metaphor is a good reminder of the value of both I and AM and the Game we play to keep them in motion and balance. It is like a perfect friendship.

AM was alone, one with the world, when I first opened an Eye.

The I said, ‘who are you to AM and left him in Disguise’

But AM was steady, always Present, and I would Glimpse a peak.

Until one day, the I let go and walked with AM in Peace.