Ask Me Whether What I Have Done Is My Life

“Ask me whether what I have done is my life” is a line from the poem “Ask Me” by William Stafford.

I read it for the first time when reading the first chapter of Parker J. Palmer’s book Let Your Life Speak.

In it, he talks about his realization that:

“…it is indeed possible to live a life other than one’s own.”

While some might dismiss this as an abstract concept, a poetic or philosophical musing, for others it is a heartbreaking reality.

When I ask myself this question, whether this life I have lived and am living is my own, I…I don’t know.

My answer is simply, and perhaps sadly, I do not know.

Some of it is. Much of it isn’t. That’s my first attempt at an answer.

But how do I know? I can hardly tell what  my life is, or could be. The idea of “my” life has been buried so far under layers and layers of other lives it seems distorted, colored, mangled, and voiceless.

Palmer says that letting one’s life speak means endeavoring to live the life that wants to live in you.

That, I’m guessing, takes quiet, patience, compassion, and lots of honest listening.

According to Palmer, it’s about seeking wholeness.

I would love to feel whole. I would love to show my daughter an example of someone who moves through the world in wholeness, compassion, and grace.

Who knows. Perhaps that’s what my daughter has come to show me.

Whatever your journey is, good luck and may your life be your own.