Who I Am

My body isnít me.
I am not my body.
It is merely the vessel
that encases who I am.

Botox, face lifts, boob jobs,
tummy tucks, washboard abs,
hair coloring, hairpieces, hair transplants,
worrying over being overweight,
a frantic frenzy from cellulite -
what drives some people to care
so much about the bodyís appearance?

Who am I? What am I?
How do I think of who I am?
No sharply focused image of my body
comes to my mind.
Instead, I am what I think and believe,
how I act and react - my intellect,
my accumulated wisdom and experience,
my compassion and concern,
what I stand for, what I oppose,
how large my loves,
how small my hates and prejudices.
THIS is who I am.

Were I my body,
once I had gained thirty years of life,
I could have changed only for the worse
the entire remainder of my existence.
If my mental image of who I am
were my body, then growing older could only bring disappointment and despair,
because muscles will sag,
hair will thin and gray,
the waist will naturally thicken,
parts will begin to dysfunction
as a body deteriorates.
I would be doomed to be unhappily worse
at age 55 compared to age 25.

BUT, who I am becomes better
with each passing year as my
wisdom and enlightenment accumulate.
The impetuousness, the ignorance of my youth
have yielded to more learned and experienced ways,
as maturity identified the truly important
aspects of leading oneís life.
My youthful selfishness and ambition fell before
compassion and concern for others.
I am a better person at 55 than I was at 25.
I grow continuously better and stronger with age!

My view of self... and of others...
allows me to tell my beloved wife,
and truly mean it in my heart,
that she - a woman in her fifties,
with graying hair, sagging muscles,
added weight - is the most beautiful
person I know. Her inner beauty shines
so brightly that, when I gaze upon her,
her golden glow is so magnificent
that it masks the age of the vessel.

A body may become decrepit, yet
the person living inside may be among
the most vibrant and beautiful alive...


Harry Edward Gilleland      03.31.03