When Rabbi Zusha was on his deathbed, his students found him in uncontrollable tears. They tried to comfort him by telling him that he was almost as wise as Moses and as kind as Abraham, so he was sure to be judged positively in Heaven. He replied, “When I pass from this world and appear before the Heavenly Tribunal, they won’t ask me, ‘Zusha, why weren’t you as wise as Moses or as kind as Abraham,’ rather, they will ask me, ‘Zusha, why weren’t you Zusha?’
This story of Rabbi Zusha is one of my favorites and gives me pause repeatedly. The measure of our lives isn’t set against the rich, famous, or pious but against the full expression of our potential. It’s both comforting and scary at the same time.
Of course, being one’s best and highest self is further complicated by living with DID and other disabilities. Especially as a member of a largely covert system, it’s awkward to consider this. How can I be my best self if no one knows I’m even fronting? How can I fulfill my potential on days I’m too sick even to take a shower? Somedays, like today, I feel broken, useless, and a huge disappointment…
But then I think about Zusha and remember I’m not in a race with anyone but myself.
I’ve spent most of the day hooked up to my oxygen and feeling run down. Emotionally, all I could do was let a few people I care about know it. Physically, all I’ve managed to do today is feed the cat and have a couple of bowls of cereal. And yes, compared to Ms. Average Jane, that may not be much. But I’m not in a race against Ms. Average Jane. Sometimes, being your best and highest self is just getting through the day with kindness and compassion, both for others and for yourself.
With DID, the day is often all we have – we can feel robbed of our past and our future. What we have is the NOW, the time when we front. True, tomorrow isn’t guaranteed for anyone, but when you aren’t the host of your system, it can be almost guaranteed that you’ll miss some tomorrows. Coming to terms with that is hard.
There are things I’d like to accomplish in this life that I may never get to do simply because I don’t front often enough. Should I judge myself against those goals? Not if they aren’t realistic. Yes, reaching for your potential should be a stretch… but sometimes things aren’t possible. And in those cases, I think it’s OK to remember to judge ourselves against our realistic potential and not the ideal.
That doesn’t mean it’s OK to give up. If anything, it makes the little things more important because you CAN do them. They are in your reach every day, and deep down, I think many of us know what they are. For me, it’s trying to maintain kindness, compassion, and a certain connection to the Divine, even when sick and in pain. For Saoirse, it’s something different and probably runs Linux. We each have our path to walk, but I believe we can all walk a path of Service.
Today, try to be your best self. I’ll try, too. We may not change the world, but we can make each other’s worlds a little better. Recognize that being your best self doesn’t mean you must be Mother Teresa. You just have to try to be the best you can realistically be right now. If you make that a habit, even if you fall short sometimes, you will grow. You will not have to worry on your deathbed that you weren’t Zusha – you will have been your best self.