Punctuate Yourself

When I see someone coming towards me I get a sense of who it is, if I know her or him, long before I see a face. There’s something about people, their signature in the world, which I try to help people cultivate.
        I did something with a group of people last week, an exercise I’ve tried before and which always seems to help if there’s something troubling the sense of who you are.
        How would you punctuate yourself? Without thinking too hard try to get a sense of yourself and represent that combination of thoughts and feelings with a punctuation mark. Write it on a blank sheet of blank. If an existing punctuation mark doesn’t come to you then invent one. Punctuation marks off sections of text; and in this context they mark you off from how you experience yourself. Or perhaps how others experience you (the sense, perhaps, of you that others experience as you approach them).
        Sometimes people feel that they’ve lost touch with themselves, or don’t know who they are. I that often they do have a sense of who they are, but that the way they have been circumscribed conflicts with it. Draw a circle around the punctuation mark and look at what’s in front of you. That circle represents all of the ways in which people, including yourself, have limited who you are.
        For example, someone might have always wanted to work outdoors, doing physical things like sailing, which seemed to make her feel good about herself. Growing up, though, she may have been encouraged or even directed more forcefully to develop the talent she also seemed to have for maths. After a while, maybe a struggle, she possibly even bought into this … and ended up in her mid-twenties feeling angry a lot of the time, or maybe depressed. She might, if I asked her to punctuate herself now write down an exclamation mark and tell me: ‘I don’t know who I am!’.  The exclamation mark points to the thought she does, though. It’s an angry exclamation, shouting: ‘not this!’.
        Try doing this with a friend and see what you come up with.
        What could an ellipses mean?


Leave a Reply