A weight can be a lightening of existence. Chains can be freedom. The prisoner knows what freedom is clearly.
For today’s topic I have to ask, who do you think you are? What thoughts does this question raise?
A being hard to define.
What happens if you don’t know who you are?
Life can be hard if you don’t know who you are.
Well, I suppose like in the extreme amnesia case it would be disorienting… so maybe I’m my story.
So who do you think you are? Can anyone answer the question? I feel I have a sense of who I am, and maybe I should go into that?
As a young person, raised the way I was, I honestly had no idea who I was. I constantly got input about what my problem was, questions about why I didn’t behave normally or choose to do the expected things. I got the impression that I was just a walking problem, and this was from everybody, even people whose behaviour could be called “loving.”
It took having my life come crashing down around me to really realize how very little I knew about myself. Of gifts or innate talents I am in short supply. Certainly, as far as marketable talents or skills, I am largely empty handed. Eventually, I wound up homeless. Simply being homeless has a lot to teach you about who you are even if it teaches you the hard way. A lot of your identity is tied up in that place you are allowed to be, those associations or relationships that acknowledge you as a person, the group of people who will own up to “owning” you.
With all of that absent, the world looks very different. After a short while I even had to make an effort to recall my name. What I had left was a conviction that I had to stay out of trouble, which meant I had to avoid troubling anyone else. It’s not so hard to do. The majority of people neither know nor care who you are or what condition you are in. Those who are disturbed by the plight of a stranger, as I was, have an uncommon degree of empathy. I met very few such people, but I did meet them as I was wandering the world as I knew it. There was a stretch of territory along the I-5 and east along the border out into a region of Texas known as the Big Thicket, a region east of the Texas pan handle… Well, as I wandered and thought… Well, you have very little use for all those trains of thought that track social data, television programs, news stories, social expectations, “life goals.” They all lose their meaning when taken out of the social context.
I still have very few of those things. It can be difficult for me to think of appropriate topics of conversation especially when the other person isn’t willing to talk about their own life, so to speak. After a bit I even faced a short period I found very disturbing. I am not certain how I pulled through it, maybe it was my strange neural architecture, but I found my sense of self, that core sense that keeps you centered on what you could do if the opportunity presented itself, that keeps the meaning and significance of things you see and hear and experience straight in your own head… Well, let’s say it began to decay. Literally, things like elements of my environment began to loose their sense. All that remained consistent was an instinct for self preservation. All the information in my head, about life stories, emotions and their meaning, questions of age and race and gender, all began swirling and mixing in my mind more or less out of my control. My core consciousness could only really watch and hope it would all settle down. I feared I was loosing my mind and would never get it back. Sort of like having an out of control fantasy life but without the real life tag on any of it, everything was potential material for the fantasy whirlwind in my head.
It did eventually clear. It took a few days. I had an opportunity to catch up on some sleep when a Latino man, devout Catholic, decided he needed to help me for a little while. He didn’t ask anything of me. His English wasn’t very good. He spoke well enough to make his intentions clear. I ate and had a nights rest in a motel room he rented. He was headed in a different direction than I was so I hit the road the following morning with my head clearer perhaps than it had ever been before. The value I saw the things of my past having, even the things of my present, was gone. It was like waking up for the first time, everything having a very immediate reality, every sense impression having no more meaning than the raw elemental presence it was. I resolved that no matter what anything “meant”, no matter what was supposedly important, whatever I was supposed to do with my life, above all I would survive. I never took up the notion of fitting in again. This is a liberation — of great magnitude.
I found some constructive things to do, and eventually fortune smiled on me and I met someone who would become my best friend up until he died, who reminded me I was a real human being no matter how incompetent I might be, and things continued from there. So who am I?
I am a being. I don’t even think of myself as human. Human is an idea that plugs you in to a whole story that makes no sense to me. I am a being who is willing to see everything fall apart with the understanding that nothing is ever really lost. That loss and failure are just events and can even be used creatively, spun in such a way as to have a creative outcome. I am a being who sees the worst in everyone and loves them for it as strange as that may sound. I don’t care for peoples virtues, their ideals and aspirations. High minded speech just plugs into the human story most of the time. My own energy and time are better spent dealing with other things.
One of the biggest burdens from my past, that I abandoned, was the notion that I was lazy. That was the biggest inspiration behind the hate and contempt I experienced in my youth. Because I could not do what was expected of me, or do things with the energy and enthusiasm that was expected of me, my name was lazy, more often than it was ever the name on my birth certificate. I am not lazy. I work in a different way. Yes, much slower than anyone else, but I have found over time that it’s in key points, because of my weird way of acting and relating to the world, that my way of working is most useful, most important. My slowness puts me in touch with something that touches everyone anyway, entropy, chaos, that tendency to break down that everyone without exception faces.
This story you are telling is very compelling. Ah, I haven’t told my story on the website. I am surprised I have said this much.
Your story would inspire many people. When I get to talking about my personal affairs I get very uncomfortable, but I find many of the things I say about spirituality might not make sense unless I offer something from my own experience. It’s the best I can do to help those ideas along.
I find that everyone is to some degree paranoid. This seems to be at the root of everyone’s suffering, in one way or another, that question, “Who do you think you are?” It’s like everyone is displaying the childhood defence, plugging their ears and yelling “la la la la!”, but instead of following with “I can’t hear you”, the statement is instead “I can’t hear me.”
I can’t say I know why this is. My own early history was more a form of perseverance, continued effort to try to relate to others, before I gave up and just decided to survive, and to my surprise I found people who could relate to me instead.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.