We are who we say we are. By this I don’t mean to suggest that our civil structures like legal identity are unnecessary, only that they are contrived.
I speak philosophically when I say the distinction “I am” is inherently false, if only due to it’s relative subjectivity. Alas, we will never be, and never have been entirely “right,” nor for that matter have we ever been entirely “wrong” about anything. Certainly not about who and what we are, and why and to what end.
Though we humans have searched mightily and for millennia, no independently-existing “I,” no “identity” that isn’t dependent on external referents has yet been found. Who am “I” independent of my relationships? My roles? The air I breathe? The food I eat? I am all that. Am I more? I believe so, but nobody knows for sure in any sort of scientific way. Meanwhile religions stumble along trying and failing to fill in the blanks. I say it’s futile.
Little can be gained from seeking an objective, absolute and precise, in other words “true” story and meaning for our lives. Our circumstances simply don’t permit it. We don’t have the equipment to pull it off. Put simply, it’s beyond us.
Which would be okay, except for our obsession with knowing who and what we are, and to what end? And this obsession can be summed up in one word, “ego.” We insist that we matter. We love this notion. Is there a biological driver? Is ego merely one facet of our reproductive drive? Doubtful. But regardless of its etiology, the reality is we have egos, and egos have needs. And it is often in service of these ego needs that great evil is done, even by those who mean well.
The ego wants to be a hero, or a star, it wants to be exceptional in some way. It wants to matter, to win, to look good. But let’s face it, most of us live unremarkable lives. Which means nothing, until the ego adds meaning to it.
My own ego seems intent on embarrassing me, seducing me with praise and exaggerating small successes, insatiable, never satisfied. Egos are like that. And I think they are firmly entrenched in our zeitgeist. So why not make the most of them?
And since it’s all made up anyway, what we can and ought to do is make up our own story, our own meaning.
I am the author of my own life story. So, for instance when I am afflicted, and must focus on healing myself more than others for a time, it’s not a failure or a setback or an interruption. It’s the nature of the life path I am on. I am my own patient. As I find a path to healing myself, I also learn valuable information and strategies that carry over for helping others to heal. So, I welcome my healing journey.
That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.