Who am I?
Starting the day in one of those contemplative moods, I pondered the question, ‘Who am I, really?’ Which led me to also think about ‘Who are you?’ I don’t mean, ‘What is the name on your birth certificate?’ or ‘How would you describe your profession, your role as a parent, an engineer, a midwife, your occupation etc.?’ I don’t even mean ‘what are your beliefs, be they Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Atheist, Hindu, Taoist, Agnostic?’
Maybe another way of asking this question is ‘what defines you? What defines me, and us?’
There’s a line from one of the Batman Movies (of all things!) which I like, and gives a pause for thought. The character Rachel says to the billionaire Bruce Wayne:
“It’s not who you are underneath, it’s what you do that defines you.”
So, in the context of the movie, the message is that the moral choices, followed by the actions of the Batman character, are what defines him.
This seems to get closer to the truth…but is that it in entirety?
I think not.
Who are you?
It’s a question that explores not only your past – though that has almost certainly shaped you; and not only your aspirations – though they are wholly valid; but one which asks so much more. It’s hard to fully grasp the extent of an answer that would be all-embracing.
One of my favourite philosophers (though he might be better known to you as an author) C.S. Lewis talked in a series of lectures about the “knocks and blows” that we receive as humans and the terrible things that happen which are out of our control and suggests that for each of these ‘blows’ we become more aware.
I have been known to philosophise (as my friends fall asleep around the dinner table) about the visualisation that as we are born we are of perfect form and nature. And every experience has a cutting, or smoothing effect until we die. The point for me in this, is that I regret absolutely nothing in my life, because every experience good and bad has taught me something.
The shared title of the Les Miserables song comes to mind – ‘Who am I?’ If you’re not familiar with the song, the sad answer to this question afforded to Jean Valjean is ‘24601’. He had been reduced to a mere number as a result of a petty crime.
Sometimes it can feel similar for those of us living with depression. The title of ‘a depressive’ can be the description given to us in an attempt to summarise who we are, when in fact we are so much more than the depression itself.
If you were to ask a brain surgeon with a broken arm who he was, I can bet you he wouldn’t say “a man with a broken arm”!
A journey of discovery
Currently I am working on a self-help book for people with the PHYSICAL illness of depression. (A commonly held myth is that Depression is a psychological disease.)
I have also recently completed my autobiography. My Sister, Brother and a couple of my best mates have asked me what the process of writing an autobiography is like.
It’s unlike me to give a cursory answer. Instead, I prefer to really ponder the question. In considering the answer, I have ascertained that every day of writing an autobiography has potential for adventure, sadness, happiness, and humour.
I’m discovering, for every memory I share with friends and family, often it will spark another memory, or bring clarity to something that had become quite fuzzy. Add to that different perspectives, and the various memories of other folk, and one can open up a new discovery of who I was and maybe who I still am.
The process is a bit like a pyramid, my memory is at the top but, when I share it with others who were a part of the experience, I find there’s a far broader width, and a meaning that I maybe wasn’t aware of.
This provokes other stories, and the most exciting part is that I get a better picture of why I am the way I am and I get a little bit closer to finding out who I really am.
This has been my experience so far and, once again, introspection is promoted. I am not just my body, my disease, my job or my status. Neither am I my beliefs, my relationships, my past or my future. I’m a collection of all these things and more. And it’s the same for YOU.
I’m multi-faceted, and effected by my environment and other peoples’ actions and feelings, as are YOU.
As a writer, this is quite exciting because it provokes the impetus for more creative writing (poetry or music). Dependent on my mood and the memory, the result will be different.
So who am I?
For me, discovering the answer to this question is going to be a journey in itself. However, if forced at this time to give an answer, the best I could do would be:
I am what I be and what I share through my music and writing. For better or worse, this is the truest I can be.
With Love, peace and hope,