Source: Wikimedia Commons
I’m 53 years old. Or so I’ve been told. This idea of time is so arbitrary. The earth orbits the sun every 365 days. A day is 24 hours, but the actual time required for the earth to rotate once is about 23 hours and 56 minutes. We have leap days, and leap years, and we still think that our birthday happens on the same day of the year, every year. Happily, we’re able to make it all fit so that we can have a civilization.
I have an identity. My identity changes with respect to the roles I play. I am an animal, a mammal, a human, a man, a husband, a father, an employee, and a writer. My body is composed of 10 trillion cells, and not all of them have my DNA. It is convenient that they all manage to cooperate together, for today.
My name is Scott. That was given to me by my parents, and people have found some utility in saying that word to get my attention. Most times, it works.
But my name is not who I am. It is only a marker, a reference. My name doesn’t even come close to describing who I am. That’s why I introduce myself a certain way:
My name is Scott.
I am Scott.
But for the people who know me, when they read or hear my name, they associate everything they know about me with my name.
Long ago I read:
Everything you know about you, you learned from someone else.
Other people gave me my identity, for my identity is only useful to other people. Other people tell me what my character is, for my character is revealed through every interaction I have with other people. Other people told me my birthday, where I lived while I was a young child, how I did in school, and what I enjoyed doing before my first conscious memory.
I know what I like and what I don’t like. I know my friends. I know my family. I probably don’t know them as well as I could or should. But I know them. I keep in touch. I like to read, I like to write, I like to explore. I like being a dad. I like playing with computers. I like long walks on trails. I like the time of the equinox. There is much, much more to me than this, as words are only an approximation of who I am. I know much of it, but I cannot describe all of it, even with words.
Yet, despite all that I know about myself, I still don’t know who I am.
I have a friend who practices yoga and meditation. I’ve had interesting conversations with him about who I am and what is mine. Your body is not you. There is something else inside there, that is you. We still don’t know what that spark of consciousness is yet. I suppose all of life would be the lesser if we knew what that spark is, if we could quantify it and characterize it with precision. That might be the ultimate reduction of reality. Then I suppose we could go to a movie.
I am reminded of the title of a U2 album:
All that you can’t leave behind
Is that who I am?
I just watched Ex Machina the other night, and as I watched the movie, I started to think about my identity, because I was watching an artificial intelligence develop its own identity.
I have a body, a family, a house, a couple cars, a job, tax returns, a Social Security Number, social media accounts, email accounts, a phone number, cryptocurrency wallets, a drivers license, and a name. They are all addresses.
To get a response from me, you must address me by name.
That is what I tell people when they do not get a response from me. I’ve seen people talking to me, assuming that I’m listening, but I’m not. I’m not even in the room, but my body is there. I just didn’t hear my name because I was thinking, so I didn’t listen and didn’t respond. I assume that they weren’t talking to me unless I hear my name.
If I’m not in the room, and you see my body, who am I?
I have written more than once about The Observer in me. This is the component of the psyche that gathers information without judgment. Most of the time, I’m in that state. I’m rather passive in this state, but I’m watching, learning, taking notes, putting things together so that they make sense for me. I’m usually observing how people act around me, around each other, with each other so that I can maintain a state of peace. I err on the side of peace.
But while I’m in that state, I am self aware. I am noticing how I’m feeling, what I’m thinking and what I want to do next. I watch my kids and I want to teach them something, or just let them play together. I watch my wife and there is much that I want to say, but I can’t always say what is on my mind. I watch my coworkers at work and I want to blow their minds with some of the cool stuff I have learned. I like to write to blow your mind. I write to blow my own mind, too. This is something else that I know about me, but it is not all of me.
I am not even sure if I will ever know all of me. My identity is not a word, or even a lot of words. The best I can say is that my identity is my address, where I am right now, this moment, this breath, this spine tingling moment. And all of that, is in relation to the universe. I am exactly where I need to be right now for the universe to work as it is.
Originally published at steemit.com on August 10, 2018.