After J made me write out a hundred lines, I started thinking about my own identity. Basically, who am I?
How do we define ourselves? By our names, our jobs, our families, what we are good at , by our beliefs? There seems to be a powerful need in humans for labels that define and quantify us.
But when I started to go through the labels that I wear I found endless discrepancies and inconsistencies. Things that don’t match, like the sock drawer after a hurricane has gone through it.
If I look at how other people see me, which can be a useful thing because the views of others can be valuable mirrors, I find there are serious problems. For example, at work I am regarded and even referred to as a hippy. It actually rather annoys me because it’s sloppy thinking, and lazy at that. It seems to be based on a few rather random things: that I have very long hair, that I sometimes wear slightly bohemian clothes and have views on the environment and on spirituality. I was born halfway through, near enough, the Sixties and I don’t really remember anything except a pair of psychedelically striped trousers I wore when I was three and hated because they were not the kind of trousers that the super hero Superman would ever have worn and since I wanted to be Superman, I didn’t like wearing them. In truth I am rather a long way from being a hippy. True, I have long hair, but since it’s rather beautiful and unusual in colour and texture, I consider it my best feature and my one true physical beauty. I wear slightly bohemian clothes because they appeal to my sense of the aesthetic and sensual and they suit my figure; they are not chosen as a statement of anything more than that. In addition they are always clean and neat. I buy some fairtrade clothing but only when I find it within my price range and that will suit me; I’d like to buy all clothes that are made without exploitation of people or planet but I can’t afford it. I don’t speak much about my views on the enviroment or on spirituality unless it comes up in conversation and someone actually asks; I don’t believe in ramming it down throats. Unlike the hippy movement, I do think that war is sometimes a neccessary evil, and I do not belive in FREE LOVE. I’m actually quite a prude when it comes to carnal matters; I don’t believe sex is another contact sport or an amusing recreation between friends and consenting adults. I do believe that the recent phenomenon(or at least the recently coined term) fuck buddies is an unbelievably damaging diminution of the sacred act of love. The trouble is people don’t know how much it damages them because they’ve often no way of comparing. I know from stories from friends and acquaintances that in almost every case, whether it’s ever admitted or not, someone is being exploited and used. I don’t believe The Beatles song lyrics that LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED; I believe very strongly that love is a good start and after that comes hard work and committment, whether we’re talking about world peace or relationships. I don’t believe I’m the most important person in the world or that my needs or desires are that important to the grand scheme of things.
I’m a devout Christian but I’m also a permanent doubter of just about everything, including the organised churches and of any form of orthodoxy. I’m also a trainee shaman healer, though I can’t tell you who is training me or why. I believe that all life is sacred, and yet I eat meat. I believe that even rocks have a form of consciousness and that unseen by almost all, other beings walk among us constantly. In the liturgy of the Church of England it mentions Angels and archangels and all the company of heaven; for me this means those unseen beings. I don’t believe as so many New Agers do, that angels are there to do our bidding, nor do I believe they are much interested in us in the main. With so many other races present (but unseen) it’s actually unusual for any of them to wish to interact with us. I also believe that as many of the unseen company are good, just as many are bad. Something or other has hidden or purloined my favourite lipstick and I’d like it back. Please.
My identity becomes even more blurred when it comes to what I do. I don’t consider myself a teacher even though that’s what brings in some money; I’m actually quite a good teacher but I’ll never be the best because it doesn’t interest me enough. I find people quite a strain much of the time. I know I am unusually intelligent; probably somewhere in the genius range if my remembered score at IQ from childhood is anything to go by or means anything beyond I was once good at IQ tests. I don’t believe this makes me a better person or a more useful one. I have almost perfect recall and yet I am forever forgetting where I put things. Including lipsticks. I know (thank you J!) I am a good, even a great writer, but as yet this is not borne out by more than a few published items, the feedback from friends and the positive comments from agents and publishers. Believe me when I say that if you get a positive comment scribbled at the end of a rejection letter or even more so typed up as a custom written letter, take that comment and cherish it. They simply don’t have time to be kind; if they say it, they mean it and you so nearly made the grade at that point it would make you scream in frustration to know it. They just don’t bother if you didn’t strike them as worth it. As I said I know I am a good/great writer and I do wonder if this will mean more to me once something makes it to print and starts getting reviews. As an aside, Metro the free London newspaper commented on Dan Brown’s new novel as having a plot that was as intellectually taxing as an episode of Scooby Doo. I’d feel quite sorry for Mr Brown if he wasn’t earning so much money from it all!
Much of the time I feel quite empty, like a pair of eyes floating in an ocean and somehow simply observing the universe. I get quite hurt when people don’t seem to “get” me but that’s a tad silly when I don’t “get” me either. I ended up in floods of tears last years when a colleague at work had a go at me for being a know-it-all as she said. I was braced for more of the same a few weeks back when she asked me how I knew so much; I was unsure of whether she was working up to another attack. I simply responded that I read a lot (and very widely too) and remember about 99% of it.
I think I like writing novels and stories most because I can lose not just a sense of personal identity but also the need for it. Not only that the people in my stories are more real to me than the people around me; and they can’t hurt me either.
In the end, I don’t know who I am. I’m not sure that it really matters. Do you?