Who Am MCF?

In just a few short sentences, Rey pondered the very question of his existence and identity. It's the sort of topic I could delve into for thousands of characters, without ever reaching a conclusion.

I can't remember the first time I stopped, became aware of my thoughts inside my own head, and asked myself who I was. I know I was young, and that it made my head hurt. There's a kind of detachment that occurs in such moments, and I felt like I was outside my brain and floating away. It might be one reason why I cling to routine, to the familiar. I'm comfortable in the status quo, in the safety of knowing where I'm going to be and when, as well as what I'll be doing. Being adrift is terrifying.

Is our soul changed by our time on Earth? Did we exist in some form before birth, and are we changed and shaped by corporeal reality? When we die and leave our physical form behind, what do we take with us? What defines our personality?

Who am I? Am I that weird quiet guy that doesn't make eye contact? Am I a musician walking down the street with a bunch of old guys, wearing a dopey hat? Am I the guy that says and does stupid things around pretty girls, or the one who shrinks into a corner to avoid saying or doing something stupid? Can that be the same person who would take a girlfriend he trusted and was comfortable with, and literally sweep her off her feet and carry her to beaches and romantic clearings? Am I the person typing these words, the thoughts inside my head that no one sees, though not every thought? We all have different ways of acting and talking, facets of our personality that we show to different people, sometimes reflecting the personas of those around us. But in our brain, who is that person? There must be something inside determining who we are, as much as factors outside.

Adjectives flow freely in our society. Is the way others see us the way we truly are? Fat. Lazy. Guilty. Shy. Good. Bad. Slow. Fast. Smart. Moronic. Cheap. Wasteful. Creepy. Balding. Cute. Weak. Brave. Durable. Fragile. Nice. Short. Geeky. Mutant-like. Self-conscious. Selfish. Honest. Sometimes we think things about ourselves that aren't true. Sometimes others think things about us. Sometimes we believe in those perceptions, and they stick with us. My mom clutches the dashboard, white-knuckled, when I drive. My friends say I drive like the elderly. When I immediately defended myself about a car problem caused by natural wear and tear, my dad asked why I'm always ready to take the blame for things. When I promise things like helping my parents with a tag sale at my uncle's on the weekend, my mom reminds me seventeen times. Of course when I was younger that came from a lack of trust, and these days my parents may sincerely be forgetful.

I wonder occasionally if I am all that different now, if some traits are permanent while others I've grown out of. I don't think twice about answering the phone at work; I never cared for it at home. In elementary school, I dealt with physical confrontations by dropping to the floor like a bitch and whimpering, “don't hit me!”, which was perfect reverse psychology. God, I hated “two for flinching”. Faced with a serious physical conflict as an adult, would I react any differently? I'd be more restrained about it, but the flinch reflex would be stronger than an inclination to strike back. But the way we react in different situations, those are behavioral traits. It's part of who we are, but it's not our identity.

So who am I? Who is that voice in my head, sometimes sarcastic, often emotional? The silent reverie and narration of my life story projects from an unseen observer, a passenger in a shell of meat and bones. We get caught up in the physical reality, of getting work done, paying bills, putting one foot in front of another, avoiding obstacles and more. Taking a step back for self-awareness is daunting. I am how I act. I am how I look. I am how others see me. I am how I see myself. These are all reflections of a larger portrait because, at the end of the day, the answer, for any one of us, can be summed up in three simple yet complex words:

I am me.


Blogger Darrell said...

Good post. Made me think of the lyrics to this song, which I like a whole lot.

1/12/2007 11:06 AM  

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