This was a question I was asked yesterday and it immediately popped into my head the moment I opened my eyes this morning. Hmmmm….now let me think. I’m a father, husband, son, brother, uncle and cousin. I’m a manager, employee, friend and acquaintance. I’m a runner, writer, blogger and lover of honeycomb ice cream and German biscuits. But does that answer the question? Does that capture the essence of who….I….am?
When I was born, forty something years ago, I was none of these things. I have accumulated them as I’ve moved through life, becoming more and more laden down as I’ve struggled towards the summit of wherever I’m meant to be going. Other guises I’ve discarded along the wayside. I’m no longer a student, a drinker, an incredibly average rugby player, and so on. We acquire and shed these skins as we traverse life’s ever meandering paths.
We are chameleons, ever shifting creations, forever morphing into different versions of ourselves. We are moulded by external and internal factors, by circumstance and environment. I’m happy one minute, sad the next. I can be calm, courteous, controlled or cheeky, cutting and caustic. It all depends. On a billion factors, determining how we respond to any given situation. Who am I? I haven’t a clue.
We are layer upon layer of contradiction and juxtaposition. We chop and change at will. The Stephen of ten, five, two years ago bears absolutely no resemblance to the one writing this post today. I’d like to think I’m evolving into a better version of myself but who’s to say what the future holds. In five years time I might not like what I find, if I’m even here at all. And if I’m not ‘here’ then what’s left? Memories of what?
One person will say ‘what a great guy that Stephen was,’ while another might reflect ‘Well, I was never that keen on him and his stupid blog.’ I am a collection of anecdotes and experiences which have left mental imprints on those I’ve encountered on my journey to wherever I ended up. Here lies Stephen Black. Who was he? Well, don’t ask us for he didn’t even know himself. He used to write about it. Something about German biscuits, whatever they are.
If I don’t know who I am, then this begs a further question or two. Why am I here? And seeing as I’m here for the foreseeable future, what do I want to achieve before I move on to….wherever it is I move on to? It’s frightening when you begin to peel away the layers as to who you are and come up with a big fat nothing. For the clock is ticking. Days, become weeks, before months, become years and we are none the wiser as to answering these BIG questions.
Where are the answers? In the Bible, the Quran, sitting cross legged atop a picturesque Himalayan peak chanting sweet nothings into the air? We are searching, scrabbling, forever seeking the truth. The truth of who we are, what we want and where we need to be. One thing I am sure of is I won’t find out by sitting in my house waiting for the front doorbell to ring and the solution to be sitting on the doorstep in a pretty box bedecked with ribbons.
We need to chase, pursue and wrestle with the truth. The truth of us, our very essence. Only then will we begin to scratch beneath the surface and secure a tantalising glimpse of the real us. Inertia and indifference will only lead to frustration and disappointment. We need to succeed, fail, and everything in between. The comfort zone is crammed with like minded souls staring in the mirror and scratching their heads. The answer is out there. Seek and ye shall find. I think.
Who am I?
Who are you?