“Who am I?” The question seems a bit overused these days. It’s something more like a vogue, trendy kind of question that pulls us out of the doldrums of living among the masses and plants us in the more desirable currents of the intellectual mainstream. The question suggests that we’re exercising our intellectual acumen to probe our existence, which somehow proves that we have an intellect to exercise and an existence to live out.
Yet, at a much more fundamental level, we are all on a search for ourselves. That search itself blatantly evidences the fact that we are bigger than ourselves, for if we knew everything about us a search would be unnecessary. The baffling fact is that we live with ‘us’ every single solitary day of our existence. Yet, even though we live with ‘us’ with a transparent intimacy that no one else in all of existence ever will, we still don’t know ‘us.’ What we do know is that we are the sum total of what we know about ourselves, plus the infinitely larger part that we don’t know…at all. Hence the question, “Who am I?”
Seeking the Answer Verses Searching for Peace
The question then begs the search. Yet, the penetrating angst generated by the question sends us searching for ‘peace’, but not necessarily seeking the ‘answer’. To our own demise, the frenzied search to calm our souls sends us into the ‘plug-and-play’ of a culture ready to give us the once-over and then plug us into whatever the once-over has determined us to be. It becomes something of a search for the defining box that our careers hand us, or the identifying label that our social circles have crafted for us.
There’s a myriad army of people and philosophies and social structures ready to dress-us-up and deck-us-out in the borrowed garments woven of their biases and stitched tight by their sordid agendas. Should it have its way, the world would abscond with us, embezzling our resources in the service of its agendas. And while all of these might give us an identity, that identity is borrowed or imposed or both. Suffice it to say, an identity either borrowed or imposed is a costume parading itself around as something it is not. And therefore, the question goes unanswered.
Within Not Without
As patently simplistic as it sounds, we are defined by who we are. We need not reach out to everything around us in order to define that which is within us. If we reach out to something or someone outside of us in this search for self, whatever or whoever we reach out to needs to walk us back inside of us. It’s about being intelligently introspective in a manner that is intentional, thoughtful and relentless. It is about peeling away the sticky layers of culturally imposed norms, digging through the impregnable strata of our histories, and formulating the right questions hoping that we’re actually daring enough to ask them.
In this rigorous process, it’s not about evaluating what we see as held against some clandestine societal rubric or chafing personal bias. Rather, it’s more about accepting what we see and asking how it can be shaped, honed, cultivated and nurtured. It’s about believing that we were created with all the essential elements to become the essential person that we were intentionally and rather ingeniously designed to be. It’s about understanding that there is a specific role out there somewhere that’s waiting for us to show up. And the best way that we can show up for that role is to come as we are and not as the world says we should be.
This is not about giving ourselves permission to spin off on some ill-defined quest of self-indulgence, for our true selves won’t find themselves shaped for that kind of agenda. Rather, it’s respecting our authenticity as being something that adds to life rather than adds to self.
You are uniquely designed with everything you need to be everything that you are. And that’s sufficient to be able to do everything you were designed to do. And may the quest to discover all of this be relentless in it’s scope, potent in it’s process, and blessed throughout.