Aether Song

Our time is not in the grey falling rain nor in the boundless blue-green sea. Our time is in the river that lies between them, flowing smooth and quiet over the sand or angry and roiling over the unyielding stones. Joining and dividing. Choosing our own way for good or ill.

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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Who Am I?

It would be a wonderful thing (at least to some) if when we are born we were given a golden plaque upon which was inscribed our destiny and our place in existence. Then we would know who and what and where we were supposed to be. Whether you view this as fortunate or not, it does not happen. Instead we must feel our way blindly forward and make decisions based on partial and sometimes incorrect information.

What we are, where we are and where we came from all have clear straightforward answers but who we are is a different question entirely. Who is a question of identity and identity is to some extent a matter of choice and decision.
Some things you do not choose. You do not choose where you are born, nor who your biological parents or other relatives are. Most do not choose who raises them, nor which language they first speak. Most keep the names they were born with although this may be changed in later years.
When asked the question ‘Who are you?’ The answer received will likely either be an inherent personal characteristic or it will be in relation to something else.

The first instinct we have is to give our family names. What do these amount to? A collection of syllables and a few symbols, no more or less. They are a label, giving scant clue as to content, particularly for the non-famous. If, for instance, your first name is James or John, Mary or Patricia then millions of other people will share it and that name will essentially be meaningless as far as being a descriptor of you.
Your last name is only a minor improvement. It will reveal what family you belong to and this may be slightly more meaningful if you do choose to define yourself in relation to them.
You may also choose to define yourself in relation to particular relatives, such as parents “I am the daughter of Jane Edmonds.” Or children: “I am the mother of Ralph Edmonds”, “I am Ralph Edmonds’ Father.” Beyond unchosen family there lies the vast minefield of choice starting with chosen family i.e. marriage.: “I am the husband of Mary Edmonds.” “I am the wife of John Edmonds.”
Some people define themselves by Occupation/Societal Role: “I am a Lawyer.”, “I am an environmental activist.”
Some people define themselves by country/culture/political division of Origin or residence: “I am an American Citizen.”, “I am an Tarheel.”
Some people define themselves by their interests or hobbies: “I am a soccer fan/player.”
Some people unfortunately define themselves by their failings or flaws: “I am a sinner.” “I am an alcoholic.” “I am fat man.” “I am an ugly woman.”, “I am a thief.”
Some people (more than a few I would presume) define themselves by religion or worldview: “I am a Christian.”, “I am a Muslim.” , “I am a Jew.”

These are of course not mutually exclusive. I would imagine that circumstance dictates which of these we use at any particular time or in any particular situation, but I think each of us orders our particular choices in rank of importance.
The problem as I see it is that many of these chosen self-definitions draw lines. They say clearly that this is ‘US’, this is ‘THEM’ and ‘THEY’ are most certainly not part of ‘US’. And since ‘THEY’ are not part of ‘US’ we do not need to treat ‘THEM’ the same way because ‘THEY’ are either flawed in some way, or ‘THEY’ are somehow less than fully human and thus not deserving of the same treatment that we might accord those who do meet that requirement. So, what to do. Well for myself I thought I’d redefine who and what I am in a non-exclusive way. This definition to follow:

I am a Child of Mystery, for it was from mystery and into mystery that our universe was born.
I am a Child of Fire, for much of my substance was forged deep in the inconceivable heat at the core of an unnamed star whose light my eyes shall never know.
I am a Child of Darkness for it was into the black, frigid depths of the Void that my substance was cast when my stellar mother perished in an explosion of unimaginable violence.
I am a Child of Light for without the warming light of the Sun no life would have stirred upon the face of the Earth.
I am a Child of Earth for I partake of her substance and the essence of her stones lies within me. When I hunger it it the fruits of the earth which nourish me.
I am a Child of Water, for the line of my ancestors begins there, and I carry its legacy within me, in tears and sweat, in blood and bile, I am a vessel for them. I thirst and the waters quench me. Bereft of them I am little more than a handful of dust.
I am a Child of the Air for breath and life are one.
I am a Child of mothers beyond counting stretching back in an unbroken chain to the first fragile cell.
I am a voyager in time. I have journeyed through the eons in the heart of suns, in the spaces between stars and lastly through the tunnel of wombs to stand for a vanishing moment in the light, to stand and look back, to stand and look forward, to stand and to wonder. This is how I have come, but whither now shall I go?

4 Comments:

Blogger Questing Parson said...

Well said.
May the journey continue.

2:12 PM  
Blogger Songbird said...

Part of this was one of the first pieces of your writing you ever sent to me. I loved it then and still do.

2:15 PM  
Blogger Sue said...

This is wonderful - thanks for sharing it.

Welcome to the blog world Pure Luck!

7:40 PM  
Blogger Phantom Scribbler said...

This really is lovely. Thanks for allowing us all to see it.

8:01 PM  

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