Who We Are

Some people spend a lifetime trying to find out who they are.

At some point, after years  of play acting, after decades of reacting to millions of outside influences, the fact that one’s own personality is buried deeply beneath layers of judgment and protectionism finally dawns on us.

The instant at which we realize we are artificial, simply responses to external stimuli, is stunning in its fresh, cutting pain. It’s like an overwhelming sense of loss, but loss of what?  We don’t know. What did we lose?

We realize the core of who we are is concealed so deep that it would take another lifetime of digging through the detritus of experience to reach it. Who we are, without the play acting.  Who we are, absent the layers of reactions to outside influences.

But, then, in another moment of confusing clarity, we know it’s impossible for us to be who we are without our experiences.  It’s impossible for us to be who we are absent our responses to what happens to us.  Yet, somewhere in the mix, there is a personality unchained from trained responses, a person who is not tethered to a conscience built by a society intent on shaping everyone using the same pattern.

Ah, that’s it. That’s the core we’re looking for.  But we won’t know it even when we see it, will we? So the search is a fruitless endeavor that will go on, regardless of its futility.


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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