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(Guayasamin´s “Hands of Protest”)

Who am I?

Like a trailer for my after-life movie, last night in a dream, I saw a summary of everything I’ve ever seen in this life. And as I watched those images swirl up and down and swim in and out of vision, a single question rose from the eye of my stormy life mission;

If “I” am watching me, then who am “I”?

“Who am I?”

The question echoed from my dream into my waking reality and rolled off the bed with my sleep and into my journal.

It’s not a new question.

I remember a spiritual guru at the Pyramids Retreat Center in Guatemala asking us (a group of students in a session) this question, “Who are you?”

I don’t have access to my journal-ed reply to that question. But the very fact that I can no longer recall my own words or even forge a new response to the question shows me just how much I’ve changed in the last three years.

Because if you asked me today, “Who are you?” I would answer;

“I am not young, but neither am I old. I am not female, but neither am I without femininity. I am not male, but neither I am without masculinity. I am not a daughter or sister, but I am not without kin. I am not a wife or girlfriend, but neither am I without life partnership. I am not an American, but neither am I of any other citizenship. I am not educated, but neither am I unlearned. I am not an expert in any one thing, but neither do I know nothing of all things. I am not a student or teacher, but neither is my interaction of learning without end. I am not wise, but neither am I naïve. I am not certain, but neither do I want to be. I am not logical, but I am not without rationale. I am not rich, but neither am I without all life luxuries. I am not strong, but I am not without courage. I am not sane, but I have not lost my senses. I am not real, but neither am I meaningless…”

I could go on forever.

But my point is this; I set out upon the world to find and define the answer to the question of “who am I.” I put my name on a blank piece of paper with a colon aside it and started scribbling in the answers, till a full definition resided. And then, at some point, am I’m still not sure when, where or why, I flipped my pencil over and started erasing all my definitions, having come to the conclusion that all were lies. Till I was left again with my name and a dot, dot, dot, and the acute realization not of who I am, but who I’m not. And today, on that written and erased, tattered, torn and loved page, not even my name remains.

Funny, now that I think about it, just how caught up we are in defining everything. Is this just the curse of humanity, to be plagued with the constant need to declare, categorize, name, organize, defend and define everything that is capable of our conception? Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we have to break fire down into a process of catalysts and chemical compounds? Or break a sunset down into the coincidental orbit of planets and stars. Why can’t we instead break OURSELVES down, in simple awe and wonder of our existence without explanation? While at the same time giving that undeclared, unnamed, uncategorized, undefended and undefined “explanation” of the Divine the respect, awe and wonder that it deserves?

I throw my hands up in the air in protest.

And them I drop them in exhaust.

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