who are we?

I have been thinking a lot about this question of who we are.  Possibly precipitated by these these quotes which presented themselves to me over and over again this summer (reminding me, yet again, that there’s some inchoate logic behind what we think of when we think of it).

Tell me who you love and I will tell you who you are – Arsene Houssaye

Maybe that’s who you are, what you remember. – Orson Scott Card

Tell me what you pay attention to and I will tell you who you are – Jose Ortega y Gasset (from A First Sip, Instagram here)

Are we those we love, our memories, or our passions?  These all feel right to me. Perhaps we are all three.  Surely we are so much more, too.  I’ve been thinking about how I would personally answer these questions but also about the way that each of these quotes touches on external indicators of something truly internal.  Can we ever really know who we are?

Or are we always looking for hints, or clues, or the shimmer of that self, like a thread in a woven fabric or something glinting in the ocean?

I suspect it’s more the latter, and that’s why quotes that at who we are are so powerful.  Of course I am not certain.  What I do know is that some combination of what we love, what we remember, what we pay attention to feels like as good as any as a way to ascertain who we are.  That all resonates.

For now, that means that who I am lives somewhere in two tall teen and tween children, one gimp husband crutching around, sunsets, books, poetry, friends whose loyalty is deep and wide, the sky at all times of day.

That sounds about right to me.

Who are you?

 

 


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5 Comments

  1. Nadine
    Posted September 21, 2016 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    A lover of words and languages, an in-betweener, neither rooted here nor there. Always a mother, a daughter, part of a tight-knit extended family. And so much more. I agree that we’ll likely never know to the full extent, maybe because it changes? A question that grounds me on this first morning that feels like fall is coming.

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  2. Posted September 21, 2016 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Lindsey absolutely love this. I don’t think I can respond right off the top of my head. Who we think we are, who we would like to be, how others perceive us, how we grow and change and yet remain in some essential way the people we were as children. Such great food for thought. I am sharing this widely. Thank you!

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  3. Posted September 21, 2016 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    I love your thoughts on this Lindsey. Your words come at this question internally — who are we to ourselves, so important.

    I often think about it externally, Who are you to the world? I talk with my kids about this, in the sense that people cannot know your goodness from your mind, but from what you do and what you say. Speak kindly. Act kindly. What you do and what you say in that sense are who you are. And, I suppose, that those external measures shimmer back to our internal selves, and create who we are on the inside, too.

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  4. Marianna
    Posted September 23, 2016 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    Just yesterday I listened to the Krista Tippett podcast with Paul Coelho, and he’s firmly in the camp of we can never really pin down the answer to the question, “who am I?” He believes it’s an impossible task because we are constantly evolving and growing and changing.

    To that end, at this moment: A daily walker, posting picture after picture of glorious sunrises at Instagram, while wrestling with the best way to give. Mother to one who just started driving, attempting to come to grips with my loss of control. Mother to another, high school freshman, marching band member, who seemingly needs to be driven somewhere 400 times a day in a town that is one large road construction zone and the frustration that elicits.

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  5. Posted September 26, 2016 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    I’ve been thinking (and writing) about this so much lately, too. The changing seasons always brings it up for me: who are we, and who are we here & now?

    I think we have an always-and-forever self (you are made of love, you are enough, you are worthy) and we have the way that self is expressed right now today (as a parent, as a creator, as a woman in the world).

    The ocean is always the ocean, but how it looks today is not how it will look tomorrow, and that’s the beauty of it. It’s the same with us, I think.

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