Who are you?
It’s a question that can have a really simple answer on the face of things. You’re Dave, or Sharon, or Pete. But that doesn’t actually give an answer – all it gives is a label chosen by your parents when you were nothing more than a pink face looking out from a bundle of blankets, being passed around to strange people called ‘relatives’…
But who IS Dave, or Pete, or Sharon? Come to think of it, who am I? What’s my identity?
What is it that makes me who I am, unique and different from every other one of the more than seven billion people currently alive, and different from every person who ever walked on the surface of the planet.
Is it to do with my physical being? I’m around six foot one, weigh around 14 stones plus change, with hair that used to be dark, and eyes that used to be 20-20. That’s hardly unique, so if this is part of the answer, there’s going to be something else as well.
Is it about my environment? I was born in West London 48 years ago and have slowly moved west by around 25 miles. My parents are happily married after fifty two years, my siblings (two brothers and a sister) are all living close enough to see each other regularly, and though age is catching up with us all, we are all relatively healthy and happy. I’ve been blissfully married for a quarter of a century, with two daughter who are both an absolute blessing and an bit of a pain by turn, being thoroughly normal, healthy kids. It’s a good place to be, but again – hardly unique.
Is it my heritage? I’ve spent some time on researching my family tree, and have several strands going back as far as the late 1600s, but after a while it just becomes a list of names. There are a few that I know a little more about, like my Grandad, whose character was formed in part by his wartime experiences, but much of the fabric of my family history is lost in time.
Is it what I do? My job is in IT, which might mark me as a geek. My hobby is drumming, which might mark me as a Rock God (not really… ) I love movies, sports, documentaries, history, and music, which positions me as a spectator. But there are lots of people who simply watch and enjoy.
Is it what I think? There are a lot of things I feel strongly about (politics, religion, inequality, football, beer) and a lot of things that I really don’t care about (rainbows, fracking, mountaineering, sky-diving, Pauly Shore movies). I know I’m not alone in most of this.
I don’t appear to be getting very far. But it’s clear that the answer to who I really am isn’t a simple one at all.
Maybe the thing that makes me unique, that makes me me, is that intangible essence that can’t be seen with the eye or heard with the ear. Maybe it’s the spark that separates life from death, in that for many people who see a relative or friend after their passing, the thought is that “it’s just their body, it’s not them.” Maybe there’s something to this that drives me to look deeper, beyond what I am called, what I look like, where I live, what I do.
This is where what I believe comes into play. I believe that there’s something inside of me that makes me who I am, that defines everything I am, everything I feel, and everything I represent. Call it my spirit, call it my soul, but its there. It must be, otherwise I’d just be a random coincidence of chemicals and involuntary actions and interactions, and that simply isn’t enough.
Same with you. It’s what makes you unique, priceless, and remarkable.
Worth remembering, next time you are approached at a party and someone says “Hello! Who are you?”