Action vs. Soul

After getting quite the talking-to from my oldest sister last night, I decided to tackle another question. Several posts back I listed some that people felt were too hard to answer, and thought it might be easier to take them one at a time, answer them myself, and see if that primed the pump. Well, everyone’s right. These are hard.

So, can I say who I am, without saying what I do? I’m sure you’re all familiar with my point here. That every time you meet someone new, the first thing they want to know is what you do, as if that defines all that you are.

Okay, following the theme of the bawling out I got (that I am pondering, honestly), I will start by saying I’m probably closer to the thorn than the rose.

More rose than thorn

More rose than thorn

I’m someone more at peace around less.

I relate to trees more than to some relations.

It’s obviously tempting here to start listing things I like versus things I don’t. Things that make me happy, or sad, or mad. All of that is part of who I am, but they don’t take the question to a broader scene.

I am residual genetics filtered down through generations of Germans and Scots. I am descended from Montana pioneers. I could go on with history, but it makes me realize that I am trying to say who I am by saying where I came from, and that isn’t right either.

Cherry Creek with generations of family

Cherry Creek with generations of family

The labels I’ve talked about before start to surface: mom, writer, sister, wife, daughter…but those don’t say who I am. They only say what I am to others, and almost slide into defining self by what I do.

The easy way out right now is to simply write that I am the sum of all these things. That kind of feels like cheating. It also feels like a cliché and all writers hate clichés. Or should.

So whom am I? Someone who is loved. Someone who loves. Someone who also dislikes, and gets pissed, and cusses too much.

Oops. Slipping into defining by listing.

I am part of the earth, I gain balance from the places that feel like bone-deep parts of me: mountains, rivers, forests. I want to return to that earth some day, no coffin, no barriers, just part of the whole.

Dramatic sunset backdrop for dramatic words.

Dramatic sunset backdrop for dramatic words.

That sounds wonderful, but is rather dramatic. And there’s that pragmatic side of me that’s laughing at the dramatic side.

So who am I? I really have no idea. Someone who tried sandpaper to get rid of freckles so long ago that the majority of the people who remember that are gone. Someone who just realized those freckles have faded like those people.

Who are you? How do you define yourself? Please show me you would answer this.

‘Inside us there is something that has no name, that something is who we are.’ – Jose Saramago

 

Silverback Fir Cones

Silverback Fir Cones

9 thoughts on “Action vs. Soul

  1. Ooh, something to think about. I like the Saramago quote. I do very much feel like the answer to “who are you?” is some unnameable entity; or, if it must be named, simply “myself.” I am me, and “me” is not easily explainable. I mean, even “what is a table?” is hardly answerable without referring to its function (that is, what it does). In Madeleine L’Engle’s A Ring of Endless Light there’s a scene where the protagonist telepathically communicates with a dolphin, and it’s entirely in evocative images. I feel like the only way to truly explain who I am, without mentioning what I do, would be some kind of surrealist series of colors and movements, and even that wouldn’t exactly communicate who I am so much as a kind of energy and spirit.

    • I like the idea of conveying who we are through images. Mine would have to involve mountains. Lush rainforest undergrowth of ferns and salal and kinnikinnick. And your description of color and movement does describe you to me.

  2. I actually thought the same thing. If you take all the things away that you said we are not allowed to use my answer would also have been “I am me”. On the other side I think we would usually describe ourselves with what is most important to us, like mountains to you, water for me…
    If I would have to describe myself with 5 words I would choose: German, traveler, water, blue (color), teacher…
    I think that is a pretty good description of who I am.
    🙂

  3. Hmm… interesting question, with either a very complex answer or no answer at all. It might be easier to answer the question of who I am by stating who I am NOT. And, I think, we may get a clearer picture of “us” when we are pushed up against those boundaries where crossing will cause us intolerable emotional pain.Until that point, we have the freedom to change, develop and grow — therefore expanding our uniqueness.

    • Interestingly enough, your comment mirrors my sister as far as pushing me against boundaries and the freedom to change. However, the result you mention, expanding our uniqueness, is not something I’d considered.

      • I think we always have the option to grow and change (and in fact I don’t believe we can help it), and that’s one reason why it’s so difficult to define who we are. It makes for an interesting philosophical discussion. I think that sticking a description on oneself isn’t ultimately useful — particularly if doing so denies oneself a chance to become more.

  4. Who am I? Interesting question! Very much a chicken or the egg kind of unanswerable question.
    We can define, describe,and label ourselves, but my take on the question is seeking something more that is less. Thus I am left with two one word answers. 1) ME!!!! and 2)LOVE. synonyms for number two are: ALL, Light, ONE, and my first thought when I read Lisa’s question: GOD! as we all are. Divinity swarming all around and within.
    I was not bawling you out. Just expressing my passion for sharing the beauty of us all. Thank you for the question. I had been pondering: will I still be me without my womb? Yes, I will, love Jani

    • Yes, you will be who you are, completely, without your womb. And I used the phrase ‘bawling out’ in a self-deprecating voice, knowing your words came from love and I needed to hear them. And you’re right; this is an unanswerable question. I love the attempt to answer, though!

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